Prevent their big day from becoming your financial ruin by keeping a few frugal tricks up your taffeta sleeve.
I’ll never forget the time my friend told me she couldn’t afford to go out for the next few weekends. She was cutting corners, she said, because she had several weddings coming up, and she was going to be a bridesmaid in all of them. The cost of having so many besties was enough to put her in the red at age 27.
The average bridesmaid in the U.S. spends $1,324 on each wedding, with dress, accessories, hair, makeup, gifts, and bachelorette parties topping the expenses. If you live on the east coast, that price tag is closer to $1500 — that’s enough to rent a one-bedroom in Miami for a month, buy a Macbook Pro, or book a VIP package for Beyonce and Jay-Z's On the Run II tour (because, you know, priorities).
The good news? Everyone knows weddings break the bank for all parties involved, so no one should object if you use a few clever strategies for cutting corners instead of maxing out credit cards.
Divide the Expenses
There’s one thing you and your bridesmaid girl squad definitely have in common: you’re all about to shell out major cash. What if you join forces to soften the blow? Instead of buying individual gifts, for instance, marry your funds together — and contribute less per person — on one big-ticket item. For destination weddings and bachelorette parties, collaborate on a car rental and book a suite that sleeps four or more — or find something cheaper from services like AirBnb and Homeaway.
Buy a Pre-Owned Bridesmaid Dress
In a perfect world, every bride would allow her ladies to choose frocks that flatter their figures and their budgets. But in reality, you’re probably at the bride’s mercy. A $500 tangerine ball gown it is! And that’s not counting alterations. Slash that price in half by hunting down the gown on sites like eBay, Tradesy, Poshmark, which sell heavily discounted, used (read: worn once) dresses from designers and popular retailers like J. Crew and David’s Bridal. When the party’s over, try reselling the dress and making some of your money back.
Rent Your Dress
Even if you do get your dress at a discount, it will inevitably hog up half the space in your closet until you a.) motivate to donate it, or b.) reach a point where you don’t even see it anymore. Luckily, bridesmaid dress rental services are cropping up to solve that problem — a loaner is usually about a third the price of the new dress. Search Rent the Runway’s bridesmaid category or try Vow to Be Chic, a bridesmaid-specific service that even offers free at-home fittings.
Choose a Blowout Over an Updo
Is a French twist really necessary for your look? If the bride isn’t paying for a hairstylist, this could cost you several hundred bucks. Spring for a $40 session at your local blow dry bar instead, or hire an on-demand beauty service like Glamsquad to do it for about $50. Or just DIY it!
Take Advantage of Online Savings
Vow not to pay retail for your bridesmaid expenses — there’s an online coupon for just about anything. RetailMeNot is a prime resource for coupon codes that can be used on things like accessories and registry items from most major retailers. And sites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer plenty of steep discounts on beauty services, rental vehicles, and bachelorette-party activities. Fifty percent off pole dancing classes? Your mother would be proud.