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How To Budget as a Bridesmaid

By Rebecca Padgett

Being a part of the bridal party is an incredible honor. You have been such an integral part of your friend’s life, sharing some of the most special moments together. With a wedding, you will be experiencing one of life’s most monumental moments together. Yet with all the excitement, the price of being a bridesmaid can be daunting.

With travel expenses, clothing, accessories, gifts and all of the little details in between, the price can quickly add up and seem overwhelming. Fortunately, with some consideration and planning, you can enjoy the experience of being a bridesmaid with less money stress.

Photo by Black and Hue Photography

Plan Ahead 

If you have been your bestie’s bestie since preschool, it’s highly likely that you will be a bridesmaid. You may even have an idea of when she might get engaged. With these indicators, you can start mentally and financially preparing yourself for the wedding. The moment your friend calls you to show off her new ring, you’ll at least have a plan in place.

Create a Budget

Create a spreadsheet that helps you track how much each item is. Put the big budget items first, such as the bridesmaid dress and travel. You can also keep track via budgeting apps. During this time, rearrange your personal budget and cut costs on items where you can. You can categorize your budget by essentials and extras. The essentials are dress, travel and a gift for the couple. These essentials are usually some of the most expensive. Try to pay for these big price point items early so you can determine how much you have left to spend on extras — such matching T-shirts or getting a manicure.

Buy Early 

The sooner you know where the wedding and the bachelorette party are, the sooner you can make travel plans and the cheaper it will be. Get to the registry as soon as the couple shares it. You can see the range of gifts and decide what you want to purchase. If you wait until a few days before the wedding, only the very expensive china or one dish towel could be left.  You can even go in on paying for gifts with a few bridesmaids. This way you are splitting prices. Split prices where you can.

Photo by Black and Hue Photography

Buy Used/Rent and Use Discounts

Get creative on how you can save. When the bride tells you what dress to wear, see if you can find it cheaper on Poshmark or other used clothing websites. You can also look into renting a dress. Instead of buying new clothing for all of the events — bridal shower, bachelorette and wedding weekend — consider renting or buying second-hand. Set travel alerts for flights and hotels to the wedding and bachelorette locations. Look for coupons at the stores that are on the couple’s registry. 


Hair and makeup for the wedding can cost anywhere from $40–$100. If you and the bride are comfortable with it, you can do your own hair and/or makeup. If you are a maid of honor planning the showers and bachelorette party and are crafty, you can volunteer to craft some of the décor. If you like to cook, the same applies. There are also many ways to craft meaningful gifts for the couple’s gift.

Be Honest 

This is your friend, she loves you and will understand. It is much better to be honest upfront than it coming up too late. See if there are areas where she can help you plan ahead or cut corners. If you truly can’t afford something, brainstorm alternatives. If you can’t afford the bachelorette, instead offer to take her out somewhere local for dinner and drinks. If money is something the entire group is cognizant of, come up with a plan on spending limits that all are comfortable with.

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