NEW YORK (MainStreet)—For years I've heard people complain about attending wedding, about the costs of everything from gifts to hotel rooms, but this is the first time I've experienced it firsthand. My dear friend Kylie (named has been changed for this article) is getting married next year, and already, almost a year in advance, I can see the costs piling up.
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Making matters all the more inscrutable, Kylie is making a good faith effort to keep costs down for her bridesmaids—and yet I'm bracing myself for a $2,000 hit.
I'll share how the expenses are racking up, and some ways I'm planning to ease the burden. Here's a general estimate of costs on the horizon:
- Engagement party gift: $50
- Bridal shower gift: $50
- Wedding gift: $150-200 (I'm in a couple)
- Bridesmaid dress: $150-$250
- Pitching in for the bridal shower: $50-$200
- Two nights in a hotel for the rehearsal dinner and wedding: $350
- Transportation to and from the engagement party, shower and wedding: $150
- Trip somewhere tropical for the bachelorette party, including pitching in for the bride's share: $1,000
All told, attending my friend's wedding could easily cost me over $2,200, from start to finish.
Because I'm one of Kylie's friends, I don't feel like I could beg out of anything, such as declining to be in the bridal party or even declining to go on the bachelorette vacation. Admittedly, I'm not poor, and I can afford this, when push comes to shove. Psychologically, the bigger hurdle I'm grappling with is that this isn't how I would typically choose to spend $2,000. I love travel and can't help but think that this amount could get me to Bermuda twice over.
Nonetheless, Kylie is making a good-faith effort to keep costs down, and I absolutely love her. I want to be there for her big day (and all the semi-big celebrations leading up to it) and can afford to be. So I'm in.
But here are some of the ways I'm looking to mitigate the cost:
Budgeting in Advance
The wedding is ten months away, so I have sufficient time to save up. On average, I'll need to save about $200 a month, which sounds way less burdensome than a flat two grand. I ordinarily save more than $200 a month, anyway, so I can divert that amount from my regular savings. Phew.
Knowing When to Drop Out
This line is different for everyone. I'm lucky, because I don't have any other big weddings on the horizon, so I can afford to invest in Kylie's. If, however, I had ten weddings in a year (like some people I know!) or more limited income, I might have needed to decline being a bridesmaid or say 'no' to the bachelorette-weekend.
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So far I've been able to say 'yes' to most everything, except one: the bridal shower. When the matron of honor started sending out emails about planning a relatively elaborate shower while intimating how much I would pitch in to fund the event, I drew the line. About half the bridesmaids are five years out of college, and the other half are full-fledged adults with families and more established jobs. I'm part of the former group. As much as I wanted to help, I was starting to panic. I answered as politely as I could that I'd be more than glad to help with logistics wherever I could. The matron of honor accepted my note graciously, and I really appreciated her understanding.
DIYing the Smaller Gifts
I won't hand-make my wedding gift, but I'm planning to go the do-it-yourself route for the engagement party and bridal shower gifts. Yes, it saves money, but I'm also hoping my friend will appreciate the individual touch. For the engagement party, I might make my own limoncello, or perhaps infuse a nice olive oil since she likes to cook. For the bridal shower, I'm brainstorming ways to create crafts and keepsakes out of photos of me, Kylie and other good friends. She's the sort of person who loves scrapbooks and keepsakes, so I hope it'll be meaningful and she'll forgive me for making something sentimental rather than buying a salad bowl off the registry.
I've been talking about splitting certain expenses with one of the other bridesmaids. First, we'll rent a car to transport the four of us to and from all the various festivities (we both have significant others), since that will be cheaper than buying four separate train tickets and cab fare from each station. We're also talking about sharing a hotel room for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. Each couple would prefer to have a separate room, of course, but it's worth sharing a room with two queen beds if it means saving over a hundred dollars.
Wiggle Room on Bridesmaid Dress
Kylie hasn't officially chosen bridesmaid dresses yet, but I really appreciate the fact that she reached out to me to get my honest feedback on pricing. She's started looking through some options, mostly ranging from about $150 to $250, and wanted to know if I had a budget I was trying to stay within. I've been thinking about this more as a total amount rather than considering each line item separately, but I was glad that my voice was being heard and that I had the chance to express my desire to keep costs as low as possible.
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Making Travel Plans as Intelligently as Possible
The one big concession that Kylie has made on trying to keep costs down is that she'd like to take a trip somewhere warm, since her bachelorette party will probably be in the winter months and we live in the Northeast. To keep costs down, we're planning to decide where exactly we'll go based on airfare. We're also starting to look for tickets many months in advance, so we have time to monitor them and pounce when the price is right.
It'll be really fun to have a girls' weekend getaway. It'll cost more than I'd usually spend on just a few days, so to make the investment feel more worthwhile, I might actually extend the trip by going down early or staying later. I might, say, backpack around Puerto Rico for an extra five days or so by myself before meeting up with the rest of the group. My schedule is flexible, because I'm a freelancer, so if I can turn this short-term getaway into one of my bona fide vacations for the year. Then the costs may start to justify themselves.
--Written by Allison Kade for MainStreet