Getting the Most out of Life

Being a Bridesmaid: How to Fulfill Your Duties on a Budget

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Being a bridesmaid is a fantastic honor that most of us are thrilled to accept. You get to support a close friend on her wedding day, and be there for her as she enters a new chapter in her life. But you also get to help foot the bill for a number of wedding-related activities and expenses. With some helpful advice, it’s possible to fulfill your duties as a member of the wedding party without blowing through all your cash.

Bridesmaid on a Budget

Honestly Evaluate Your Situation

Before you accept that wonderful invitation to be a bridesmaid, think long and hard about whether or not you can truly afford the experience. If you’re expected to pay a few hundred dollars for a dress, travel for the bachelorette party or wedding itself, host any pre-ceremony events, or pitch in for multiple gifts—and you already know you don’t have the funds—it’s okay to explain your financial situation to the bride.

Don’t feel obligated to do something that’s not right for you. Be open and honest, and explain that, while you’re honored by the request to be in her wedding party, your budget will prevent you from fulfilling your duties as a bridesmaid.

Set Your Budget and Plan Ahead

If you feel like you can handle the duties of being a bridesmaid but need to maintain your financial security, be prepared. Set a budget with your fellow bridesmaids for costs associated with the bridal shower and bachelorette party. Plan ahead with big costs, such as gifts and travel, too. If you know you’ll need to travel for all, or part, of the wedding, book accommodations and transportation as soon as you can. You can also carpool or share rooms when you can.

And while you may not have any say in the cost of the dress and accessories you wear on the wedding day, you can help the bride find cost-effective solutions. Be proactive and collaborate with the other bridesmaids to suggest dresses and shoes that fall within your budget.

Think Twice Before Paying for Extras

You don’t need to volunteer for more duties than what’s already expected of wedding party members. Sure, you might want to buy the girls one round of drinks during the bachelorette party, but understand that you don’t need to go all out. It’s not a competition to see who can spend more money on the bride.

If you have to attend multiple events where gifts are expected, consider gifting something you made yourself at the bridal shower if you already planned to split the cost of a big wedding gift with a group. A personal, sentimental gift will mean the world to the bride—and frankly, she’ll likely cherish it longer than the random assortment of kitchen knickknacks she racks up through her registry.

Consider skipping the alterations on your dress, too. Unless it’s an item you’re truly excited about wearing, it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t fit perfectly. You can make it through one day and one wear without alterations.

Don’t Overcommit

Being a bridesmaid doesn’t mean that you have to attend every pre-wedding event. Again, maintain open and honest communication, and discuss which events your friend really wants you to be at. Then, if necessary, you’ll be able to agree on one or two that you can skip.

Being a bridesmaid is a big honor, but that doesn’t negate the importance of taking care of your finances. Plan ahead, pay for only what you need, and always look for ways to split costs so you can get through your duties on a budget.

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Kali Hawlk is a financial writer and the marketing manager for XY Planning Network. She is passionate about helping others do more with their money, their careers, and their lives. You can find her on Twitter @KaliHawlk.