Wedding Math: Bridal Party

Wedding Math: Bridal Party

More and more couples are saying “I Don’t” to a bridal party, and there are plenty of reasons to jump on the new trend.

Pressure and Expenses

Being a part of the bridal party puts formal pressure on attending all the wedding events, even if the person isn’t keen on attending the bridal shower or bachelor party.  The sense of obligation isn’t nearly as fun as a choice to participate.  I’m not a fan of forcing someone to participate when they aren’t interested, whether intentional or not.  If a bachelor wants a party in Vegas, the costs are far higher than a board game night at home, but the bridal party is obligated to go.  This is an especially difficult situation for a member of the bridal party who does not have much in the way of disposable income.  You can say it’s “their choice,” but your best friends would do whatever they could rather than let you down.

My unofficial bridesmaids… these amazing four women have been rocks, sounding boards, iron sharpening iron, for a combined total of 44 years.

Some costs would be incurred whether or not the guest was in the bridal party.  If a guest has to travel, there are flight or gas costs, room costs, etc. that will be incurred regardless.  Negotiating room blocks and discounts help.  However, if there aren’t formal responsibilities, there is a lot more flexibility in choosing the events they’d be attending, and your guests are able to be much more flexible with their travel arrangements.  One of my friends who would be part of the bridal party is flying in late Friday night, well past the rehearsal and dinner, so that she doesn’t have to take a vacation day.  Another is flying in on Thursday night so she can hang out and help bring everything out to the resort.

A bridesmaid dress to never be worn again averages around $200-$250 plus the potential for $75 in alterations, although the new trend of letting bridesmaids choose any dress within a certain color family can save a lot of money.  Shoes, another $50-$100.  Accessories, another $50 (although you could give those as a gift, adding to your expenses). Nails are another $50.  Getting hair and makeup done?  Another $75-$100, although a bride should pay if she’s requiring it.  Why am I asking my best friends to pay $500+ to stand at my wedding, when sitting is obviously more comfortable?  Well, I’m not.  Men don’t have it that much better.  A suit/tuxedo rental averages $250, although the current money saving trend is a suit of the same color and matching ties.

It’s an honor to stand up with a happy couple, and most members of any bridal party will tell you they had a great time and were grateful to be asked.  It’s also expensive if the happy couple aren’t mindful of the costs.  Just be thoughtful.


It takes a lot of time and effort to coordinate everyone’s schedules for all the events.  It adds an element of stress to make sure everyone is in the same place and knows exactly what to do and what’s going on.  If it’s not a priority, don’t bother.

Gifts, Gifts, and More Gifts

I bought the girls matching robes.

The bigger your bridal party, the more money you are likely to spend on gifts for them.  While that in and of itself is not a bad thing, it can be a lot when you have all sorts of other expenses at the exact same time.  Even though we don’t have a formal bridal party, I still purchased gifts (including a beach bag and dollar store sunglasses) for each of my friend who are coming, and I’m very excited to spend the weekend with them and with the rest of my guests.  Make sure you say thank you to the wonderful people willing to stand up with you as you start a new chapter in your lives, whether or not they are formally standing up with you.  It’s an honor and a privilege to be surrounded by people who love you.


More wedding math…

2 Replies to “Wedding Math: Bridal Party”

  1. I paid for my bridesmaids dresses (I picked the color and they picked the style from a bridal shop) and asked them to wear black shoes. I did not pay for their travel expenses, but I also didn’t have a bridal shower and my bachelorette party was very low key. Like you, I don’t see why people get so uptight about the whole thing.

    1. I think I’d have paid for the dresses as well, if I’d actually had a formal bridal party. I’d also have paid for hair and makeup if I had wanted them to get it done. Having more events, especially spaced out, just means more travel and expenses. Kudos for skipping the bridal shower! We also skipped since we don’t need a bunch of new stuff to start our “new life.”

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