A friend has invited you to be in her bridal party. Before saying “yes”, ask exactly what will be expected of you, says Rebecca Sudano, trustee in bankruptcy and vice president of BDO Canada. Consider the cost of shower and wedding gifts, dress and accessories and co-hosting a shower, plus all the other extra costs.
Type & Size of Event: Black tie, semi-formal, small and intimate or a large event?
Location: Local, resort, another city?
Destination Wedding: Will it be an all-inclusive resort? Will the wedding be off-season? What is the cost?
Dresses: Will they be made-to-order, bought at a retailer or choose your own?
Accessories: Will you have to buy matching shoes, jewellery, clutches?
Hair and Makeup: What will be the cost to you of using professional hair and makeup stylists?
Destination weddings are expensive for attendants, but less expensive if they are off-season. You pay your own travel and resort costs, and time away may mean lost income. So, for many women, being a bridesmaid is a financial stretch.
- If the bride’s heart is set on a destination event, don’t be afraid to say you can’t go.
- If you accept the honour, put yourself on a budget and take advantage of lower prices when available.
- Cheapest days to buy airfare are usually Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
- Cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Accept layovers or take the red eye.
- Book well ahead for best rates.
Negotiate costs with the bride. There are countless options available. “Trends are moving away from matching dresses towards cohesive but varied styles,” says Rebecca Chan of Rebecca Chan Wedding and Events. Get inspired on Pinterest. Encourage the bride to work with her bridesmaids. Thee bride decides colour and length, but let the bridesmaids decide on the best style for each woman. The surprise about today’s bridesmaid options is that they increasingly are styles that really can be worn after the big day.
“Consider giving the couple a meaningful gift rather than an extravagant one,” says Rebecca. Alternatively, the bridal party can divide the cost of an expensive item. If you want to give your own gift, get on to the registry early in order to stay on budget. Most of all, be upfront with the bride about your financial concerns to avoid bailing at the last minute.
A bachelorette party in Las Vegas or Miami may be on the bride’s radar. Speak up; say you can’t afford to go. Perhaps offer alternative suggestions – staycation, winery road trip weekend, or host the event in your home. Delegate tasks and financial responsibilities so that everyone stays on budget. Always check your receipts. Prepare DIY bridal shower favours. Organize inexpensive, fun activities such as a croquet tournament.
Originally published in Today’s Bride magazine, Spring/Summer 2015.