Wedding Party Expenses

Hi Jeff,

One of my close friends recently got engaged and has asked me to be a part of her bridal party. While I’m honoured that she wants me to be a part of her special day, I am wondering how I can manage all the related wedding costs without going into debt?

Jessica L.
Toronto, Ontario

Hi Jessica,

Great timing on your question – after all, we are right in the middle of engagement season. It’s that wonderful time between Christmas and Valentine’s Day where couples everywhere say yes to the ring, and then throw financial caution to the wind when dreaming (and planning) their perfect day.

And while I am sure you are honoured to be included in your friend’s wedding plans, I can certainly understand your concern around the high cost of being a bridesmaid. Between the dress, shoes, hair, showers, bachelorette parties and of course the wedding gift – a close friend’s nuptials can leave your budget saying “I don’t”.

My first piece of advice for you Jessica is to have an honest conversation with your friend. I make this suggestion, because you may not know what your friend’s plans are yet. Some brides understand the high costs of putting on a wedding and go the extra mile to make sure their attendants are not forced to spend an arm and a leg. Discuss your budget with her, and make suggestions that will work for your budget and her plans.

If you have spoken to the bride, and know that you simply cannot afford to be in this wedding without racking up a pile of credit card debt, then be honest about it – I am sure she will understand. If she is a true friend, the last thing she will want is to see you get into financial trouble for her big day.

If being a part of this wedding is something you absolutely want to do, then it’s time to become a budgeting bridesmaid.

First, I want you to sit down and write a list of all your wedding related financial obligations, and then assign a dollar value to each item.

Next, I want you to take a closer look at this list and see if there are any expenses you can cut. Do you really need a new pair of shoes, or is there a pair in your closet that will work just fine? Can you do your own hair and make-up and avoid that added expense? How about wedding showers – do you need to be at each one thrown for the bride, or is attending one all that is necessary?

Once you have pared down this list to the absolute essentials, it’s time to take a close look at your budget to see if you have the financial room to afford this wedding. Look for small sacrifices you can make over the next few months that will allow you to be at the bride’s side without crossing over to the debt side?

If there are budget cuts to be made, make them and be merciless about sticking to your budget until the big day.

Finally, I would suggest getting together with the other people in the wedding party. You may not be the only one who is concerned about the high costs of your friend’s vows. Some of these tips may help you all manage the costs:

  • Split the costs of showers and bachelorette parties
  • Go in together on shower and wedding gifts to reduce the cost.
  • Buy one gift and bring it to every shower (some brides have a lot of showers) rather than buying a new one each time.
  • Search out wholesalers and trunk shows to purchase discounted bridesmaid dresses, or try to find it online at a reduced price.
  • Carpool to dress fittings and events.
  • Consider renting the dress instead of buying

Jeffrey Schwartz
Executive Director

Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and President of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto (CAGT).

If you have a question about budgeting with kids in the household or just about finance in general, Jeff is here to help. Send us an email with your question to [email protected]. You’ll get the expert advice you need and your question may be featured here on our website.