Bridesmaid Confessions: "I Spent $1,465 On Your Wedding"

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Welcome to Bridesmaid Confessions, where we tackle the hardest part of participating in someone else's wedding: the cost. We're asking real bridesmaids to spill the beans — anonymously, of course — on every wedding-related expense, from the engagement all the way to the big day. (Thanks, Money Diaries, for the inspiration.)

Today, a bridesmaid who saved big thanks to the bride's family — but still dropped $1,465 for the nuptials of a childhood friend.

Want to share your experience? Email us, here.
Job: Freelance writer
Age: 28
Location: New York, NY
Annual Salary: About $140K/year (varies, because I'm freelance)
Total Number Of Bridesmaids: 10
Relationship To Bride: Childhood friends
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Bridesmaid Dress

How much were the dress and shoes?
"Dress: $224.97 (even with the 10% off 'large bridal party' discount)
Tailoring: $80
Shoes: $58.65
Bra: $37.78"

What was your dress-shopping experience?
"It was kind of a waste of time, honestly. A courtesy to the bride that nobody really wanted to do, but we had to pretend to be excited about, because it’s her wedding and she makes the rules. Like, 'Let’s all get together, spend $60 on an obligatory group brunch, and go look at a dress that we have no say in buying.'

"If the dress is the dress, I’m fine just ordering it online. The bride tried to be nice and say, 'If you don’t feel comfortable in it, you can get it in a different style!' but it was kind of very clear that that wasn’t actually an option, just a nice lie."

Would you wear it again?
"No. It really isn’t THAT bad, but...no. And I feel a weird responsibility to keep it and keep lying to myself, Maybe some day, but I won’t."
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Wedding-Day Details & Costs

Wedding Location:
"It was this past spring in Florida. I absolutely had to be there Friday through Sunday, but we were strongly encouraged to come as early as Wednesday."

Costs For Lodging & Travel:
"Airfare was $411.58. The bride’s family very generously rented the bridesmaids and the groomsmen big houses on Airbnb, so lodging was paid for."

Costs For Hair & Makeup:
"They also kindly covered hair and makeup."

Did you have other expenses during the wedding weekend?
"I think they’re all covered." *cracks knuckles*

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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Bachelorette Party

Where was the bachelorette?
"New York [where I live], thank goodness."

Did you organize the bachelorette?
"No."

How much did you spend on the bachelorette?
"Various group dinners: $41.84, $60, $100
Activity: $60
Group T-shirt: $15
Cabs: $5 (contribution to group cab), $23.15, $12.53, $18.35 (I included cabs here, because I rarely take them, in an attempt to save money, but I took FOUR in the span of three days — incredibly rare for me).

"Thank goodness I didn’t have to pay travel or lodging for this. That would have easily been another $600-700, at least."
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Gifts

How much did you spend on gifts?
"I gave the couple one gift throughout the entire engagement/wedding process, because I was contributing a lot to the wedding celebrations. It was $100 in cash, but it was for their honeymoon."

Were there any additional costs not covered in previous questions?
"Honestly, it feels like I’m leaving out some expenses. There are just so many little brunches here and dinners there that I normally wouldn’t have spent money on. Being a bridesmaid comes with a lot of occasions. Dress shopping! Dress fittings! Planning meetings! Maybe it’s amplified in a city like New York, but all of these occasions inevitably include a meal and/or drinks.

"I joined in these days when I could, because it meant a lot to the bride, but I limited how much I spent during them. I’m not a big 'let’s go out for a big group brunch and split the bill' kind of person, so I tried to eat before these kinds of events or not order drinks.

"Even during the bachelorette weekend, I skipped almost an entire day of activities (spa day, group workout class) and met up with the group again that night, because I just didn’t want to spend the money. I wanted to be part of it, but since I was spending so much on the wedding anyway, it was important to me to limit my spending where I could."
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Was It Worth The $$?

What was the craziest part of being a bridesmaid?
"The bride constantly repeated that she didn’t want any of us to stress, just have fun. And somehow, it made things 10 times more stressful. She was very non-confrontational about things that involved money. I wish she would have just recognized that we agreed to be bridesmaids and that we understood we had to spend money. The other difficult thing is that it can be really hard to say no to things.

"People on the outside looking in love to give the advice, 'Just say no!' but it’s just not that easy. You have to find the smart ways to say no here and there where you can. And finally, the cost sneaks up on you. $50 here. $100 there. Eventually, you find yourself spending over $1,000. As a bridesmaid, you start to fear unexpected phone alerts, because it might be someone requesting money for something on Venmo."

What was the best part?
"Being part of her big day! It sounds so incredibly cliche, but it’s true. I couldn’t imagine not being part of it, and for as expensive as it was, it was a beautiful celebration of their deep love for one another."

Do you think being a bridesmaid is worth it?
"It felt very special being part of the bride’s crew on the day-of, but honestly, there wasn’t much special about being one of 10. A lot of our friends who weren’t in the wedding got basically the same experience as I did, without having to pay for things like bride tanks."

Would you do it again?
"Yes. This was my first experience being a bridesmaid and I would do it again for this friend in a heartbeat. But it was a good lesson in the importance of being selective. The next time I’m asked to be a bridesmaid, I’m going to roughly estimate how much the entire thing will cost and go from there."
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