real life

KATE: Why I'm glad I'll never be a bridesmaid again.

I can’t be your bridesmaid. I can’t afford it.





I’ve done bridesmaid duty once. It was in about 1992. The bride’s mum fired up the Pfaff and ran up not only the bride’s dress but the bridesmaids’ frocks as well.

Dark green shot silk with black trim. We bought our own black court shoes (from memory, mine were from Myer). The only other expense I remember (vaguely) was the cab fare home from the reception.

The whole affair was enormous fun. Perhaps that’s because I’m not still paying it off.

These days, things are different. By different, I mean EXPENSIVE. . The wedding-as-a-week-long-celebrity-event, even for people who aren’t celebrities is such a thing now.

Not surprisingly, more and more people are saying, ‘No, sorry,’ when they’re asked to be bridesmaids or groomsmen. Not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t afford it. The Mail Online reports:

Young people are turning down invitations to be best man or bridesmaid in record numbers it has been revealed, as the cost of being in a wedding is leaving them in a financial hole.

The wedding industry this year reported a return to pre-recession spending for happy couples, with the average budget coming close to $30,000. However it appears that a knock-on effect is that bridesmaids and groomsmen are feeling the pinch and in particular, the best man. 

According to Today, almost one in ten people turned down being a groomsman or bridesmaid because the cost is too high. And in the 18-34 age group, almost 12 per cent of men said no when asked to be a groomsman because of how much it cost. 

These days it’s not just the cost of clothes for the wedding itself. It’s the costs associated with the pre-wedding parties (shower, cellar party, rehearsal dinner) the post-wedding get-togethers (present-opening anyone?) and then there’s a gift. And possibly travel. Destination weddings are almost du rigueur now, with best friends ducking for cover as soon as the words, ‘OMG we’re engaged!’ are squealed.


Because although it may be the happy couple’s dream to be married on a Hawaiian beach with their nearest and dearest wearing white with hibiscus in their hair, then partying with them for ten sun-soaked days and fun-filled nights it may not be anyone else’s. That money may have been earmarked for a car, or a kitchen. Or even their own wedding. Selfish, really.

My take is this: unless you are an actual princess or will become one after your wedding, and can afford to cough up for the WHOLE THING yourself – an that includes bridesmaids dresses, shoes, hair, make up, accommodation, you should adjust your wedding expectations – or prepare for your friends to be mightily pissed off with you.

It might be your dream wedding but it could easily become your friends’ financial nightmare. And don’t go saying, ‘Oh but Kristy and I have been friends since we were six, and she’s got plenty of money.

Just last week she spent $600 on the most hideous silver high heeled sneakers. The dress I have in mind for her is divine. It’s so classic. She’ll wear it again.’

Stop. Right. There. No one ever, in the history of marriage has ever worn a bridesmaid’s dress to anything other than a fancy dress party. Not happily anyway.

And it’s not your business to tell a friend she has enough money for a frock of your choosing. If she want’s to spend her life savings on a pair of jeans made of vintage milk cartons, that’s her business.

It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you, or that she’s unhappy about your marriage.

That whole business of, ‘It’s our day, we should have what we want.’
Yes, you should. But only if you can pay for it yourself.

Would you say no to being a bridesmaid because of the cost?