How Much Does It Cost to Be a Bridesmaid and How to Talk Money With the Bride

Learn about the average costs and how to navigate expenses with the bridal party.
shelby wax headshot
Shelby Wax
shelby wax headshot
Shelby Wax
The Knot Contributor
  • Shelby is a contributing writer for The Knot covering all things weddings.
  • Shelby is a freelance writer for publications including Vogue, Over the Moon and Allure. She previously served as Senior Editor at Brides and Editor at Lonny Magazine.
  • Shelby graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Scripps College.
Updated Jan 10, 2024

It's an absolutely incredible moment to find out one of your best friends is engaged to a wonderful person and wants you to be a member of their wedding party. But before you say "yes," you might be wondering, "How much does it cost to be a bridesmaid or bridesman?" While being in a wedding party is an incredible experience filled with joy and love, it also comes with a pretty big price tag.

"The cost of weddings seems to go up every year and that includes the cost incurred with being a bridesmaid," shares Amanda Connaughton, a Savvy Ladies Junior Board Member, Certified Financial Planner, volunteer on the Savvy Ladies Helpline, and recent bride. "Just like in marriage, many financial issues that occur can be solved or avoided with simple communication. Getting on the same page and understanding expectations makes sure that everyone knows what they are agreeing to and can lessen the stress." Ahead, we break down the costs of being a bridesmaid and how to effectively communication with all members of a bridal party to make sure everyone can stay on budget.

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Average Bridesmaid Cost

While the couple will cover some costs, bridesmaids or bridesmen should expect to pay for a certain amount of expenses if they say yes to joining a wedding party. First, they should attend the bridal shower and will be expected to bring a gift. In certain cases, the maid of honor and bridal party will plan the wedding shower and help cover the costs, however, it now is more often covered by family. Next comes the biggest expense—the bachelorette party. Costs of a bachelorette party can vary depending on the location, necessity of air travel, accommodations, and activities planned. While this celebration can only be one night, many bachelorettes are destination events that can last multiple days.

For the wedding itself, the bridal party is usually expected to cover the costs of travel and accommodations, which can vary drastically by the location of the event. Then, comes the attire. While many brides are leaning into the trend of having their wedding party choose their own look within a color palette, the cost of the outfit will be the bridesmaid or man's responsibility and can range entirely based on their selection. While the couple will cover the costs of the bridesmaid's bouquets, it isn't always guaranteed they will pay for their professional hair and makeup, too..

How to Discuss Bridesmaid Expenses With Your To-Be-Wed

Since becoming a wedding party member comes with financial obligations, you must be certain that you will be able to fulfill those expectations and communicate with the bride before saying yes to the honor. "While it is important for brides to be cognizant of their bridesmaids' financial circumstances, they aren't going to be mind readers," advises Connaughton. "Many problems can be avoided by just having open, honest, communication early and often."

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"Of course, you want to be by the bride's side on their big day — given that they have asked you to be in the wedding party, you probably have a special relationship," says Connaughton. "But, if you truly cannot afford to be a bridesmaid without it being a detriment to your financial situation, think about if you are really doing the best thing. We have all heard the horror stories of bridesmaids backing out weeks before the wedding, often because of finances. While it might sting at first, you are putting the bride and her special day first by being honest about this at the beginning."

If more expenses appear along the way, like an expensive dinner or activity at the bachelorette, the financial expert recommends accounting for that ahead of time in your budget. "As a bridesmaid, be sure to leave wiggle room in your budget," she says. "There will undoubtedly be a pop-up expense or something that costs more than expected. If you have already built in a buffer for yourself, these won't feel like such a financial emergency when they arise."

Not only should you communicate with the bride, but you should also be open with the other wedding party members about what is feasible for all of your budgets. It's likely certain activities might be too expensive for multiple members of your group, so open dialogue is key when organizing plans. "Just as all bridesmaids should have a helping hand in the pre-wedding festivities, they should have a say in the budget for the events involved," notes Connaughton. "Often the wedding party doesn't want to involve the bride in the budget of these things and that can be fine if everyone expected to contribute is actually on board."

How to Discuss Expenses With Your Bridesmaids

On the reverse, the bride should be communicative, understanding, and flexible with their wedding party. "A bride should do their best to be realistic and understanding of their bridesmaids and their different financial needs," says Connaughton. "Once you have selected your bridesmaids, have a sit-down talk with each person about what you expect from the members of your wedding party. Will they be contributing toward the bachelorette trip? Pay for their own dresses? Cover hair and makeup? Some people have never been in a wedding before and have no idea what these things can add up to. Give them time to make a decision and be respectful of what they choose."

Connaughton also advises considering making adjustments if your pricey plans might leave out some of your closest circle "What is more important? Splurging on an expensive bachelorette trip or making sure your favorite people can be in attendance? If additional expenses pop up (and we know they always do), try to discuss these with your bridesmaids before making anything official," she advises. "No one wants to get surprised with a big expense and feel backed into a corner. If it isn't necessary for everyone to be a part of this event, consider giving some bridesmaids an out or alternative way of being involved."

If possible, you may be able to provide financial help to a bridesmaid that is struggling to keep up if she is a younger family member or recently lost a job. "Offer alternatives," suggests Connaughton. "Just because someone is not able to contribute monetarily doesn't mean that they can't make their contribution known in another way. Working on the bridal shower? Maybe they can help home cook some of the food. Renting a place for a bachelorette party? Maybe offer a lower share portion to whoever stays in the smallest room."

"Also, remember, if the wedding party is too big of a financial commitment, you can still include loved ones in other ways—have them do a reading, a prayer or message before dinner, or create your own special way to involve them," she recommends. "I asked someone to do a reading for my wedding in 2022 and used others' wedding songs in our intro music."

Does It Cost More to Be the Maid of Honor?

While being a maid of honor might not usually cost more than it does to be a bridesmaid, it does come with a much greater time commitment. The maid of honor volunteers to perform the labor of planning the pre-wedding events and leading communication with the wedding party. If you are a bride with a maid of honor, make sure to recognize all the additional hard work this bridal party member put in to create an incredible experience for you and your closest circle.

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