Budget wedding tips typically focus on how the bride and groom can save money on the big day, but what about everyone else in the wedding party?  With the cost of dresses, gifts, bridal showers, and bachelorette parties, being a bridesmaid can become an expensive gig.  Your bridesmaids may be on a tight budget too.  Your wedding day is not the most important day of their lives, so expecting them to fork over a fortune is unrealistic.  Here are some tips for keeping your bridesmaids’ expenses reasonable.

Give them multiple options for bridesmaid dresses.          

Instead of making them all wear the same dress, give them at least a few different choices – and make sure some of those choices aren’t too expensive.  Some brides will choose a color and/or a designer, and let the bridesmaids choose whatever they want within those constraints.  If your bridesmaids have drastically different styles from each other, you may want to limit their options.  I gave my bridesmaids 10 different options (with varying prices) that were all somewhat similar to each other.

Be flexible about shoes, jewelry, hair, and makeup.

Instead of selecting one pair of expensive shoes for the bridesmaids to wear, give them some flexibility.  If you’re worried that one of the bridesmaids may show up in crocs or flip flops, you may need to set some basic rules.  For example, tell bridesmaids they can wear any black high heels or ballet flats they have.

updoI had a frugal wedding, but one area I did splurge on was my hair and makeup.  I never would’ve expected my bridesmaids to have their hair or makeup done at the expensive salon I went to.  After all, it’s not their wedding day!

A complicated up do could also be expensive, so it’s best to only provide basic directions like “up dos only” or “hair down”.  Personally, I didn’t have a preference, so I let my bridesmaids do whatever they wanted with their hair.  This allowed them to easily do their hair themselves, so they didn’t have to pay to have it done at a salon.

Buy practical bridesmaid gifts.                                         

There are so many cute bridesmaid gift ideas on Pinterest – everything from personalized t-shirts to “survival kits” for the day of the wedding.  While these ideas are fun, a shirt that the girls will only wear once or a kit that they may not even use at all is impractical.  What could you buy them that you know they will use and enjoy?  Someone who is on a tight budget may not treat themselves to meals out very often. For this reason, I decided to get my bridesmaids gifts cards to their favorite restaurants.

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Don’t go over the top with your bachelorette party and bridal shower.

Instead of traveling to Vegas, why not spend the weekend at a friend’s cabin and spare your bridesmaids the cost of hotel rooms and airfare?  Planning a spa getaway weekend?  Try creating your own “spa” at home.  Board game nights, movie nights, craft days, and photo shoots are cheaper alternatives to bar hopping and strip clubs.

If you’re set on travelling or doing some kind of expensive activity, let your bridesmaids know that you’ll understand if they can’t make it.  Most weddings include several different pre-wedding events.  If they can’t afford to come to the bachelorette party, for example, they can still attend the engagement party, bridal shower, and rehearsal dinner.

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Most importantly: Communicate.

Communicate clearly with your bridesmaids.  Let them know that you realize that being a bridesmaid can get expensive, and that you will do what you can to keep things affordable for them.  Be understanding if a bridesmaid tells you she just can’t afford something.

*Featured image courtesy of Studio Delphianblue.

What suggestions do you have for keeping bridesmaids’ expenses reasonable?

Being a bridesmaid is expensive! Here's what the bride can do to help.
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