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Bride Guide > Planning > The Economics of Being a Bridesmaid

The Economics of Being a Bridesmaid

There’s no time like tax time to remind us that we work hard for our money. Although many brides may often spare no expense for their big day, what about when it’s someone else’s big day? Should the expense be spared?

If you’re like us, you’ve not only looked forward to our wedding, but also to the day when you can to stand up there next to your best friends and support them as they tie the knot. If only it was that easy. Unfortunately, in the bridesmaid game, sometimes it's pay to play. Between the dress, the hair and makeup, showers and the bachelorette party, being a bridesmaid is somewhat of a financial commitment in itself.

We decided to get to the bottom of it by surveying 600+ bridesmaids about the less glamorous side of the gig – the expenses. Now, an average woman is a bridesmaid 3 times before she turns 27, and this is a cost that for many is non-negotiable. By no means are we advocating not being there for your friends on their big days. However, knowledge is power, so we set out to provide you with info you'll need to make smart choices when someone in your squad pops the big question, will you be my bridesmaid? 


Most bridesmaids have known the bride for quite a longtime, which makes it an expense they may not think twice about. You may have even known the bride since birth – 25% of bridesmaids are actually relatives, and another 18% were friends since middle school or high school. Those are some deep roots, so we don’t recommend letting money get in the way. 


So how much does it cost to be a bridesmaid, all in? On average - $1324. That includes the dress, shoes, hair + makeup, accessories, the bachelorette party, the bridal shower, travel and lodging, and the wedding gift. 


Does that seem crazy to you? Or, does it actually seem underestimated? Perhaps this is due to your geography. You may be wondering if this varies by location; it does. Northeastern bridesmaids are paying about $300 on average more than bridesmaids in the Midwest. Here’s how it breaks down. 

Specifically, what costs more by region? Ladies on the west coast are leading the charge in travel related fees. However, the Northeast is the most expensive in every other category. If you’re a bridesmaid on a budget, I hope you’re located in the South or Midwest. 


“Where’s the bride in all of this?” you may think. Isn’t she chipping in for some of these expenses? As you may imagine, she has plenty of her own expenses to worry about, so according to our bridesmaids, she isn’t covering much of the cost. 

An average, a woman is bridesmaid five times in her life; which means five times the expenses, but also five times the fun!

What’s the line between stretching yourself a little to be a supportive friend, versus over-extending. Odds are, if you’re debating that question, perhaps you should give a little more thought before you say, “I do” to your crew. If you’re close enough to the bride to get the invite in the first place, odds are she’ll understand your situation and be happy to have you as a friend, either way.

Now, we’re not saying don't be a bridesmaid. We love being a bridesmaid! We’re just saying to plan for it. Sharing the big day with your friend or family member doesn’t come cheap, but how can you put a price on friendship? 
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