The Maid of Honor's Guide to Avoid Going Broke Before the Wedding

Bride close with bridesmaids

Photo by Carlie Statsky

Saying "I do" to a maid of honor role is truly something worthy of a popped bottle of champagne and a night of celebration with you and the bride-to-be. It's an honor to be chosen as the bride's go-to gal pal and personal party planner throughout the wedding adventure. As her maid of honor, you can count on being the bridal party's team captain, social director, and at times, even their peacekeeper.

Taking on this giant role is infamous for a few reasons. First, it can be extra time-consuming—it's not uncommon for MOHs to feel as if it's somewhat of a part-time job, albeit a fun one. You're required to be there for your almost-married friend through everything from planning obstacles to emotional roller coasters, all the while maintaining the role as the voice of reason and continuing to be her best friend. It's a tough balancing act but, in the end, totally worth it to stand next to your BFF on her big day. The other reason the maid of honor role gets some heat? It can be really expensive.

As the bride's right-hand woman, you're in charge of throwing some large-scale pre-wedding events—the bachelorette party, the bridal shower, maybe even an engagement brunch—as well as picking up the tab for decorations and other miscellaneous items here and there before the wedding takes place. You'll also have to buy the bridesmaid dress that the bride carefully picked out for you—plus alterations, shoes, jewelry, etc.—and then, carefully pick out a gift or two for her off-the-wedding registry.

So if you're jumping into being a maid of honor and starting to scratch your head while looking at your salary, rent, account balances, and wondering how in the world you can afford this role of a lifetime, we've got you covered. Take a look at these genius ways to save money as a maid of honor so that you (or your savings account) don't break out into hives when you look at your next credit card statement.

1. Set a Budget

Before diving into the details and pressing the purchase button on items, crafts, and even travel plans for the bachelorette party, take a step back and create a budget. Plan out how much money you're able to spend on your MOH role and then pinky-promise yourself that you'll stick to that amount throughout the wedding adventure.

2. Chat With the Bride Immediately

Right after the bride gets engaged, she may head straight into planning mode, coming up with bold and gigantic ideas of what she wants and when she wants it. Be sure to lend your opinion from the start and keep her grounded when it comes to plans that could potentially eat up your personal funds. Give her a heads up about the budget you've already set and let her know any limitations from the get-go.

3. Then Loop in the Bridal Party

After you've set your budget and chatted with the bride, have a talk with the rest of the bridal party about how much money they will have to spend on the wedding adventure. Give them a heads up so they can plan ahead and start saving ASAP if they need to.

4. Divide and Conquer

Expenses will start to explode when and if you're the only one getting your fingers dirty in the pre-wedding planning. Include the entire bridal party and delegate tasks to them. If those tasks cost money, chat with all the bridesmaids to see what they are willing to contribute.

5. Buy in Bulk

You'll start to see that you'll need a lot of the same items for the bachelorette party and the bridal shower. Instead of buying things one at a time, buy in bulk to save some cash.

6. Borrow What Has Been Used

Skip out on buying décor or bachelorette party items by seeing what you can borrow from past MOH friends or bridesmaids. You can even check out websites that sell used wedding items and see if you can score any good deals on there.

7. Get Down and Dirty With DIY

Pull out your hot glue gun and your bedazzling kit from middle school. Jumping on the DIY bandwagon will often save you a ton of money. Don't buy what you can make at home, in a few hours, with a bottle of wine by your side.

8. Plan Ahead—and Book Travel ASAP

Scope out any travel plans (for bachelorette, the wedding, or otherwise) early—you'll have a better chance to find a cheap flight and a good hotel discount before last-minute price hikes kick in.

9. Ask for Tips

Call up past bridesmaids and MOHs and ask for any and all tips they can send your way. Ask them to give you some money mistakes they found themselves making, so you can avoid making the same ones along the way.

10. Combine Celebrations

If you're the head honcho in charge of planning both the bridal shower and the bachelorette party, consider combining the two celebrations to be at the same location or even the same day—you'll save money on travel, and you might even be able to score a discount with the venue for booking two events in their space.

11. Consider the Holidays

Try to skip planning the bachelorette party or bridal shower on holiday weekends. While it may seem super convenient, prices for flights, accommodations, and even venues skyrocket during those calendar dates.

12. Go Easy on the Gifts

You might have the urge to pick out a large gift for your BFF to mark every single pre-wedding milestone, like the engagement party, bridal shower, and bachelorette party. But remember, you're spending a lot of cash putting all of those events together so it's perfectly acceptable to skip some of the gifts.

13. Pick Your Bridesmaid Dress Carefully

Not only can the bridesmaid dress be expensive, but alterations can add up as well. So when ordering your dress, whether it be online or in the store, make sure your measurements are precise so that your tailoring can hopefully be minimal. If the dress is a bit too long or loose around your bust or waist when you get the gown in your hands, try wearing higher shoes or a different bra to fix the issues. But if alterations are unavoidable, ask your tailor what the options are with altering the gown so that you can save the most money.

14. Learn to Say No

If there's something along the way that you can't afford or don't have the time to handle, it's okay to say no. Remember to stick to your budget and your gut when agreeing to things.

15. Push Away Small Details

While it's tempting to start going overboard with all the personalized details and decorations, limit yourself before you spiral out of control. Everything adds up and often, the small stuff is what breaks your budget the most.

16. Team up With the Groomsmen

Split the cost between the bridesmaids and the groomsmen when it comes to planning any joint activities like a post-rehearsal dinner party or a wedding after-party.

17. Channel Old Souvenirs

When planning out decorations for the bridal shower or the bachelorette party, get creative and think outside the box by using old souvenirs from the bride's past. Whether they are her old trophies or scrapbooks, make these events more intimate by digging into some of her old-school favorite things.

18. Clip the Coupons

It may sound old fashioned, but being on the lookout for discounts, coupons, and sales from the start is a serious money saver. Set alerts on websites where you find decorations or items that you are looking to order.

19. Stay Close to Home

If you and the bridal party are working with a tight budget, try to plan the bachelorette party and bridal shower close to home. That way, you can cut out travel and accommodation costs and save everyone a lot of money.

20. Ask the Bride to Pay

It's not a faux pas to ask the bride to chip in here and there, like in covering her travel costs for the bachelorette party. Plan out what the bridal party can cover and what the bride should handle herself.

21. Don't Go Over the Top

Don't spend so much time browsing Instagram and Pinterest that you come up with a ton of totally over-the-top ideas. In the end, bigger isn't better. Better is doing something that brings everyone together and oftentimes, that's just something simple.

22. Skip the Stripper

A stripper may be the first thing on your bachelorette party list, but you will find yourself spending a whole lot of money on something that the bride might not even be into in the first place. So unless the bride really wants one, consider skipping the adult entertainment.

23. Start Saving Up

Right when the bride asks you to be her trusty MOH, you should start putting aside money on a weekly basis. That way, you won't be slammed with finding ways to pay for things along the way.

24. Capitalize on What's Free

Look up local free classes and events and try to tie them into the bride's weekend bachelorette party or even bridal shower day. That way, you can jump into something fun and free that's already taking place in the neighborhood.

25. Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin

If you're having to plan two big separate events for both the bridal shower and bachelorette party, try to space out the timing. That way, you have time in between to save money and assess how much cash you have left in your budget.

Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates.

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