A recent survey finds a crazy number of bridesmaids and groomsmen overspend to celebrate a friend’s nuptials.

By Maggie Seaver
Updated July 31, 2019

Being a bridesmaid (or groomsman) is an honor, but it’s a lot of pressure too, pressure to show up and pressure to spend—a lot. Anyone who’s been in a friend’s wedding knows bridesmaid expenses pile up, no matter how much fun you’re having or how much you love the bride. It’s kind of an unspoken protocol for bridesmaids and groomsmen to accept their fate and shell out money for everything from gifts to attire as a member of their friends’ squad. And things get even pricier for wedding party members (and guests) when it comes to destination wedding events.

So where does that leave bridesmaids on a budget? According to a recent survey by CompareCards by Lending Tree, bridal party duties leave one-third of bridesmaids in debt.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen debt mentioned in tandem with attending a wedding. Survey data from Credit Karma revealed 20 percent of Americans incur debt simply from going to a loved one’s wedding as a guest. But as expensive as being a guest can be, guest costs still exclude the extra financial expectations placed on the wedding party: showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, one or more gifts, multiple outfits, new accessories, hair and makeup, accommodations, and travel. Bridesmaids and groomsmen can spend anywhere from $500 to $1,500 total, depending on where they’re celebrating and what they’re expected to do.

To get granular, CompareCards’ survey found 35 percent of bridesmaids and 30 percent of groomsmen went into debt to be in a loved one’s wedding party. Honor attendants were hit with an even more staggering financial burden, with a 43 percent of maids of honor and 38 of best men incurring debt to be their friend's right hand. And what's costing so much? Nearly one third of respondents said the biggest expense was wedding party attire, nearly another third cited bachelor or bachelorette party expenses, and around a quarter said paying for travel to and from the wedding.

In general, 58 percent of bridesmaids and 61 percent of maids of honor felt pressured to drop cash for bridal-party-related costs. The overwhelming sense of obligation to spend often seems to trickle down from bride herself—and nearly a third of bridesmaids and almost half of maids of honor said the financial pressure put a strain on their relationship with the bride. Of those bridesmaids who felt pressure to spend, 48 percent said it came from the bride, 35 percent felt it from the other bridal party members, and 32 percent confessed they put financial pressure on themselves to deliver as a great bridesmaid.

These findings are eye-opening, yes, but it actually is very possible to keep your finances in check while sending your BFF off into married life in style. Sometimes it just takes a few money-saving tips (like, it's okay to say "no" to a prewedding event) to show you where to cut costs along the way: Here’s how to attend a wedding without going broke. And for to-be-weds hoping to spare their wedding party’s bank accounts, read up on how to treat your bridesmaids right.