Bridesmaid Confession: I Have $250K In Student Loans, So You're NOT Getting A Gift

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 forced to spend tons of money on an EDM festival, for better or worse.

Want to share your experience? Email us here.

Job: Attorney
Age: 30
Location: New York, NY
Annual salary: $50,000
Total number of bridesmaids: 6
How do you know the bride? "We've been close friends since meeting in college. We lived together and made fabulous roommates. After I moved to NY, we stayed close. We've known each other for 10 years."
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

The Bridesmaid Dress

How much were the dress and shoes? "The dress was $180. The shoes just had to be nude shoes and I found a pair at DSW for $20."

What was your dress-shopping experience?
"The local bridesmaids and the bride picked out the dress. The Matron of Honor, myself, and another bridesmaid were not able to be there and did not get a say. The bridesmaids who were present also got to pick their colors first (every maid wore the same dress in a different color).

I ended up just trying on the dress at David's Bridal and ordering it the same day. Super easy."

Would you wear it again?
"God, no. Way too wedding-y. Also not the best fit: I ordered the dress in my bust size, but not my hip size. And I had to cut the slip on the day of the wedding."

Wedding-Day Details & Costs

Wedding location: "Fort Lauderdale. It was a destination for me! I was expected to be there on Friday for the rehearsal and Saturday for the wedding. And Sunday was a group beach day. Sunday plans were not created until later in the scheduling, after I had booked my flight home for Sunday at 6 a.m."

Costs for lodging and travel:
"I spent $220 on airfare, and lodging was free because I stayed at my mom’s house."

Costs for hair and makeup:
“The bride gifted hair services to us so we would all have pretty hairstyles. Initially, the bride asked for everyone to pick a braided updo from Pinterest, and the hairstylist would do that. But I was the only one who picked an easy, but beautiful style — so we all ended up having my hairstyle. We all did our own makeup, a variation on a smoky eye and a taupe-y pink lip."

Did you have other expenses during the wedding weekend?
"Bowling after the rehearsal. The bride and groom wanted to do something 'fun' so we all went bowling. That didn’t cost too much, maybe $20."
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

The Bachelorette Party

Where was the bachelorette? "Ugh. Vegas."

Did you organize the bachelorette? "My bride wasn't even engaged when she told me she wanted to go to Vegas for her bachelorette. The reason? There was an upcoming EDM festival that involved two EDM parties every day of a four-day weekend. I don't love EDM music, and I had never been to Vegas.

"The total cost was $400 for the weekend, which only included the hotel and wristbands for the parties. I politely told her I didn't think I could swing that, because I can only afford one big trip. I told her I can fly down for her dress fitting and bridal shower if I skip the Vegas bachelorette party.

"She insisted that she would rather I come to Vegas. It became a point of contention; she enlisted a few of our mutual friends to convince me to commit. When the down payment deadline came, my two roommates and I had all put the money down, and the groom had still not proposed.
"Eventually, I learned that of her six bridesmaids, only two of them were attending [the bachelorette]. The rest of the girls are friends of the bride — and one is a friend-of-a-friend whose first time meeting the bride will be in Vegas!

"Of course, the groom proposed five days before the deadline. We all sucked it up and paid the final amount and braced ourselves for a crazy weekend with a bride and some other girls who do drugs at EDM concerts — two things the rest of us aren't that into.
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"I was able to psych myself up about it, because I’d never been to Vegas. I vowed to my friends we would make the most out of it and have a great time. I ended up having a lot of fun once I managed my expectations and gave zero fucks. My friends and I are all size 8; the women who attend this EDM festival are size 2 and under. My bride is a size 2 — and her friends were even skinnier.

"The bride spent the entire weekend coasting on Cheetos and alcohol and probably cocaine, so when we all went out to the nice dinner I had planned, she got sick after eating the first real food in three days and spent the last night in the hotel room while the rest of us ended up at a high-roller’s bottle service table dancing until 3 a.m."

How much did you spend on the bachelorette?
"$1,500 (three meals a day for three days, $400 for the festival, $300 for airfare, $500 for hotel)."

The Bridal Shower

Where was the bridal shower? "New York.”

Did you organize or host the shower? "I did neither. The matron of honor did everything for the bridal shower. I provided moral support for her during her planning months."


How much did you spend on gifts? "$0. I don’t believe in gifts if a woman is in the wedding party AND she has to fly for the wedding. I also helped orchestrate the bachelorette party, even though she knows I have $250k in law school loans. I told her I couldn’t afford it, so when I 'asked' her if she minded that I wasn’t getting her any gifts, she completely understood."
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Was It Worth The $$?

What was the craziest part of being a bridesmaid? “Two months after the bachelorette party, I learned from the bride that she didn’t pay for her festival ticket at all. The reason she needed so many girls to commit to the trip was because she had signed up as an 'ambassador' for the festival and she used her sway to convince me and my friends to come and pay so that she could afford to go for free.

"Just remembering that kills me a little inside, because it had nothing to do with wanting to celebrate her upcoming nuptials with her best friends and everything to do with a free EDM concert weekend in Vegas. And she shamelessly used me and our mutual friends to make that happen. I love my bride. I love all my brides. But this one caused some real emotional problems in our friendship that I had to work through."

What was the best part?
"Standing up with one of your closest friends and watching her exchange vows with her husband. I also love giving a speech, whether in private or at the reception, because I get so emotional and overjoyed for my bride."

Do you think being a bridesmaid is worth it?
"I love being a bridesmaid because it feels like this is the moment our friendship has built up to. Weddings are incredibly stressful and I just want to be able to support my friends any way I can.

"That being said, I also know my boundaries (emotionally and financially), and it’s important for all bridesmaids to know that before agreeing to be a part of any bridal party. It’s also important for any brides who aren’t financially blessed to be realistic as to their maids’ potential budgets.

"My bride knew I was a maid in three other weddings the same year as her own. She gave allowances for her girls, because in the end, the important part of the traditions is that you are doing these things with your best friends. If your best friends can’t be there, but you want to do it anyway, don’t force your friends to spend money they don’t have."

Would you do it again?
"Being a bridesmaid is COMPLETELY worth it, and I will never say no to being there for one of my friends."

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