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 was one of 10 for a wedding in Florida — and ended up spending more than $1,400.

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Freelance writer
Age: 28
Location: New York, NY
Annual Salary: About $140K/year (varies because it’s freelance)
How do you know the bride? Childhood friend I've known since the seventh grade.


Which events did you buy gifts for? "I gave the couple one gift throughout the entire engagement and wedding process, because I was contributing a lot to the wedding celebrations." How much did you spend on gifts in total? "I spent $100." Did you give cash or buy from a registry? "It was cash, but it was for their honeymoon."
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Bridesmaid Dress

How much were the dress and shoes? "The dress was $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 like?
"It was fine, I guess. 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.' I [would have been] 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 someday…' But I won’t."

The Bachelorette Party

Where was the bachelorette? "New York, thank goodness." How much did you spend?
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 to $700, at least."
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Bridal Shower

Did you plan the bridal shower? "I didn’t host, but being one of the local bridesmaids, I contributed and organized a lot (a.k.a. paid for a lot of it). It was during the bachelorette [weekend]."

How much did the bridal shower cost?
Food: $102.92
Flowers: $74.86
Decorations: $39.24

Wedding-Day Costs & Details

Wedding location:
"Florida. It was a destination wedding. I absolutely had to be there Friday through Sunday, but we were strongly encouraged to come as early as Wednesday." Airfare: $411.58 Hotels: "The bride’s family very generously rented the bridesmaids and the groomsmen big houses on Airbnb, so lodging was paid for." Hair and makeup: "They also kindly covered hair and makeup." Did you have any other expenses for the wedding? "I think they’re all covered below. (cracks knuckles)"

What Was The Craziest Part Of Being A Bridesmaid?

"When there are 10 bridesmaids involved, opinions are bound to fly and personalities will clash. I have a ton of stories, but the craziest was about lodging at the wedding. I mentioned above that the bride’s family paid for the entire wedding party — and their dates — to stay in beautiful Airbnb houses. "It was incredibly generous, and you would think that most people would be falling all over themselves with gratitude. But there was an email chain with people arguing over room assignments months before the wedding. 'My boyfriend is a light sleeper, so we need X room,' or 'I need to study that weekend, so WE need X room.' Just say thank you and suck it up for a night!"

Was It Worth The $$?

What was the worst part of being a bridesmaid? "The bride constantly repeated that she didn’t want any of us to stress, just to 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 when you can. And finally, the cost sneaks up on you — $50 here, $100 there — and eventually you find yourself spending over $1K. 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 cliché, but it’s true. I couldn’t imagine not being part of it, and as expensive as it was, it was a beautiful celebration of their deep love for one another." Would you/did you include the bride in your own wedding? "I plan to one day, yes. It felt very special being part of the bride’s crew, 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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