It's Costing Me $2,000 to Be in a Wedding. Here's Why
by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on July 17, 2019
You don't have to be the one getting married to spend a fortune.
When a good friend of mine announced her engagement last year, I was thrilled for her. But if I'm being honest, a little part of me panicked. I knew she'd ask me to be one of her bridesmaids. It's not that I didn't want that honor; it's that I knew it would be expensive.
The average U.S. wedding for 100 to 150 guests costs $33,391, according to The Knot. When we see numbers like that, we're apt to feel bad for the bride and groom (or whoever's in charge of footing that bill). But being a bridesmaid is hardly a cheap prospect. In fact, by the time I'm done with this wedding, I expect to be about $2,000 in the hole. Here's where that number comes from:
Bridesmaid dress: $270
Bridesmaid dresses are notoriously ugly and unflattering, so I'm happy to report that my friend selected a tasteful one for her upcoming nuptials. Unfortunately, said dress is setting me back $200 plus another $70 to have it altered. That's a lot of money for a piece of clothing I'll never wear again.
Most brides want their bridesmaids to have shoes that match their dresses. So I'm plunking down an additional $50 to buy shoes that -- wait for it -- I'll never wear again.
Manicure and pedicure: $50
Many people do the mani-pedi thing on the regular. I'm not one of them. But I know the bride wants her bridesmaids to look polished, so I'll shell out $50 to have someone paint my nails. For the record, I'd do this myself if I felt at all capable. But I don't, so I won't.
Hotel stay: $700
My friend is getting married at a lovely resort about 3.5 hours away from where we live. The good news is that it'll be a nice weekend getaway. The bad news is that each room at that resort costs a little over $300 per night. Throw in fuel costs and tolls, and I'm looking at $700 to take part in the festivities.
Are you wondering why I'm staying two nights? It's because the first night is the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself is the following night. On the plus side, my friend is generously covering the cost of all meals while we're away for the weekend -- so that's one expense I don't have to bear myself.
Bridal shower: $300
My fellow bridesmaids and I opted to throw our friend a modest shower at a local restaurant. We treated guests to brunch and kept party favors to a minimum. Still, the $1,200 tab came out to $300 apiece.
Bachelorette party: $220
Some brides insist on going to Vegas or relaxing at a fancy resort for their bachelorette weekend. My friend didn't ask for any of that, thankfully.
But we did spend a night on the town that started off at a pottery studio and ended up at a restaurant with an expensive wine list. The total cost for that night, including chipping in for the bride, was somewhere in the ballpark of $200. That includes the Uber we hailed to get her home safely afterward.
Wedding gift: $400
Back when I was asked to participate in her wedding, the soon-to-be bride told me point blank that she doesn't expect a gift. She knew I'd be spending money on a dress, shoes, pre-wedding festivities, and travel.
But if there's one area in my life where I don't like to be stingy, it's gift-giving. So I'm writing my friend a check nonetheless.
Total tab: $1,990
Okay, you got me -- I rounded up. Though chances are a $10 expense will arise between now and the wedding that will bring me to an even $2,000.
You may be wondering how I'm going to pay to take part in this shindig. The answer is my savings account. I've known about this wedding for over a year and I've been setting money aside in preparation. This way, I won't be forced to charge up a storm on a credit card and risk racking up interest.
Once I found out about the wedding, I immediately went through my budget, picked out a few expenses to cut back on, and banked the difference. For example, I enjoy dining out, but I cut back a little in recent months to free up cash for this event. I also put off a home improvement project I'd been saving for to swing this wedding instead.
Participating in a wedding is a costly endeavor -- and one that required me to buckle down and be mindful of my spending. But because I saved appropriately, I know I'll be able to enjoy the big day rather than spend that entire weekend stressing over what it's costing me.
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