Monday, May 30, 2011

Bearing The Financial Burden of Being A Bridesmaid

The 27-year-old Brooklyn resident declined the invitation to participate in a fifth wedding, after noticing very early on that the bride didn’t seem to understand the sort of sacrifices she was asking for. Her sorority sister Stephanie went straight from her parents’ home to her fiancĂ©e’s apartment, never having to pay bills on her own. “I was particularly annoyed when she told me that her $150 hostess dress wasn’t “that much money” after I had just been laid off from my job. Because she wasn’t used to “real” bills, she forgot to add in the plane ticket, shoes, wedding gift, and other wedding and travel essentials I would have had to pay for. While I was considering dipping into my savings to attend her wedding, I quickly retracted that thought after her comment.”

Stephanie failed to consider Sasha’s financial state, which is a big ‘no-no’ when selecting a bridesmaid. If a woman is close to you, but doesn’t seem to have the cash to take on such a big role in your wedding, consider alternative ways of having her participate or work to minimize the burden on her pockets (i.e. select dress and attire that aren’t over the top expensive and make costly bridal party events optional).

Bridgette Bartlett, founder of, advises that brides take time to think about what is going on in a friend or relative’s life before asking them to take on the responsibility of her wedding. “A bride should be considerate of the other things that might be on a bridesmaid’s plate before delegating responsibilities. Are any of your potential bridesmaids working full-time while completing graduate school? Did your matron of honor just have a baby? Plan accordingly.”

Ashley, an attorney in Washington, DC, has been a bridesmaid “countless” times and is typically excited to help her friends and family members celebrate their special days. However, she’s been hit with a laundry list of crazy expectations from brides over the years: “I’ve been asked to purchase everything you can imagine, from weaves and color contacts, to four-inch-heels and arts and craft projects” she said. Her worst experience was with a friend who created bridesmaid’s budgets that are “more than she and her fiancĂ©e make in a month…maybe two!”

Bartlett has many anecdotes about women who go a bit overboard when it comes to their demands. “I have heard stories of brides requesting that all of their bridesmaids grow their hair to a certain length by the wedding day for a particular hairstyle or asked that bridesmaids lose weight or maintain a set weight for the wedding. I even know of a bride who gave all her attendants large pink cups specifically to drink water from eight times daily so that their complexions would be clear by her wedding day.”

Bartlett provided the following estimated costs for bridesmaids, suggesting that a maid of honor should add about 10 to 15 percent more for her contribution; geographical location, scale of the wedding and time of year will also have an impact on a bridesmaid’s bottom line:

Dress: $200-$250 (including alterations)

Shoes: $75-100

Hair, nails, makeup: $200-$250

Travel (gas, tolls, etc.): $200-$250 (this number will be much higher if the bridesmaid lives in a different state than the bride or if nuptials are a destination affair)

Shower/bachelorette gifts: $50 each

Contribution to shower and bachelorette events: $200

Misc. activities (bridal party tea, spa day, “girlfriend getaway”, etc): $50-$1,000

Before saying ‘yes’ to an anxious bride, Bartlett advises women to be honest with themselves about their ability to participate in a wedding. “While most people immediately consider the financial obligations of being in a wedding, they fail to also factor in the amount of time and emotional support that is expected of them. Women should evaluate all of these things before agreeing to be in a wedding.”

“If you decide that you cannot take on the responsibilities to be a bridesmaid, let the bride know as soon as possible,” said Bartlett. ” She might feel slighted at first but ultimately she’ll appreciate you being honest early in her planning process.” If you find the bride’s needs to be more than you can handle, but you feel that you can’t decline her request, she suggests that you approach her directly, but warns “be sure to offer solutions and not just complaints. If she has asked all the bridesmaids to wear pricey designer shoes, show her a similar less expensive pair you found online.”

In order to prevent serious damage to post-wedding relationships, Bartlett has this advice for brides: “Go easy on your girls! Even if you don’t intend on drifting into ‘bridezilla’ land, it can be hard to forget that the entire world isn’t going to stop because you’re getting married. Remember that your bridesmaids still have their own relationships, careers and families to maintain.”

There are plenty of ways for brides to make the work of their bridesmaids less frustrating. Considering the cost of a bridesmaids dress, Bartlett advises that brides choose dresses that their bridal party can wear again. Consider picking a color and have everyone choose a silhouette that is most flattering to her body type. No one wants to drop $200 on an unflattering dress that will collect dust in the back of her closet, nor do they want to feel like their bride only took her own glamour into consideration.

“Most makeup artists and hair stylists offer group rates for bridal parties” said Bartlett. “Why not pay for your attendants to get their hair styled or makeup done by the same professional that is tending to you on the wedding day? Their wallets will be extremely grateful and you’ll ensure a bit of uniformity in your pictures.” This is a great way for brides to decrease bridesmaids’ costs without breaking her own budget, while ensuring that her girls are being styled by people that she trusts.

A wedding can be a wonderful experience for a bride to share with some of her most trusted girls, but it can also cause irreparable damage to relationships if both parties aren’t honest and reasonable about their expectations. There are few times in your life in which you can reasonably expect someone to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in order to make sure you have a memorable celebration. And if a bride isn’t both considerate with her demands and grateful for those who work to meet them, she may find herself with a few less friends to call upon after the wedding.

Article Posted by The Atlanta Post by Jamilah-Asali I. Lemieux,
Article Sponsored by Wells Fargo

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