Here's How Much It Actually Costs To Be A Bridesmaid

Ready or not, wedding season is here.
If you've been feeling like you're receiving a steady stream of wedding invitations, or aren't quite sure when (or why) your closet got slowly filled up with bridesmaid dresses, then you're not alone.
While being a bridesmaid is an honor, it isn't cheap. It's no secret that being a bridesmaid in a wedding can have a ton of expenses involved — from purchasing a dress, shoes, and accessories to necessary travel and accommodation — and it tends to be a fraught topic for many women.
According to Credit Karma, nearly 20% of millennials have spent $1,000 on someone else's wedding, and while these statistics are staggering, the expenses involved with being a bridesmaid or a groomsman are even higher.
Most of us have heard of 'bridezillas' in the past, and horror stories of women being asked to subsidize the bride's frivolous expenses. And while these types of outlandish experiences are usually not the norm, a recent Wedding Wire study did find that the average bridesmaid will dish out around $1,200 per each wedding she is a part of.
Of course, every wedding is different, and so is every bride. Living expenses and wedding events fluctuate, so it can be hard to get a good idea of what brides require their bridesmaids to spend to be a part of their big day. So, we asked 15 millennial women to get real on how much they've spent to be a part of the bridal party for their friend's weddings to paint a more vivid picture of what it costs to be a bridesmaid today.
Age: 28
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Dress cost: $69.90
Total spent: $500
Whose wedding was it? "My college roommate's."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"Honestly, okay...my bride was a trouper and the opposite of bridezilla. Cheap, re-wearable dresses from LuLu's, no required shoes because the dresses were long, a local(ish) bachelorette party. And the bride covered hair/make up on the day of, plus lodging at and travel to bachelorette party.
The biggest costs were the wedding gift, shower gift, and bachelorette/loungerie gift. Oh, and the Uber home from the wedding was almost $50. I've done this three times and absolutely love it. Supporting the bride/my besties and getting to know their other friends/extended family/future family has been so much fun."
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DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 27
Location: San Francisco, CA
Dress cost: $300
Total spent: $1,400
Whose wedding was it? "My best friend's!"
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"It’s a lot when you look back at it. The bachelorette party plus the wedding plus the costs to get everywhere...it all adds up! But I would spend anything to celebrate my best friend (even if my bank account is crying because of it). I actually was the maid of honor for this wedding and I loved being part of it. I think weddings overall are such a waste of money, but I support celebrating people in love! Being a bridesmaid is a true compliment and testament to your friendship with your friend."
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Age: 24
Location: Mississippi
Dress cost: $200
Total spent: $1,000
Whose wedding was it? "My best friend's."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"Excessive! We also went to the beach for her bachelorette, so the cost to get there along with the cost of the rental condo added up. There were some options to cut down on the cost, but I wasn’t the one planning it so there wasn’t much I could do. Then of course, the wedding weekend. I even skipped getting my hair and makeup done to cut down on the cost, as the bride's family wasn’t paying for it. There’s nothing I love more than supporting my best friends, but being a bridesmaid can be a burden and I think it often gets overlooked when the bride's family is planning the wedding. I’ve also had wonderful experiences being a bridesmaid where the expense was low and required things were paid for by the bride's family, which is a huge help!"
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DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 23
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Dress cost: $250
Total spent: $1,150
Whose wedding was it? "My childhood best friend."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"I justified the expenses to myself because I love my friend and I wanted to celebrate with her and make it special for her. But it was definitely more than I would have spent on these things in any other circumstance. Breakdown of expenses: I sent flowers when she announced her engagement (because I couldn't travel for the engagement party). I bought a plane ticket to travel for her bridal shower/bachelorette party ($250) and also contributed ~$150 for those celebrations along with a gift (~$100). Plus a wedding gift (~$100-200) and travel back from the wedding ($300). As I spent, I didn't think much about the prices — they felt within reason. But when I sit down and calculate it all together, it's definitely shocking.
"Being a bridesmaid is super exciting for me since this is my first friend to get married. I was touched to be included but it's also a a big ask. There's an interesting dynamic — it's like the bride is granting you the privilege of joining her bridal party but at the same time you're paying to be included."
DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 25
Location: Nashville, TN
Dress cost: $180 (150 for the dress plus 30 for hemming)
Total spent: $1,500
Whose wedding was it? "My college roommate and sorority sister."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
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"It was kind of a lot for something I wasn't that excited about, but I did try to save where I could, bought cheap flights, and had another bridesmaid pick me up at the airport. I also shared a hotel room with another bridesmaid instead of getting my own. I would be a bridesmaid again, but I'd be more selective about it. I'm not that close to this friend and instead of spending so much on her wedding and bachelorette party, I could have taken a trip or put it into savings."
DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 26
Location: Miami, FL
Dress cost: $67
Total spent: $1,087
Whose wedding was it? "My college friend."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"It's about what I expected to pay for the whole wedding. Her choosing an inexpensive dress saved the day. I had a great time! It was nice becoming friends with her other group of friends. I wouldn't have traded it for the world."
DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 23
Location: Austin, TX
Dress cost: $75
Total spent: $700
Whose wedding was it? "My friend from high school."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"Since we had just graduated college it was a little difficult, since I didn't have any savings built up. But she knew that, and tried to help us out by offering to pay for anything we couldn't. Her mom paid for the hotel we stayed in at the bachelorette party, and her siblings drove us around the weekend of the wedding when we needed rides so we didn't have to Uber. I think all the costs were worth it to be part of her day —we still talk about it all the time, and I know she was really grateful that we all could be there."
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DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 26
Location: Halifax, Canada
Dress cost: $130
Total spent: $1,850
Whose wedding was it? "My brother's."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"Most of what I spent was on the bachelorette trip. I feel great about it — I had a chance to spend time with my future sister-in-law and get to know the other bridesmaids before the wedding. The idea that you get to be there for the little moments of one of the biggest days of someone you love's life? The best."
DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 28
Location: Washington, D.C.
Dress cost: $170
Total spent: $1,500
Whose wedding was it? "My best friend from college."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"It was a lot of money — but she is my best friend. In hindsight, I'm glad I participated in the bachelorette party and the wedding, but there was a lot of stress surrounding both events. For the bachelorette party in particular, I didn't have a lot of input in terms of where our money was going, so that was difficult. For the wedding, there were ways to cut costs, but I didn't want to be the only bridesmaid to go without. I would only do it again for my sister or my closet friend — it's not worth it otherwise."
DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 30
Location: Bethesda, MD
Dress cost: $300
Total spent: $2,300
Whose wedding was it? "My friend's."
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How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"I have been a bridesmaid four times now. I do really enjoy being one, and I always have a blast, even as the perpetually single friend. But the total costs for weddings as a bridesmaid become excessive, even when it's all fun things.
"The total cost for this wedding includes the 4-night bachelorette party, which included flights, lodging, bachelorette party 'accessories,' and a $250 all-inclusive party at a bar. Other costs included the flight to both the engagement party and wedding, wedding day hair and makeup, a wedding gift, and the dress and alterations. I hate being required to buy a $300 dress that I will only wear once. When I get married, I think I will give my friends an easy color and let them get anything they want."
DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 28
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Dress cost: $210
Total spent: $900
Whose wedding was it? "My high school friend's."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"I thought the cost was high. I would have been more comfortable contributing this amount if the wedding was out of town, or if the bachelorette was a trip instead of a concert. I would have also felt better about this if the maid of honor was more open to bridesmaids' ideas as opposed to just expecting us to pay for what she had decided upon.
"I enjoy being asked to be a part of a friend's special day, but after doing it many times, I've concluded that I don't want to do it anymore. Looking back, I've spent thousands of dollars. These experiences have shown me that while I obviously want bridesmaids when I get married, I'll definitely be mindful of how much I am asking them to spend. "
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DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 26
Location: Boulder, CO
Dress cost: $200
Total spent: $350
Whose wedding was it? "A close friend's."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"I had prepared myself going into this process to spend money — it's a wedding — but I also set limits on where I would spend my money. I really lucked out, because the bride was already trying to keep costs down with her own wedding, so everyone was on the same page. Overall, I felt fine with what I spent except for the dress.
"The way I see it is that this is a close friend I'd want at my wedding, and someone I know would spend the same amount to attend mine. The real expense of being a bridesmaid is the time commitment. There is always a way to save money, but no matter the wedding size, there is a huge time commitment."
DashDividers_1_500x100
Age: 33
Location: Sacramento, CA
Dress cost: $125
Total spent: $1,180
Whose wedding was it? "My college roommate's."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"This is too much now that I have it all written up and added. This is for flights to the wedding, lodging, the dress, and the present. Considering I have to stand up there and smile while my friend marries some guy who I don't like, I don't feel great. Hoping this is the last time!"
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Age: 24
Location: Dallas, TX
Dress cost: $160
Total spent: $310
Whose wedding was it? "My friend's."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"It felt like a lot at the time, but I know I am also lucky because she had a local bachelorette party, and it was not overnight. The bride also does not drink, so the bachelorette party just consisted of hanging out at a pool, so not much cost involved there. I am in another wedding coming up that will be much more expensive, so looking back, I feel pretty good about this one.
"I love being a bridesmaid! It is a fun way to support a friend getting married and meet other girls. I became good friends with one of the girls that I did not really know before. This particular bride was very low maintenance, which made things easy for us. But if I was a bridesmaid for a more high maintenance bride, I don't think I would like it as much."
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Age: 29
Location: New York, NY
Dress cost: $400
Total spent: $2,000
Whose wedding was it? "My friend's."
How do you feel about what you spent and about being a bridesmaid in general?
"It felt ridiculous. Although I'm happy to be supportive, it amazes me that no one can get behind abandoning such an expensive tradition. I’m still supporting you even if I'm wearing an old dress and sitting in the pews."
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