How times have changed. Once, the father of the bride footed nearly all wedding costs; these days, bridesmaids are expected to buy their own dresses. According to the Dessy Group, the average cost of a bridesmaid dress is $200, not including alterations — usually another $30 to $50. Other costs bridesmaids are expected to front include hair styling, makeup and accessories. The expenses can add up really quickly.
Here are some ways to save your bridesmaids some cash on the big day.
- Shop at a non-bridal store. Brides can browse through bridal party look-books for ideas, but when it comes time to pick a dress, see if a department store carries a similar style. Macy’s website actually has dresses categorized for weddings and formal wear, many of which cost only a fraction of the price of a traditional bridesmaid dress. Perhaps some of these dresses would look good on your bridal party. Off-the-rack dresses often come in multiple colors, so brides can coordinate with their wedding theme. Brides can also check with their bridesmaids to see if there are any brands that they really like and fit well. Check out stores or brands that everyone is familiar with for classic styles that work for both weddings and all-occasion parties so your friends can actually wear their dresses more than once.
- Have bridesmaid dresses custom-made. This sounds expensive, but often dresses are priced higher due to brand name, not because of quality. The cost of materials usually isn’t incredibly high. Most bridesmaid-type dresses are made of inexpensive polyester. A local seamstress may be willing to negotiate a rate for the entire bridal party. Custom-made dresses also cut down on the cost of alterations and ensure a great fit.
- Borrow dresses from a local choir. A relative of one Living on the Cheap member used her high school’s choral dresses for her bridesmaids. This free option loosened up funds for other bridal party activities and splurges.
- Offer some choices. Not every dress works as well on every body type – nor every checkbook. Select a few styles in the same color and let your the ladies choose which will be the most flattering to her waistline and wallet.
- Pony up for an accessory. Many brides incorporate an accessory they would like their attendants to wear as part of their special “thank-you gift.” One bride planned to buy her friends’ shoes since she was asking them all to wear a particular color. Another small gift in addition to the chosen accessory may also be in order.
The friends involved in a bride’s special day want to be there for the bride. Do them a favor by thinking of ways they can cut costs so that everyone is happy. Some brides make it clear from the start that they don’t expect their bridesmaids to give them any gifts beyond doing their bridesmaid duties. This is a nice way to make your bridal party feel appreciated. Another way to help save money is to alleviate travel costs by holding local bachelorette parties and showers. Happy bridesmaids make happy brides. Be thoughtful in what you ask of your bridesmaids.