Avoid Putting your Bridesmaids & Groomsmen in Debt

If you’re in that twenty to thirty-something age range, odds are that you have friends and family who are getting married. If you are close with any of them, there’s a good chance you will be asked to be in the wedding party at some point.

This post was put together with the help of my wife, an expert in this topic area. She has been in six wedding parties, three of which as the Maid of Honor (I’m lucky I scored a likable wife!).

Would you like to be my Bridesmaid/Groomsman?

It’s really tough to say “no” to that question, but if you’ve never been through it before, it’s important to know what saying “yes” means, especially if you’re in a tough spot financially. I’m sure a lot of us who’ve been through this phase have reluctantly said “yes” to someone who we knew we wouldn’t be in touch with in a year who had like 12 people in their gigantic wedding party (and yeah, we’re not in touch anymore as predicted).

The bridesmaids definitely have the roughest go financially, with a huge burden being put on Maid of Honors, in particular.

The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid:

cost of bridesmaid & groomsman

  • Gift for the Shower: ~$50
  • Gift for the Bachelorette party: $25-$50
  • Gift for the Wedding:  ~$50 (yes you have to buy gifts for each party)
  • Dress: $150-200
  • Shoes: $30
  • Alterations: $50
  • Undergarments: $30
  • Hair: $50
  • Makeup: $50 (some brides ask to have done day of, others brides – the good ones – don’t)
  • Total cost of being a bridesmaid : ~$500

The Added Cost of Being a Maid of Honor:

It’s hard to put a price on this, but the Maid of Honor generally bears the brunt of paying for the bachelorette party. It could include travel, drinks, limo, taxi, gag gifts, entertainment, and other miscellaneous stuff. Additionally, the Maid of Honor can get stuck with bridal shower costs if the mother does not pick up the tab (they most often do). Let’s assign a total additional cost of $500 for the b-party.

The Cost of Being a Groomsman:

  • Gift for the Wedding: ~$50
  • Tux Rental: $150-$200
  • Shoe Rental: $20 (if not included with tux)
  • Alterations: usually comes with tux fitting
  • Haircut: $20
  • Bachelor Party: $50/person
  • Total cost of being a groomsman: ~ $350

The Added Cost of Being the Best Man:

The groomsmen tend to be a little more involved in paying for the bachelor party than the bridesmaids, so the Best Man tends to not get as stuck with as big of a bill as the Maid of Honor. However, they will often get stuck with the costs for a limo/taxi, gags, and of course, the stripper (j/k, but not really if that’s the kind of party you’re having). Total additional cost for Best Man – $200 (we’ll assume you’re going the ‘no stripper’ route).

Travel/Opportunity Cost of Being a Bridesmaid or Groomsman:

Again, hard to assign a number, but both could be significant if you don’t live in the near vicinity of the bride or groom. There is the cost associated with travel to and from and maybe even time off work to attend all the parties, rehearsal dinner, and finally the wedding.

Considerations from the Bride and Groom

We ask three things from you before you make someone pony up $500-$1,000 for ‘your special day’:

  1. When you ask someone be a bridesmaid/groomsman, put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, “If I were in their situation financially, would I like to be asked to be in their wedding for the same cost that I’m putting on them?”.
  2. Do you really need 10 or 12 people in your wedding party? And do you HAVE to add that one poor sap just to even your pictures out? Really?? My wife and I had a Best Man and a Maid of Honor, and that’s it. We don’t regret it one bit and you probably won’t either.
  3. What’s wrong with khaki pants (for the guys) and old prom dress for the gals (if they still fit)? In fact, that’s what we told our Best Man and Maid of Honor to wear. They spent nothing for the day of the wedding. Break free from stodgy American wedding traditions! You’ll like yourself more later on for it.

Recent data shows that high wedding costs can lead to lower marriage success rates. So there may be more reason than you think to watch the cost of your wedding, outside of making your wedding party poorer.

Considerations from Those Being Asked to be in the Wedding

Unless you really don’t like the person and don’t see them as a long-term friend, you can’t really say “no” and you’re pretty much stuck with what the bride/groom ask for. Grin and bear the expense, and don’t hold any ill will. They may in your shoes someday at your wedding, after all.

Wedding Party Discussion:

  • Have you said “yes” and had no idea what you were getting into?
  • How much did it cost you to be in each wedding party you were in?
  • Have you been asked to be in a wedding from someone you didn’t really care much for or have not kept in touch with?

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