The ring is on your bestie’s finger and she’s officially asked you to be in the wedding. Now what? With the average cost of being in the bridal party at around $1500, we don’t blame you for feeling some anxiety along with the excitement. Do yourself (and your bride) a favor by taking a deep breath…and then trying these five money-saving tips:
1. Early bird special: Start shopping for bridesmaid dresses early and avoid the hefty rush-order and alteration fees charged by most bridal stores. If you’re lucky enough to know the wedding date far in advance, shop right at the end of the season before designers roll out their new collections (so, for a wedding in summer 2013, shop for dresses at the end of summer 2012). This is a great way to get season-appropriate styles at a fraction of the cost. Bonus: your bride will happy to have one (major) detail taken care of well in advance.
2. It’s the little things: Don’t feel pressured to spend above and beyond your dress, travel, and accommodation obligations on extras like a fancy gift or bottle of champagne for the bridal luncheon. Instead, offer to help out with folding programs, stuffing welcome bags, or organizing place cards. Your bride will have a lot to do in the weeks before the wedding (can we underline that?), and we can bet she’d rather have your help and support than anything money could buy.
3. Reduce, reuse, recycle: As we head into spring/summer (aka, peak wedding season), chances are you’ve been invited to more than one soiree. Already have dyed-to-match shoes? See if you can have them re-dyed for another wedding; it’s far less expensive than buying new shoes all together. If your bride is letting you choose your own dress, repurpose one you already have with a new sash or shortened hemline.
4. Invest in the basics: Just like your work wardrobe, your wedding wardrobe should have a few reliable staples that you can use again and again. Invest in beige or gold heels, a neutral clutch, pearl stud earrings (hint: we didn’t say they had to be real!), and a white or navy shawl. No matter the season or color palette for the wedding, they’ll go with everything and keep you looking classy. Watch for these items to go on sale in fall/winter, and come May you’ll be glad you did.
5. Be up front: Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell the bride about your budget. Not only is she relying on you (pulling out at the last minute is a major no-no), but she might also have some creative ideas to save you some dollas. For example, she might suggest other guests in your area that you could carpool with to cut travel costs, or she might have a special group discount for hotels. It doesn’t hurt to ask; if you’re good enough friends to be chosen as a bridesmaid, you’d probably bend over backwards for her — and chances are she will do the same for you!