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I’ve never been too thrilled about being a bridesmaid. Why? Being in a bridal party isn’t cheap.
You have to buy at least one gift (but probably two or more), pay for your bridesmaid dress and cover the cost of the bachelorette party. If you’re not careful, all of this can easily cost $500 or more. But there are ways to be part of your friend’s special day without emptying your bank account.
Let’s focus on the bachelorette party. While you could spend a night on the town, bar-hopping from one expensive martini to the next, you could also throw a more unique (and much cheaper) bachelorette party that’s not in a bar. Here are a few ideas:
1. Throwback slumber party
Re-create those junior high weekends with a slumber party for all the girls. Plan a few activities you loved as a kid (or never had a chance to enjoy) to keep everyone entertained. For instance:
- Seance. Pick up a Ouija board from the toy section of any major retailer and ask the ghosts what they think of the wedding-to-be.
- Truth or Dare. Remember this? Go around the room and ask everyone “Truth” or “Dare.”
- Facials. Buy some at-home facial masks or make your own with these recipes from Marie Claire.
- Cheap wine tasting. Grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell wines for less than $5. Grab $20 worth.
2. Dinner party
If a large group is invited to the bachelorette party, paying for everyone’s dinner could be hugely expensive. Instead, throw a dinner party at home. Our Frugal Family Feast series provides some affordable recipes appropriate for dinner parties:
- Frugal Family Feast: Salmon With Creamy Dill Sauce and Fettuccini
- Frugal Family Feast: Risotto
- Frugal Family Feast: Spinach and Leek Quiche
- Frugal Family Feast: Ratatouille
- Frugal Family Feast: Oven-Baked Herb-Crusted Salmon
3. Pool party
Do you have a pool or know someone who does? Put out some lounge chairs and a few festive decorations like tiki torches and paper lanterns to spruce the place up. Cut your own fruits and veggies or make finger sandwiches to keep everyone fed. As for drinks, pick up cheaper bottles of liquor and mixers at warehouse clubs or check out SaveOnBrew to find local beer specials.
4. Skating party
Another throwback idea: Have a party at your local skating rink. Most skating rinks offer package deals that include food, nonalcoholic drinks and skate rentals. They’ll also organize games, let you pick songs to skate to and give a shout-out to the bride.
5. Game night
A game night is a great way to have fun on the cheap and is a good idea for a large group of people who don’t know each other well — everyone has something to do without all the awkward silence. Borrow board games from friends and family to keep costs down, or check garage sales.
If you already have the gear or if you can borrow it, camping is a really cheap way to have a weekend getaway with the bride-to-be. To find the perfect spot, check StateParks.com and other sources. Make sure to call ahead about permit requirements, fees and any unlisted closures.
7. Scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are easy to set up yourself. Find hidden spots around town like old signs, funny billboards, historical monuments or anything else you think would be fun to find. Print up a scavenger hunt list, divide the guests into teams and have everyone take pictures of what they find on their cellphones. The team who finds the most within a set time limit wins.