weddings

"It may as well come with an EFTPOS machine": The incredible cost of being a bridesmaid.

Once upon a time, being asked to be someone’s bridesmaid was basically an invitation to free booze, a Whitney Houston-riddled playlist and perhaps a cubic zirconia keepsake to store on your jewellery tree a la 1993.

Team Mamamia confess… the worst request I’ve received as a bridesmaid.

Video by MMC

But in 2019, the invitation to be someone’s bridesmaid may as well come with an EFTPOS machine — research has shown it costs on average over $500 to be a bridesmaid.

Not only because wedding celebrations themselves are getting more and more bougie (flower wall, anyone?), but because things that were traditionally being paid for by the bride and groom are being shunted invoice-first towards the bridesmaids.

Hair, makeup, shoes and even dresses were all things once traditionally provided by the bride. After all, she calls the shots on whether she wants you in halter neck, ruffled satin or some disastrous concoction of polyester and elastane.

“My friend recently spent $300 on a dress, $100 on shoes, $150 for hair and make-up, kicked in $100 each for a present for the bride, and another $100 on the hens”, one woman told Mamamia.

Another disgruntled Melbourne bridesmaid, explained that she had no idea of the costs involved. “Under no other circumstances would it be okay to put people close to you in a stressful financial situation… Never again”.

And she’s quite right. When else in life is there a financial pressure from someone who’s supposed to be your friend, quite like that of being a bridesmaid?

We even tracked down one bridesmaid who’d been forced to buy a Zimmerman dress to fulfil her role in what’s now being known as ‘the bride tribe’.

 

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The amount of control modern day brides seem comfortable exercising over their bridesmaids is actually quite alarming.

Speaking of a run in with a particularly picky bride, one unnamed bridesmaid said, “We had to buy white shoes, and she told us the exact $80 pair we had to buy because she liked they way they felt in her hand.” Another was told “you’re not a guest at this wedding, you’re here to work.”

Many bridesmaids also exhibited particularly distressing responses to the costs of the hens party.

US Bachelorette parties have long been leaps and bounds ahead of the humble hens of us Aussies, but from what we’ve sniffed out from Australia’s Bridesmaids Anonymous, it seems we’re catching up to our transatlantic cousins.

The hens party: an estrogen-charged task force.

The burden to not only organise the celebrations but also fork out the cash for it is putting extra stress and financial pressure on the modern day bridesmaid. Finding themselves thrown together into an estrogen-charged task force with a group of other women they barely know makes things even worse.

“My friend ended up being in a bridal party with some horrible girls she hated from school”, said one bridesmaid.

Coming face to face with the cool girls who made fun of you at school? Sounds like hell to us.

bridesmaid cost
Coming face to face with the cool girls who made fun your fierce AF blue eyeliner at school? Sounds like hell to us. Image: Getty.
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The general rule of thumb when it comes to hens parties is, the more ridiculous, the better, which is perhaps the fault of social media, encouraging us to go one better than the brides who came before us.

Flights, accommodation, food, annual leave and more foil balloons and bizarrely shaped pool inflatables than you can possibly imagine, it’s unsurprising many hens parties cost the bridesmaids over $1000 – especially when the bride doesn’t pay for herself.

Thrown in the new-age concept of having a penis-straw clad hens party one weekend, and then a second, more demure bridal tea that you can invite your Nan to the next, it’s no wonder bridesmaids are going broke. There’ll be bridesmaid loans advertised during the breaks of The Bachelor, before we know it.

Anna Kendrick was even quoted saying “I have potentially avoided making any close female friends because I don't want to be a bridesmaid.” She went on to say “If you put me on an email chain and tell me I have to wear ballet pink nail polish I will kill you where you stand”.

We’re more obsessed with her than we thought.

Can I say ‘no’ to being a bridesmaid?

With all this pressure, it begs the question – can you say no? Well, if you ask would-have-been-bridesmaid, Tina, you bloody bet you can.

“The bride wanted us to spend $900 on a pair of shoes, $500 on a dress, $150 on hair and make-up, $100 for jewellery, and $90 for nails. This was all on top of planning and forking out for the hens weekend, flights and transfers to a remote town, and pay $600 in accommodation to stay three nights.” Tina called it quits two months before the wedding.

That said, most bridesmaid tensions probably aren’t worth losing a friendship over. Many bridesmaids say they’ve “never felt like more of a bad human” than during their months as a bridesmaid-to-be. The catty group chats, the frustration, the whispers and cliques among the group – it’s a recipe for disaster.

Try and find that sweet spot between communicating your fears with the bride before things go too far, and setting aside money for the bridesmaid fund as early as you can. Being financially prepared will at least ease the pressure.

What's the most you've ever spent on being someone's bridesmaid? Tell us in a comment below.

Emma Edwards is a financial lifestyle blogger at The Broke Generation. Gently delivering practical money advice to fellow millennials on her website and on Instagram, Emma’s a big believer in doing all the right things with your money, while still living your best life.

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