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Tips to Stay Married to Your Budget as a Bridesmaid

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Being a bridesmaid is an honor – but it comes at a price. From wedding gifts, attire and accessories to bachelorette parties, travel and accommodations, it’s no surprise bridesmaids spend an average of $1,154 per wedding, according to a survey by The Knot. So, when your pal pops you the question, it’s understandable to contemplate your response before accepting the financial responsibility. Of course, you’re happy to take part in the day, but you’d be happier if you could cut not only the cake, but also some costs along the way.

Northwestern Mutual financial advisor, Desiree Mustafa, suggests how you can save on bridesmaid expenses – without sacrificing fun or your friendship.

Tie the knot with your budget


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Before accepting the bridesmaid role, take some time to calculate a budget. What are you able to spend? What do you anticipate you’ll spend? If the math doesn’t add up, you’ll have to figure out where you want to cut costs. Every wedding varies, but the bulk of your budget will likely go towards the pre-wedding parties and gift. According to the same Knot study, bachelorette attendees spend an average of $472 and bridesmaids average $177 per gift. A realistic talk with the bride could help you decide where to prioritize your money without feeling like you skipped out on the wrong event.

Say yes to the dress


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Once you say, “I do” to the bridal party, the bridesmaid dress is an unavoidable item – but it doesn’t have to break the bank. If the bride didn’t assign a specific dress, just a general color or style, there may be a way to cut costs. Before running to a department store for the latest fashion, first take a peek at your closet or a friend’s wardrobe thus eliminating the cost altogether. Or, shop for budget-friendly options at Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx. If you must buy, try to think beyond the wedding and find something you’ll wear in the future. If the event calls for a more formal look, consider renting from somewhere like Poshmark or Rent the Runway.

Skip the salon

Getting your hair, nails and makeup done at a salon can get pricey fast, and considering you typically get these services just before or on the big day, the cost can come after you’ve tapped out your budget. If the bride doesn’t require you to get your hair, nails and makeup done professionally, avoid these added expenses by going the DIY route.

FYI, DIY

Bridesmaids are normally expected to plan and pay for events like the bridal shower and bachelorette party. But all those party extras like sashes and decorations can get expensive. Instead, look to online platforms like Pinterest for DIY ideas, projects and tutorials that can help you throw an event that looks luxe at a lower price point.

Accessorize without exceeding your budget


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If the bride requires you to wear a certain color shoe or accessory – think nude pump or a strand of pearls – consider borrowing from a friend. Why spend money on something you’ll only wear once?

That Ninja blender costs how much?!

Peruse the couple’s registry right away so you have the first pick of something within your budget. You could also split the cost of a larger ticket item with a group. If you have a creative side or professional design skills, create an original artwork or offer to lend your skills in lieu of a present. For example, if you enjoy pottery, make the couple a bowl or matching mugs. They’ll appreciate a handmade gift, and it will shave some dollars off your spending total. Finally, keep in mind if the couple chose a destination wedding, especially one requiring international travel, you can forgo a gift altogether without making an etiquette faux pas. The bride and groom understand you are probably taking off work and shoveling out a chunk of change just to be there, so a gift is not a necessity.

Hotel block or bust!


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Hotels will often give deals to parties booking rooms of 10 or more at a time. Ask the rest of the wedding party if they want to room block and book early to get the best deals. If you’re willing to share accommodations, consider splitting a room with another member of the wedding party or look into lodging alternatives like Airbnb. You can split the cost with other wedding guests, while still getting your own room, and stock the kitchen with groceries to avoid eating out every meal.

Are we there yet?


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If you have an out-of-town wedding, leverage your travel miles and rewards to book your flight. Book at least 70 days in advance for the best deals on domestic flights. Consider flights at odd hours for cheaper rates, like taking a 6 a.m. flight in or 10 p.m. flight out. If you need to rent a car, ask other wedding party members or guests if they want to split the rental fee and gas money.

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