Esther, bridesmaid in New York
"Jean, one of my best friends, was the bride. Since she'd also been a bridesmaid before, she was definitely conscious of how expenses can add up. It was important to her that we didn't spend beyond our means, so she was great about being really easygoing and not expecting us to spring for anything too extravagant."
Bachelorette party #1: $750
"It was Jean's idea to go to Miami for the party. There were 13 of us, and we all chipped in to cover her expenses, but she paid her own airfare. The first night we ate at a low-key Latin restaurant she wanted to try; then we went to Wall for cocktails. The second day, one of Jean's close—and generous!—work friends paid to charter a yacht for the day. That night we had dinner at Scarpetta, then got a table with bottle service at LIV."
Bridal shower: $200
Jane, West Village
"There were six bridesmaids, and we split the cost of the shower—a brunch for 20 people in a private room at Jane—evenly among us; the price included the food and unlimited mimosas. The restaurant provided the floral arrangements, so we didn't have to spend anything on the décor."
Bridesmaid dress: $160
JS Boutique, nordstrom.com
"Jean was really laid-back about what we wore—all she asked was that we pick out navy blue cocktail dresses."
"Jean bought us each feather hair accessories, and let us wear any shoes we liked—I found a pair of silver heels online for $50."
Hair and makeup: $0
"Jean covered the cost of professional hair and makeup services for all the bridesmaids. I had my hair done at the Bumble and bumble Styling Bar inside Bloomingdale's, then went to the apartment of another bridesmaid, where a makeup artist from MAC did our makeup."
Wedding gifts: $400
Total amount: $1,560