So one of your besties is tying the knot! Hooray!
And she’s asked you to be in the bridal party? Why of course, you’re excited to be part of her big day and you’d be honoured to frock up for the occasion! That’s how she sees it going in her mind when she asks you, anyway. You might actually be left filled with dread…
What happens next is that either the bride will pay for your dress, shoes, jewelry, spray tan, manicures, pedicures, hair and makeup out of her wedding budget. Or she’ll expect you to pick up the tab – on top of any money you spend on gifts, the bridal shower, hen’s night and travel to her wedding (particularly, if it’s a destination wedding). The average cost an Australian bridesmaid spends on these things is between $1500 to $3000.
There’s no hard and fast rule around this. Some brides pay, some brides don’t. When they don’t pay, being in a bridal party can put a strain on your finances…and also your friendship. if it isn’t handled properly.
According to a UK survey of 1,939 brides in 2014, 32% no longer spoke to at least one of their bridesmaids after the wedding reception, citing petty arguments over things like dresses, hairstyles and hen’s party arrangements as the reasons for their falling out.
Nobody wants to be saddled with an expensive dress that they’ll never wear again just because it was the one the bride absolutely wanted! The same goes for the shoes and the accessories! Nobody wants to go into debt for someone else’s wedding either. Sometimes, the costs are so exorbitant, they’ll run your credit card bill up big time.
Spare a thought for this poor lass who wrote to online wedding bible, A Practical Wedding with a crazy dilemma. After agreeing to be in a friend’s bridal party, she was stunned by the outrageous cost she was expected to wear:
“She is marrying into a great deal of money, and she’s having a huge, expensive wedding. That’s fine. The problem is that the dresses she selected for her bridesmaids START at $7,000. That’s right—$7,000 is the price of the cheapest of her choices, and that does NOT include alterations, shoes, jewelry, hair, makeup, etc. The dress that she favors comes in at $15,000 before alterations.
She did not give us any kind of warning that the dresses she is considering are so expensive. I’m working, but spending $7,000 plus on a dress that I will wear for less than one day (not even) and then never wear it again (it is beautiful, but it is bridal) is an expense I cannot justify. And if she opts for her favorite, at $15,000 before alterations…”
Ouch! She then wrote to the bride and explained that she simply cannot afford this sort of money.
The bride wrote back and told her their 15-year friendship is over and she isn’t welcome at the wedding. Good riddance, I say.
There have been lots of stories in recent years about brides having unrealistic expectations of their bridesmaids and becoming ultra controlling of everything – demanding they don’t put on weight or cut or colour their hair. All that is pretty awful. So is expecting the average person to be able to commit a huge amount of their income to be part of your big day. It’s also narcissistic and delusional. People have their own expenses and plans for their money. Maybe they want to buy a house, go overseas, get a new car. Hey, they might even want to spend that money towards their OWN wedding!
While this is an extreme example, it highlights that some brides (not all!) lose all sense of proportion about how significant their wedding day is to the rest of the world.
Yes, their family and friends are happy and excited for them and really want to share this milestone with them. But just because planning their perfect fairytale wedding has consumed their entire lives, doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.
What To Do
- If you’re asked to be a bridesmaid, you should be up-front with the bride and ask her what her expectations are. If it’s a bit expensive, but doable with some planning, start budgeting now, especially if the wedding is one to two years away.
- If she’s expecting you to don a designer gown and Jimmy Choos out of your own pocket and you can barely pay your rent, then you should tell her that you can’t afford it and politely decline being part of the bridal party.
A good friend will understand. If she still wants you to be part of the wedding party, she might offer to pay for some or all of it.
And if she doesn’t understand and ends your friendship over it? Well, it’s pretty obvious what sort of friend she was.