How to Be a Bridesmaid and Not Go Broke Before the Wedding

Privileges of being a bridesmaid include participating in all the fun pre-wedding parties, getting glammed up, wearing gorgeous dresses and being a VIP at the main event. Plus you’ll end up with a gallery of gorgeous photos snapped at the engagement and hen’s party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself. But the role comes with a hefty price tag because the bride’s hand-picked A-team has to fork out hard earned cash to cover things such as gowns, accessories, dinners, drinks and expensive gifts. These tips will help you be a top-notch bridesmaid, making your bride feel like they’re on top of the world, without breaking the bank!

Who Pays for What?

Did you know many Aussie brides pay more than $1,000 for their friends’ weddings? When you think of dresses and dress alterations, shoes, bouquets, jewellery, events and props, food, accommodation and flights, it is easy to imagine how costs quickly add up. But many bridesmaids don’t know the dos and don’ts of the wedding etiquette or who pays for what. Are you responsible for organising all the pre-wedding parties, and are you allowed to share the bill or delegate tasks? Who should buy the attire? Are you expected to buy an expensive gift for the couple? Here is what you need to know about the costs of each item on the bridesmaids’ to-do list.

Bridesmaid Dresses

Are you expected to buy your own dress for the wedding? There isn’t a straightforward answer. Normally, bridesmaids are paying for their own dresses unless the bride offers to purchase them herself. If she chooses a simple dress that costs up to $200, then it is ok to ask the girls to pay for them. However, if she settles for more expensive designer pieces, then she is expected to cover the costs.

Bridesmaid Accessories

Who buys bridesmaid accessories? Traditionally, the groom is paying for the bouquets. It is also common that the bride gives jewellery or other cool accessories to her bridesmaids. With a chic dress and a colourful bouquet, a simple item like this knot bracelet or this personalised clutch is just about enough to make an impression.

Getting Ready Outfits

It is up to the bride to decide if there are going to be particular getting ready outfits for her and her crew. Usually, she chooses and buys personalised robes or pyjamas. These unique items make lovely gifts for the bridesmaids!

Hair and Makeup

The bride chooses a makeup artist and a hairstylist, and she usually pays for the entire bridal party. It is also common for the bride to split the bill with the bridesmaids so that everyone pays for their own hair and makeup. If this is the case, the bride should make sure to find an affordable service. The bridesmaids pay any additional services such as manicure, pedicure or beauty treatments that are a part of the pre-wedding glam regime, unless the bride decides to treat her tribe with a complimentary pampering session.

Pre-Wedding Rituals

Let’s start from the beginning… The bride and her family typically cover the costs of an engagement party or the bill is being split between the two families. Occasionally, the maid of honour organises this event for the bride, which can potentially be an additional cost. However, the bridesmaids’ primary duty is to plan a bridal shower and a hen’s night. In addition to booking venues and activities, bridesmaids also need to think of styling and provide props & decorations as well as mini gifts for the bride. The maid of honour and the bridesmaids typically share the costs of organising both events.

How Much is it Going to Cost?

Once you get the invitation to be a bridesmaid, you need to establish what you need to pay for and set the budget. Every wedding is different, and the price depends on the location and the concept of the wedding, as well as of other factors. If you need to start saving money and you are not sure how much money you’ll actually need, speak to the bride and ask her what she expects you to cover.

Here is the list of things bridesmaids normally pay for with average prices for an Australian wedding:

  • Bridesmaids Dresses: $200
  • Bridesmaids Hair & Make-up: average cost of wedding hair and makeup is $95 per hour plus $50 for the manicure/pedicure
  • Travel Expenses: $100+ (depending on the destination)
  • Accommodation: $200+ (depending on the hotel)
  • Bridal shower: $50+ per person
  • Hen’s night: $150+ per person
  • Gift for the Bride and Groom: $80 - $150

5 Pro Tips to Save Money

With so many expenses to cover, it is easy to lose control over your spending. And it isn’t just the dress, the shoes and the parties. If you decide to plan a decadent destination hen’s weekend, you may end up paying thousands instead of hundreds. Or if you want to splurge on a pair of expensive shoes to match the dress, the outfit may cost more than you intended.

So here are some of the useful tips to be the world’s best bridesmaid / BFF without going broke!

  • Don’t go over the top with props and decorations! You can easily spend too much money if you can’t resist the temptation of opulent floral arrangements and over-the-top table settings. Keep it simple, but make sure that you have those essentials for jaw-dropping photos. The Hen Box includes everything from ‘bride to be’ sashes and tiaras to photo props, card games, tattoos, posters and quirky balloons.

  • Skip bridesmaid dress alterations! Whether you pay $100 or $300 for the dress, alterations can add up, and you’ll end up blowing a big chunk of your budget on attire. To avoid this, try to fix problems by yourself. You can try on a different pair of shoes, wear shapewear or add an accessory to camouflage an imperfection on the dress.

  • Look for discounts and free events! Start planning the pre-wedding events early to grab special offers and discounts for all kinds of items such as bride-to-be balloons, tiaras for hen’s night or gift boxes. You’ll get better prices for props and decorations if you buy in bulk, so consider purchasing items for all the pre-wedding events at the same store. And to make the hen’s night even more interesting, find cool free events to include in the itinerary.

  • Consider DIY projects! Why not get your hands dirty to save some money and create a beautiful Pinterest-worthy setting for a fraction of the price. There is nothing you can’t create with a hot glue gun and some supplies to get your craft on.

  • Borrow items! Don’t forget you can save money by borrowing party items from past brides and bridesmaids. You can reuse anything from photo props to Instax cameras and decorations made of faux blooms.