Brides-To-Be Blissfully Ignore The Enormous Financial Burden They Put On Their Bridesmaids

131266330Being a bridesmaid is the worst. There, I said it. There has to be a way to make this experience more enjoyable – because it’s become such a financial burden it’s almost too stressful to enjoy.

Hey! You are one of my closest friends! So I’m going to make you spend $200 to $400 on a dress you will never wear again, incur crazy travel expenses, throw several parties for me and also buy me gifts. Because I love you that much.

Does this make sense?

I guess it kind of makes some sense if you look at the folklore surrounding the wedding party:

…the Western bridesmaid tradition seems to have originated from later Roman law, which required ten witnesses at a wedding in order to outsmart evil spirits believed to attend marriage ceremonies. The bridesmaids and ushers dressed in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits wouldn’t know who was getting married. Even as late as 19th century England, the belief that ill-wishers could administer curses and taint the wedding still existed. In Victorian wedding photographs, for example, it can take quite a bit of inspection to pick out the bride and groom from among the other members of the bridal party!

It was the job of the bridal party to possibly intercept curses meant for the bride and groom. How is that fair? Apparently, the wedding party has always been screwed.

Weddings are really fun and wonderful and it’s great watching friends that are in love take that step. I just don’t understand when or why it became the responsibility of the bridal party to cover the costs of something that is required for their participation. Or when it became acceptable for those tying the knot to blissfully ignore the enormous financial burden they are dumping into the laps of their “closest friends”: estimated in 2011 that the average total cost of being a bridesmaid is a whopping $1,695—encompassing the dress ($150); travel to the wedding, shower, and bachelorette parties ($300 each); various gifts ($200); and all the odds and ends that accumulate along the way. If you have half a dozen pals who count you as one of their closest, those costs can be paralyzing—especially if they’re clumped into one or two seasons.

Everyone knows weddings are crazy expensive, and it’s hard enough for couples to shoulder the financial burden of everything they entail without throwing in the added expense of paying for the outfits of the wedding party. But really, I think it should become the tradition. It’s so myopic to make ceremonial choices you can’t afford and then throw the burden on your friends to make your aesthetic dreams come true. Why is this even considered remotely okay?

I think if you want an extravagant wedding complete with extravagant matching outfits for your bridal party, you should should pay for it. It just makes sense.

(photo: Getty Images)

Be Sociable, Share!
You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
Be Sociable, Share!
  • TheGiantPeach

    I guess this is one of the few advantages of living in one of the poorest areas of the country. I don’t know many people who spent $1,695 on the entire wedding, much less being an attendant at one.

  • Larkin

    This is why I let me bridesmaids pick their own dresses. I said, “Just wear a purple dress! If you want to buy a $10 dress on sale at Target, awesome! If you want to spend $250 on a designer cocktail dress, awesome! If you already HAVE a purple dress and don’t have to spend anything, awesome!” Everybody spent what they were comfortable spending, (some people spent $20, others spent $200), so I think it worked out pretty well. And professional hair/makeup was optional. Some girls did it, some did their own, depending on what they wanted/could afford to do.

    • Guest

      The only problem I have with stuff like this is..go the cheap route…and look like crap next to people with fancy dresses who just had professional hair and makeup done! Better than most though :-P

  • Guest

    This is why I hate wedding parties. So glad I eloped. I had one friend who offered to buy me a dress (a simple black one that I could wear again) and pay for me to fly to Vegas to be her Maid of Honor which I was ok with. I had another friend who I had to buy my own ugly teal silk dress for and hair/makeup (I did myself) and some stripper shoes. I hate strapless and everyone had to go strapless. Her gifts to us were teal jewelry to match the dress which I would never again wear. Friend or not, that was rough.


    I asked a friend I’d had since childhood to be a bridesmaid, and first she said yes and that she was honored. Then, she later told me she couldn’t afford to be a bridesmaid so she was dropping out (she emailed me to tell me this.) And about a week after my wedding, she went to a destination wedding in Mexico. That cost about $3000. Nice!

  • LeeLee

    My wedding was a destination wedding in Bermuda. Since we couldn’t afford to pay for all of our guests (although we did pay for 2 family members who were must haves that couldn’t have afforded the trip), we didn’t expect those who paid to attend do much else. We bought the dresses and had suits custom made for the guys. I bought jewelry for the girls and told them they could do their hair/makeup/shoes however they wanted. Most did not buy us gifts. No shower was thrown.

    My thoughts are that if you truly care about your wedding party, their presence is more important than the fluff.

  • practicallyperfectineveryway

    If it weren’t for it being the custom for American bridesmaids to pay for the dress, we wouldn’t have the drama of Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids. If we didn’t have the bride and groom pay for it in the British Isles, there would be fewer spectacular arguments between the groom and bridesmaids on Don’t Tell the Bride. Everything happens for a reason.

  • gammachris

    When my dear friend Kristin got married, I was asked to be a bridesmaid. There was no way I could afford the dress, so I declined. She told me that it was imperative that I was in the wedding, so she purchased my dress. All these years later, I am still touched by what she did.