Easy Ways to Help Your Bridesmaids Save Money, Straight From a Financial Expert
Between paying for multiple outfits, gifts, outings and travel, it’s easy to see why bridesmaid duties can end up being as much of a financial burden as an honor. But being in your wedding party doesn’t need to push your bridesmaids' bank accounts over the edge—as long as you set reasonable expectations from the start and find ways accommodate varying budgets and backgrounds.
We chatted with Farnoosh Torabi, personal finance expert and Chase Slate Financial Education Ambassador for her take on how to help bridesmaids save money throughout the wedding process.
Set a positive tone.
“As the bride, one of your roles is to dictate the financial tenet or tone of the wedding party. It’s easy to guess whether or not it’s going to be an expensive wedding based on bride’s lifestyle, taste and all of that,” Torabi says. “It’s really important to take a step back and say, ‘How can I leverage my bridal party to help me and support me while keeping costs as affordable as possible?’”
Be flexible and keep an open dialogue.
If your wedding party is a mixed bag in terms of financial circumstances, be prepared to see some of your bridesmaids bow out of an event here or a gift there. “You might have someone who’s very wealthy, someone who’s a grad student with student loans and another just starting out in their career,” she says. “It’s not fair or friendly to expect all your friends to pay big bucks for your day. That doesn’t need to take away from how special your events are, but a good place to start is being willing to find more affordable ways to get things done.” Your group will appreciate how open you are to understanding their circumstances and being accommodating.
Use the wedding timeline to your advantage and start saving early.
If any of your bridesmaids are worried about costs adding up, remind her there's time before the ball really gets rolling. “For bridesmaids, use the couple’s wedding timeline to your advantage,” Torabi says. “The good news is the wedding isn’t tomorrow—it’s probably not even in four weeks. A lot of times couples will take their time between the proposal and the wedding day (average engagement is about 14 months)—that’s a long time to be able to save a little bit.”
Even if you have nothing saved up right now, start putting a little bit to the side, to the best of your ability, as a sort of “participatory wedding fund,” as Torabi calls it. (Torabi is a huge fan of the Chase Slate Card because it offers you a lot of breathing room to afford exciting life events.)
Your wedding party should leverage their power in numbers.
Unless you’re working with a tiny wedding party, your crew is probably a large handful of your favorites, which can work to their (and your) advantage. “There’s power in numbers,” Torabi says. “What I mean by that is whenever there’s group travel or an outing to a restaurant, event or concert, try to get a group discount.” If you can, do some extra digging and find restaurants that have unique and affordable offerings for bridal parties (or even just large groups in general), whether it’s an extra bottle of bubbly thrown in, a prix fixe menu or another extra something. Torabi loves going with a prix fixe option so there are no surprises when the bill comes—who wants that? Even better if you can identify a restaurant or bar where you know someone who works there.
Prioritize experience over the price tag.
“Lead with the experience and not so much the who-what-where of the scene," Torabi says. "Make it less about needing a fancy restaurant and more about finding the [atmosphere and bonding time] you want,” Torabi says. Skip the bottle service and pregame in someone's hotel room or appartment before hitting the clubs, for example.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t drop a larger sum if you're willing and able—just don’t put that burden on anyone else, since not everyone has the same concept of what’s affordable. “If you have money to spend and it’s really important to do something special, like go the extra mile—like treat everybody to a round of drinks or a bottle of nice champagne—for the bride, you totally should. But don’t make it a group expense without talking to everyone beforehand.”
When it comes to the dress, consider all of your options.
“Since the dress is usually one of the first items on the to-do list, it’s an opportunity for the bride to manage expectations from the start,” Torabi says. “If you can find ways to create a wedding party style that’s to your liking and taste, but isn’t super expensive, that’s a great first step. Your bridesmaids will know you’re keeping them in mind, not just picking the best, most expensive dress.”
You have several options for making the dress-finding process easy for your crew. Torabi suggests naming a certain color palette, then letting them pick something that suits their style and budget. If you want a more uniform look, take the time to find a retailer that works for everyone’s budget. You can also consider renting gowns or finding a dress that comes in various cuts and necklines.
For bridesmaids, get creative with your gifts.
Not everyone can afford to buy the couple a swanky stand mixer or luggage set off the registry. But Torabi says gifting a skill or expertise can be just as meaningful and often even more valuable.
“The example I like to give is if you have a friend who’s starting a blog, business or website, and you’re a lawyer, think of all the ways you can help. Maybe it’s free legal advice—help her file for her trademark or with her privacy disclaimer. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars you would have to pay an attorney," Torabi says. "Or if you’re a yoga instructor, gift her unlimited yoga at your studio for year.”
When in doubt, go in on gifts together with other wedding party members, and don’t forget to check out their registry early, before all the gifts in your price range get snatched up first.