Help! I'm Supposed to Be a Bridesmaid, but I'm Broke — What Should I Do?

Bridesmaids, Budget, Etiquette

Let's face it: Being in a friend's wedding is expensive. From the bridesmaid dress and accessories to bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and any travel in between (not to mention presents!), it can cost a whole lot to support your friend as a bridesmaid in her wedding. So if you know before the festivities have even begun that it's out of your price range, can you still accept a role as bridesmaid? Our experts weigh in.

If you've been asked to be a bridesmaid but you already know you can't afford everything that goes along with the title, begin by getting honest with the bride-to-be. Let her know how much you'd love to participate, but be upfront about whether you can only attend a few events (or none of them!) in order to still afford your bridesmaid dress, flight and hotel for her wedding. If you're close enough to be a bridesmaid, hopefully she'll be understanding and will let you off the hook for some of the pre-wedding responsibilities.

When it comes to your dress, look into buying a used version of the dress she's selected. If she's chosen one of Jenny Yoo or Monique Lhuillier's designs in a popular color, you may even be able to rent it from a site like Vow to be Chic, saving you over 50% off the purchase price (and room in your closet).

Looking at travel options? Book strategically. If you can, fly on off days, and book early — but not too early. 45 days out is the sweet spot for getting a great price, and it's worth it to look at both travel aggregator sites and the airlines' direct websites. Get in touch with other bridesmaids to discuss things like sharing a rental car or splitting a hotel room. That double queen room is way cheaper when it's split four ways!

And of course, there's the gift. Again, talk to other bridesmaids or friends attending the wedding about going dutch on a present. If a few of you team up, you'll be able to spend less while still giving a super-nice gift the couple will really enjoy.

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