Being a bridesmaid is an honor usually reserved for close relatives and friends of the bride-to-be. Glamorous gowns, stylists and destination weddings have become nearly the norm in recent years, but bridesmaids and brides should be aware of all the expected expenses - clothes, shoes, accessories, travel, gifts and parties - before saying yes to the bridesmaid's dress. Here are some tips to keep budgets intact and still share the special day.
First, Dee Higgs of Dee's Country Bridal Shop in Bridgeport suggests that the bride and her mother, sister or best friend go window shopping alone. They can look at colors, styles and prices of dresses, shoes, accessories and jewelry and also get quotes on extras like hair styling, make-up applications and manicures. If it's a destination wedding, take into account airfare and lodging.
Putting together a package of expected expenses will allow the bride to make adjustments such as finding a less expensive dress or having the girls choose their own shoes or do their own nails and hair. Looking at the whole package, the bride can prioritize what she wants and elect to pay the dress deposits, buy all the same shoes online or give jewelry or manicures as gifts to the wedding party.
T-L Photo/GLYNIS VALENTI
Weddings are expensive, and if bridesmaids can get more than one use from their gowns, all the better. More brides are opting for short dresses in fashionable colors. One mermaid-style dress has a zip-off ruffle that turns the gown into a cocktail dress for dancing or parties.
Friends will appreciate an advance look at what they'll need to cover. Everyone also needs to keep in mind that bridesmaids pay for the bachelorette party and often a wedding shower, plus shower and wedding gifts. Costs could total $1,000 or more before travel expenses, if any of the events are out of town.
A form of one-stop shopping not only keeps things simple for the bride, but can ease tight budgets, too. Ordering the dresses and men's tuxes from the same place ensures that the order stays together, and smaller businesses are more willing to offer group discounts, according to Higgs.
Regarding dresses, that early window shopping could help the bride choose a range of complementary styles and prices in bridesmaid's dresses and let each girl choose what fits her budget and body style in a designated color.
A dress that can be worn again is always appreciated. Higgs carries a mermaid cut strapless gown on which the bottom ruffle unzips just above the knee, turning it into a wearable cocktail dress. Many basic black dresses are also versatile.
One person could also purchase all of the shoes online at once, saving the shipping costs of individual orders and making sure everyone's shoes arrive on time in one package.
Another "double-duty" idea is to have a spa bachelorette party the day before the wedding. Everyone relaxes while getting manicures, pedicures and facials, saving on those pre-wedding expenses. Other suggestions include making appointments at a beauty school for hair and make-up or hiring a new stylist or beauty school student to help with hair and make-up on the wedding day.
Brides should keep in mind that planning ahead might mean the difference between someone being in the wedding and having to turn you down. If costs are spread out over a longer period, many people find it easier to pay, or by setting a date early on, people can save for expenses, especially if they need to travel. Bridesmaids can keep an eye on their budgets by entering receipts into their computers or phone apps.
If being in the wedding is simply out of the question financially, have a talk with the bride before accepting the responsibility. The two of you may be able to work something out, but if it's too uncomfortable to take on the expenses, opt out graciously and see if there is some other way that you can participate or be of help. A little communication and compromise on both sides might ease the stress and keep a friendship intact.