If you’ve ever been a bridesmaid, then you know what an honour it is to be asked, but you’ll also be able to empathise with the time, effort and money that goes into being a part of someone’s big day.
On top of planning and paying for the bachelorette party and bridal shower, bridesmaids also have to fork out money to pay for their dresses, shoes, accessories, transportation, accommodation and gifts. All of that, on top of helping the bride out with wedding planning duties.
Basically, you’re paying to work a short-term job that’s not nearly as easy as Katherine Heigl makes it seem in 27 Dresses.
It’s all well and good if you can afford the time and money, but what if you’re a budget-conscious bridesmaid?
If you’ve estimated the cost of the wedding you’re attending and just don’t think you can make it work, it’s important to broach the topic with the bride early in the planning stages. Gemma T, a 29-year-old manager in the tech industry, made the mistake of only bringing this up four months after she was asked.
Gemma lives in Singapore, while the bride and the rest of the bridal party are based in Germany, so travel and accommodation would have added up. On top of that, the bridesmaid dresses they were required to buy were $300—not including the cost of shoes, accessories or alterations—all of which the bridesmaids needed to pay for.
On how she brought it up with the bride, Gemma says, “We hadn’t spoken for a few months and I felt awkward about it, so I sent her a long text explaining why I felt honoured to have been asked, but wanted to bow out of the duty.”
“I told her that I felt like I wasn’t part of the planning process or part of the wedding at all, and didn’t want to put in the time and money.” What ensued next was a passive-aggressive text argument where the bride tried to convince Gemma to retain her title, while Gemma continued to decline.
“Towards the end, I tried to soften the blow by adding that I was still happy to attend the wedding if she wanted me there, but she replied with ‘dw lol’ and I haven’t spoken to her or the rest of the bridal party since.”
“It really is a commitment and I would have had to cut back my spending on other things to be able to afford the dress and to attend all the events.”
She still plans on attending the year-end wedding in Germany.
So how can the bride and bridesmaid reach a compromise?
We asked the experts at Chère: Weddings & Events, and in their experience, brides usually pay for the bridesmaid attire. But that said, every wedding party handles things a little differently. Here are some of their suggestions on how to go about any awkward situations brought about by finances (or the lack thereof)
If you’re the bride…
If your bridesmaids are budget conscious but you have a little more money to spare, you can help to bring down the cost by pitching in your share for parties, subsidising accessories, or paying for their outfits.
If you’re the bridesmaid…
Yes, we know you want to be there for your BFF, and while your mind is willing, your wallet is weak. If that’s the case, try to work out a compromise i.e: helping out more with errands, or tasks that are more time-consuming.
Emotions can run high with a wedding to plan, and it’s not uncommon to hear of friendships dissolving because of wedding-related drama, or a bridezilla moment. Whether you’re the bridesmaid or the bride, it helps to remember that this is supposed to be a joyous celebration, and sometimes flexibility is required from both parties to make things work.
Text: Claire Soong