You’re getting married, and you can’t wait to have your nearest and dearest by your side when you say your “I Dos.” No doubt, your bridal party is thrilled to be part of your festivities, but they’re also probably a bit nervous about the costs involved — and for a good reason.
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The average bridesmaid dress is priced at $130, according to a 2021 study by TheKnot. Additionally, both hair and makeup artists cost an average of $80 per person. Add to that the cost of a two-day bachelorette party, which had a median spend of $350 per person in 2021 — or $150 per person for a one-day bash — according to The Knot.
If you think it’s cheaper for male attendants, you’re incorrect. Groomsmen’s attire averages $170 per person, according to TheKnot. Seriously pricey, The Knot study revealed a one-day bachelor party has a median spend of $350 per person, rising to $550 for a two-day celebration.
Of course, these costs don’t include expenses like travel, an array of gifts — i.e., for your engagement party, bridal shower and wedding — and expenses bridesmaids may incur for hosting a bridal shower.
While you might already know exactly who you want to be part of your bridal party, Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, said not to ask anyone immediately after your engagement.
“Bask in the glow of this moment before rushing to plan the wedding,” she said. “Once you have your location, venue, date and general logistics you can begin to think about attendants.”
Before asking loved ones to be part of your bridal party, Smith said it’s important to think about costs — i.e., travel and lodging expenses for the wedding and any pre-wedding activities, wedding day attire and grooming services. She recommended creating a basic spreadsheet of cost estimates, so everyone can plan accordingly.
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“You will need to decide what you will and will not be able to fund,” she said. “While it is fabulously generous to cover all of the costs for all of your attendants, that may be prohibitive.”
For example, she said you might pay for the entire bridal party’s hotel rooms on the wedding weekend, as well as covering the cost of attire for two attendants who would not be able to afford it otherwise.
When it comes to expenses your bridal party will pay themselves, there’s a difference between expected costs and those that are just plain unreasonable.
“You simply cannot expect someone to go into debt to be in your wedding,” Smith said. “Be honest about the costs, while understanding you do not get to decide how someone else spends their money.”
For example, she said if someone has been saving up for a trip to Costa Rica, you don’t get to tell them to spend that money on your wedding instead.
She also emphasized the importance of including your bridal party in decisions that affect their wallet.
“Do not make monetary decisions and then tell your attendants after the fact,” she said.
For example, she said there’s a big difference between asking all bridesmaids to wear silver platform shoes and requiring them to purchase a specific brand for $600.
Your wedding day — and the festivities leading up to it — should be one of the happiest times of your life. It’s an honor to have your closest family members and friends by your side throughout the process, so don’t stress them out with excessive expenses.
Getting on the same page from the start about wedding expenses is a must because it allows your bridal party to know what’s expected of them. This should make your big day a happy occasion for everyone because your bridesmaids and groomsmen won’t be burdened with unexpected costs — and constantly bracing for the next bill headed their way.
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