Being a bridesmaid comes with considerable obligations, most of which include a hefty price tag. Facing expenses like day-of attire, pre-wedding festivities, travel, gifts and more, it’s no wonder today’s bridesmaid spends over $1,400 to participate in a loved one’s event. As we enter the busy wedding season this summer, bridesmaids can alleviate some of the financial pressure by following these 11 hacks from Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice:
1. Buy a used dress. There are tons of websites dedicated to gently-used bridal and bridesmaids gowns, many of which are the exact same styles sold by popular bridal shops. Once the bride selects the style and color, check BridesmaidTrade.com or even Craigslist and eBay for potential savings of up to 75%. I recently sold a J.Crew bridesmaid dress on eBay to a woman who needed the exact same dress for her friend’s wedding. I made $60 and she received a stellar deal; the current selling price for that dress is $250! [medrec]
2. Rent or borrow accessories. Typically, the style and color of shoes and other accessories are dictated by the bride. If you don’t already own accessories that match this requested look, ask around to friends and family for borrowing. Alternatively, consider renting jewelry, clutches and other accessories from sites like RentTheRunway.com, which offers beautiful designer items for as little as $10.
3. DIY beauty. This wedding is not about you so forego professional hair, makeup and nail services and do everything yourself to save money. If the bride insists on a formal up-do for the ceremony, budget for that cost and do the rest yourself. In some cases, you may be able to score a free makeover from Sephora or another beauty retailer. Otherwise, seek discount services from a nearby beauty school or ask a friend or family member who is skilled in makeup artistry to help out!
4. Redeem credit card rewards thoughtfully. Prepare ahead for travel expenses by stockpiling airline miles and credit card rewards which you can redeem toward a flight or hotel stay. You can even gift accrued miles to the couple for their honeymoon. Otherwise, you can redeem rewards toward gift cards for the bridal shower and wedding gift. Savvy spenders might try travel hacking, or opening several reward-rich credit cards for the bonus miles.
5. Compare lodging rates. The hotel rates negotiated by the couple may not represent the best deal. Sometimes you can uncover a special discount through the hotel’s website, a third-party booking site, or even a daily deal site. In fact, LivingSocial released a super deal for the hotel I reserved for my wedding, and I was not embarrassed to share the offer with guests who all received nearly 50-percent off the group rate!
6. Rent a condo. Bridesmaids traveling with a big group of friends or family may find renting a condo or home is cheaper than the hotel rate. Search for properties located near the wedding venue using sites like HomeAway, and split the cost with others. In addition to saving on lodging, access to a kitchen will help you offset the cost of meals during the wedding weekend.
7. Use discount gift cards. To help save on bridal shower and wedding gifts, purchase gift cards at a discount for up to 25% off face value. I bought several discount gift cards for Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma and saved an average of 10% on my gift purchases! For even deeper discounts, search deal sites like CouponSherpa.com for coupons to registry stores. For example, you can combine a gift card with a Williams-Sonoma promo code for 20% off bedding and bath items!
8. Provide a service as a gift. Most couples financing their wedding welcome free or a discounted service in lieu of a gift. Some of the most common services provided by friends and family include photography, videography, day-of makeup and hair prep and decorating help. You can even offer to bake the wedding treat or officiate the ceremony, if the couple hasn’t made other arrangements.
9. Go dateless. If you’re aren’t married or dating anyone seriously, going dateless will instantly save you on travel and gift costs. Per etiquette guidelines, you can opt for a less-expensive gift when you only have one plate to cover and even split the cost of accommodations and other travel expenses with a friend or family member.
10.Don’t overcommit. If attending the many pre-wedding events that take place these days including the engagement party, bridal shower and bachelorette getaway means going into debt, don’t overcommit. Choose one festivity to participate in and send a gift or do something thoughtful instead. For example, if you can’t afford the bride-to-be’s last hoorah, send a bottle of champagne to her hotel room.
11. Politely decline. If life is too busy and you have other financial commitments, politely decline the invitation to be a bridesmaid. Thank your friend for the honor of being asked and look for other ways to contribute to her big day. You can help her plan the wedding or offer a service to reduce her costs. ”