As big an honour as it is to be asked to be a bridesmaid for your close friend or sibling, some people balk at the thought of how expensive such a role can be. Taking into account the hen party, the dress, any gifts, etc, it can end up costing you quite a bit of money. So from gift lists to dress shopping, here are 7 of our cost saving tips for bridesmaids to help you save some cash.
1) Budget and Research
First things first: research what being a bridesmaid involves and set yourself a budget. Work with the bride or her maid of honour to try and do a breakdown of everything you’ll need to pay for during the wedding, including gifts, the hen night, any transport, any clothing, etc. See what you can realistically afford to pay for each thing/event and then work with that. Be up front about how much you can spend.
Members of the bridal party tend to put too much pressure on themselves to give the couple an equally brilliant and meaningful gift even if it’s out of their price range. Try not to assume that the couple expect a big, flashy, expensive gift. After all, if they expect a gift at all they’ll most likely value a cheaper, heartfelt gift over the biggest new accessory you can find. With that in mind, one great way to reduce the amount of money you spend on a gift is to break out your DIY skills; rather than buy something brand new, update and accessorise something smaller. For example, present a cheaper but no less pretty necklace in a miniature jewellery box or create something like a hamper out a handful of smaller gifts.
Furthermore, the couple may have decided to use a gift list/ gift registry to list all the stuff they need or would like so that, if guests want to buy them something, it can be something they need and not a third toaster. Use that gift list as inspiration—get in there quick to buy something from the list that’s in your price range. Or, alternatively, an even better idea is to liaise with the other bridesmaids so that you can all pitch in together to buy a larger gift that would otherwise be too expensive for you to buy on your own.
3) Share Travel Costs
Whether it’s to get to the bridal boutique, travelling for the hen party, or jetting off for a destination wedding, one of the most cost-effective travel methods is to all go together. It might take more time and effort to coordinate group travel, especially if it will be a large group, but many airlines offer group discounts. So in the long run it’ll definitely be worth it! (Note: If you’re going to be flying somewhere or catching a bus or train as part of the wedding, book your flights/transport as far in advance as possible—prices may be higher due to last-minute booking fees if you leave it too late.)
Furthermore, a road trip on the way to your hen do or while on a wedding-planning-shopping-trip-spree is not only fun but a brilliant way to bond. Plus, sharing a ride (perhaps in a hired vintage van?) that fits you and all of your bridesmaids saves you petrol money and, once again, you can all pitch in together to pay for it.
4) Share a Hotel Suite
Hotels can be expensive for just one night, let alone a few in a row—especially if you’re going to a popular place or if you’re going abroad and have to pay for everything else as well (like travel and food). So it’s a good idea, and often more convenient, to try and get a room or suite that you can share with your bridesmaids. That way you can split the cost between everyone and perhaps opt for something truly special…like Sandals’ over-the-water bungalows at Sandals South Coast, Jamaica!
Above: Over-the-water bungalows at Sandals South Coast, Jamaica
5) Group DIY Projects
DIY projects can be so much fun! Gather all of the bridesmaids together for a creative group session where you can save both time and money by making everything from DIY favours to stationery, decor, and gifts for both the wedding and the hen party. Check out our DIY articles for some brilliant DIY projects, including glitter vases, ombre favour bags, and succulent mason jars.
6) Hair and Makeup
Professional wedding hair and makeup can be pretty expensive. If the bride is having trouble finding a price she can afford, or you’ve been left to pay for your own, perhaps you could open yourself up to the possibility of doing it yourself (especially if you’re a dab hand at it)? There are thousands upon thousands of videos on sites like YouTube that give hours of tutorials. You and the bride could agree on look and style and you can get practising? Bear in mind however that professional hair and makeup artists know what to take into account for all manner of weather, lighting, camera flashes, etc, and sometimes offer touch-ups at points throughout the day to keep you camera-ready. Make sure you know what to consider if you do end up doing your own.
7) Dresses and Fashion
Some bridesmaids look forward to their bridesmaid dress as one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process. Others however may be a tad more cynical about the fact that this will be a dress they’ll probably only wear once. Depending on the bride, you may have to pay for your bridesmaid dress (and shoes, jewellery, etc) yourself, which usually means choosing a dress in the right colour and/or style that the bride has specified. On the other hand, the bride will pay for your dress for you, and hopefully she will consult you on what styles you’re more comfortable in.
In both cases you can cut costs:
- Buy a used bridesmaid dress. Simply browse the internet for used dresses websites where you can bag a bargain. Since a lot of bridesmaids dresses have only been worn once, these dresses will probably still be in tip-top condition.
- Buy bridesmaid dresses from the same shop or designer in bulk to reduce postage and packaging costs.
- Don’t buy a dress at all! Just rent one from a shop or borrow one from a friend if it’s suitable.
On the other hand, one growing favourite dress option is the “multiway” convertible two-in-one or many-in-one dress. Whether it’s a simple detachable skirt that makes a longer, traditional dress into a pretty cocktail dress or a dress with straps that can be worn in over a dozen different ways, convertible dresses are a brilliant design that not only accommodate all manner of tastes and styles but also mean the dress can be worn over and over again for other events. You’re buying many dresses for the price of one! (Similarly, if you prefer not to reuse the same shoes you wore for the wedding, you can buy shoes that can be dyed.)
Also, a cost you may not have thought of is dress alterations, which some people think is only for the bride’s wedding dress. Some bridesmaids opt to skip dress alterations to save some money. To be in the best position to do this while avoiding your dress being too loose around your waist on the wedding day, it’s best if (before or while you’re dress shopping) you get yourself properly measured to ensure you’re buying the correct dress size. And if you do go ahead with dress alterations, you may find that a local tailor or seamstress will be a lot cheaper than the dress shop.
Finally, if after the wedding you find you can’t (or don’t want to) wear your bridesmaid dress again and it’s getting pushed further and further back in your wardrobe, you could always sell it to get a bit of money back on it. Or donate it to a charity!
So, taking on the mantle of bridesmaid can involve quite a bit of your time and money. Be careful not to volunteer for more things than you can handle—this can be the fast lane to shelling out more money that you might not be able to afford. Or worse, you could start to resent your role. Make sure that before you say “yes” you know what you’re getting into!