You’re Going to Be a Bridesmaid? 8 Ways to Keep From Going Broke

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You don't have to break the bank to be a part of someone's special day. Here's how to cut costs.

I’ll never forget the first time I was asked to be a bridesmaid.

My close friend, who’s more like a sister, called me in the wee hours of the morning to share the good news and immediately followed it up with the big question: “Will you be my matron of honor?” Without having a clue about what it entailed, I quickly said yes.

Boy, was I in for a surprise. I’d taken the frugal route to tie the knot, but she had other plans, which would ultimately cost me close to $1,000. Even so, I actually did fairly well, considering it’s quite common to spend $1,500, says U.S. News & World Report.

While I had the time of my life and don’t regret my decision to be a part of her big day, there are a ton things I would’ve done differently to soften the blow on my wallet.

A closer look at bridesmaid costs

Dress. This one is unavoidable, but what may surprise you is the price point. Expect to spend at least $100, but this number could be much steeper if the bride has expensive tastes.

Alterations. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of alterations. Because I’m 6 feet tall, I’ve always had to fork over an extra $25 to $30 to lengthen the dress.

Accessories. These pieces may or may not be offered by the bride. And if she is particular about the brand, don’t be surprised if your accessories cost $50 or more.

Shoes. Some brides allow their bridesmaids to wear shoes they already own, while others expect you to conform to their standards, regardless of price. I’ve spent between $60 and $100 for shoes that end up in the closet collecting dust, never to be worn again.

Pre-wedding festivities. Think you’ll just show up at the shower, grab a seat and indulge in the food and drinks? Think again. Unless stated otherwise, it’s highly likely you’ll be asked to pitch in to help cover the food, drinks, favors and venue costs. Just to give you an idea, the first bridal shower I hosted cost me $300, not including the gift. And the bachelorette party cost me about $150, only because the venue was offered free of charge.

Travel. Even if you live hundreds or thousands of miles away, your presence may be requested at each of the pre-wedding functions. Hopefully, they are within a few days of each other so multiple flights or extended road trips won’t be necessary. Fortunately, I’ve been able to dodge long-distance weddings, but I’ve heard others complain about spending $600 or more on airfare and accommodations for a single weekend.

Hair and makeup. Unless the bride is generous and covers the costs associated with what I like to call on-site beautification, expect to spend up to $100 on hair and makeup.

Gifts galore. Being a member of the bridal party doesn’t exclude you from showering the couple with gifts. In most instances, contributions from the registry are expected at the engagement party, bridal shower and wedding. Whew, that’s a load of cash.

Fortunately, there are cost-cutting strategies. Let’s go over some of them.

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