Always a Bridesmaid: How to Survive a Wedding Party Without Going Broke

by Ashley Eneriz · 0 comments

Being asked to be in someone’s wedding is supposed to be a special honor — but by the time the wedding rolls around, it can feel like the bride has asked you to give her a direct line to your checking account. Though bridesmaids definitely have more cost requirements, being a groomsman can be pricey too.

Here’s how to honor your wedding duties on a tight budget:

How to Save Money as a Bridesmaid

Decline If You Need To

There’s nothing wrong with turning down the honor of being in a wedding party. Obviously, this works better with friendships that have drifted over the years, or people who feel obligated to have you (aka my mother is making me).

Simply say: “I’m so honored you want me to be part of your special day, but I have to decline because it’s a busy time in my life right now. You deserve a bridesmaid who can devote more attention and time to help you.”

I’m not going to sugar coat this: Feelings might get hurt if you take this route. You may even get uninvited to the wedding entirely. However, if that happens, you’ll save even more money. For those who can’t use this option (or are way too chicken), keep reading for three more practical money-saving tips.

Don’t Volunteer to Do It All

One of my close friends was asked to be one of thirteen bridesmaids. She agreed, even though she wasn’t super close with the bride. Despite the bride having family members, a maid of honor, and many other bridesmaids, she relied on my friend to do a lot of work. My friend is a nice person who won’t say no — so by the time the wedding was over, she felt used and broke.

Don’t be so quick to volunteer your time, money, or energy if you don’t have any to spare. Obviously, if you’re best friends with or related to the bride or groom, you’re going to have to step up your game. Otherwise, let others volunteer before you do.

Get a Grip on the Gifts

If you’re a guy, you can get away with only giving one gift. Lucky you! For us bridesmaids, you’ll be invited to a shower (possibly two or three), a bachelorette party, and the actual wedding. Gifts are given at each one — but that doesn’t mean you have to give three gifts.

I was a pretty blunt bride who told my bridesmaids and close friends: “I’m inviting you to all three events, but please don’t give me a gift for all of them. I just want to enjoy your company.”

If your bride isn’t down with that, you can either give a meaningful DIY gift or buy something with another friend or bridesmaid. For one wedding, I used Target coupons to buy all of the towels on their registry, then split the cost with a friend. I rolled the towels to look like a wedding cake and ended up giving an impressive gift for only $20.

Another tip: Be the first one to the registry. This way, you have a better pick of the items and can look for coupons to cut your costs.

Ebay Your Bridesmaid Dress

If the bride goes with a well-known dress designer and design for the wedding, you might get lucky and find it at a deep discount. It’s best to look on Ebay and Craigslist before saying yes at the bridal boutique. Don’t be afraid to look for your dress in much larger sizes, since it’ll be cheaper to alter a used dress than to buy a new one.

If the bridal boutique is your only choice, then don’t get it altered there. Some boutiques will make you buy a larger size so there are more alterations to be done. This actually happened to me last summer: When the dress arrived, it was falling off of me! I could see the dollar signs blinking in the shop owner’s eyes as she asked when I wanted to schedule alterations. Thankfully, I hired a friend at only $10-15 an hour. The alterations cost $30 altogether – a huge savings!

Weddings are supposed to be a joyous occasion. Find a way to be frugal, without being stingy. In the end, this is the bride and groom’s special day — so don’t let your budget cause drama.

How many weddings have you been in? How have you saved money at them?

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