Bearing The Financial Burden of Being A Bridesmaid

May 19, 2011  |  

by Jamilah-Asali I. Lemieux

Weddings , which were once simply a special day in the life of a couple, have long since become the center of a multi-billion dollar industry catering to the whims of brides who want to feel like princesses, if only for a day.

As there has been an increased pop-culture fascination with wedding shows, magazines, Facebook shrines and websites, many brides are feeling the pressure to walk down the aisle ‘platinum’ style. Unfortunately, this often finds them passing the buck –sometimes literally- to their team of bridesmaids.

Being asked to serve as a bridesmaid should be a great honor; the bride wants you to play an integral role in what will be one of the most memorable days of her life. However, many friends and family members have found themselves managing the unreasonable demands of a soon-to-be wed woman who thinks that everyone should gladly give up a chunk of their time and money for her nuptials.

Sasha (last name has been withheld for anonymity), a digital producer from Texas, has been a bridesmaid four times; two brides were both reasonable and gracious with their requests, but the others weren’t so easy to work with. Her first bad experience came when her cousin’s fiancée cancelled the wedding two weeks prior to the nuptials and informed the bridal party via angry voicemails and texts.

Sasha had already invested almost $300 in a plane ticket, plus $150 for a “poorly made” bridesmaid dress. A few short days later, the wedding was back on (another announcement made via text). “I never received an explanation or acknowledgement of the previous cancellation or even a thank you note, after I dropped over $500 for her special day!” Sasha said. She has a bit of common sense advice for brides; make sure you acknowledge your bridal party for their efforts: “Thank you cards are a must! No exceptions.”

Destination weddings have become increasingly popular in recent years. However, couples must remain mindful of the great expense incurred by guests and wedding party members, who now have to include a plane ticket and possible lodging, in addition to the traditional expenses. Sasha recalls a cousin who stated that anyone who “cared” about her wedding would find a way to finance a trip to the Jamaican resort where she jumped the broom; “I guess only 15 people cared, because that’s all the folks who showed up!”

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  • Anon

    On the flipside, you can always opt out of being a bridesmaid. Especially if the bride is up front about the cost (dress, shoes, hair, makeup, hotel, etc.). There’s nothing wrong with saying, hey, I’m honestly not able to financially contribute right now, but I’d love to help out in another way (serving as a reader, organizing the bridal shower, etc.).

  • Naomi

    I was a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. After plane tickets, a dress that was actually very pretty, hotel, etc. I was out $600. They were separated 3 months later. Going through the divorce now. Wow.

  • soontobewed2011

    I really tried to be considerate with my choices so far as the bride. I opted for bridesmaids dresses that is in a cute color and that can be worn again. The wedding is is driving distance for all parties involved and I am only having 1 event that I would like everyone to attend. I know how it feels to have to pay so much money out of pocket for things you will never utilize again!

    • Lola

      I am glad that you are being considerate for your guests so EVERYONE could enjoy it!

  • aggravatedbridesmaid

    Oh I wish this article cam out sooner! I’m literally hopping a plane to go back to my home state to be a bridesmaid for a cousin durin the busiest time in my life. I just dropped over $600 that I really should not have spent on plane tickets, an ugly dress, and a wedding gift, as well as other accessories. Not only do I have to sacrifice the time off work, but time off classes, and a loss of over 1k in revenue for a party I was supposed to host over the weekend. I never see this family member and her husband is a moron with no job. She’s up to her eyeballs in debt from a masters program and does not have a particularly high-paying career. This whole wedding is such a strain on everyone’s time and money. Never again will I do the bridesmaid thing. Ever!