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The bridesmaid budget: The cost of being in a wedding

What we'll cover

  • The average costs of bridesmaid expenses

  • Opportunities to reduce bridal party spending

  • Sticking to your bridesmaid budget

Being a bridesmaid is a truly special opportunity, but it can come with a hefty price tag. The more you prepare for the costs of being in a wedding party, the more you can relax and enjoy the celebration.

Average cost of a bridesmaid dress

Bridesmaids usually wear a dress that's a specific style and/or color selected by the bride. The average bridesmaid dress costs $130 , and for about one-third of bridal party members, it's the most costly aspect of the event. But the total price can vary widely, especially if your outfit requires alteration. To ease some of the financial burden of this purchase, you could propose that everyone chooses their own dress within a set of style parameters, as non-matching dresses are an increasingly popular trend.

Bachelorette parties or weekends

Bachelorette parties are a blast, but that fun doesn't come cheap. The average one can cost each person around $1,400 — up $500 from 2019. Depending where you go, trip length and activities, this price can be significantly higher or lower.

Participating in a bachelorette weekend can be an important bridesmaid duty (and nobody wants to experience the dreaded FOMO), but feeling apprehensive about cost is often totally reasonable. For a more budget-friendly celebration, try:

  • Suggesting lower-cost activities for the itinerary, like an at-home spa day instead of going for facials and mani-pedis

  • Looking for activities that offer group deals

  • Considering sharing a room with another attendee if you're staying at a hotel or rental

  • Thinking about attending only a portion of the trip, or looking at alternative travel options (like driving) if you can avoid flying to an out-of-town bash

The average bridesmaid dress costs $130, and for about one-third of bridal party members, it's the most costly aspect of a wedding.

Bridal shower and wedding gifts

Gifting is a traditional aspect of weddings, and as a bridesmaid, you might feel the pressure to give multiple presents. Bridal or wedding shower gifts usually average $50 to $75, while the cost of wedding presents can range from $50 to $100 (or up to $200 if from a couple).

Once you determine your budget, you have several options:

  • Choose something from the couple's registry

  • Give cash toward honeymoon activities or home down payments

  • Gift something more sentimental if you're incredibly close with the couple

  • Go in on a bigger gift with a group of friends

Just remember, if your budget means you need to choose between an extravagant gift and attending a wedding event, your presence is likely a far more preferred present!

Costs of traveling for the wedding

Out-of-town weddings can make for a nice getaway, but they don't have to break the bank. Driving can save you 122% on average when compared to flying (each including wedding gifts). To save when booking a trip , reserve your transportation and accommodations ASAP. If driving, consider carpooling with friends. Compare hotel and rental costs to find the best price — you could even see if all the bridesmaids want to go in on renting accommodations together for the weekend.

Miscellaneous costs and managing expenses

After the obvious costs, bridesmaid status may include additional price tags. Some things to prepare for include:

  • Themed outfits, decor or party favors for the bachelorette party

  • Hair and makeup on the big day

  • Accessories and shoes

If you're asked to join a bridal party, there are tools that can help you set a realistic budget that includes some wiggle room in case of a wardrobe emergency or pricey plane ticket. If you're asked to be in a bridal party, start by creating buckets in your Ally Bank Savings Account for certain needs like the dress, travel and bachelorette party, and add money to those savings goals over time to help remove the burden when it's time make the needed purchases. You can even accelerate those savings with automated boosters.

Find a budget you can say 'I do' to

Weddings aren't worth going into debt — no matter how much you love the couple. Decide how much you can spend and know it's okay if you need to say no to a bridesmaid-related expense, like opting to do your own makeup instead of paying for a professional. Good friends will understand, and less financial stress makes for a better wedding guest!

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