The Budget Bridesmaid Conundrum

Friday, December 12, 2014

Budget bridesmaids. LOL LOL LOL LOLLLLLL. Budget + bridesmaid don't really go together, especially once you add up travel + bachelorette parties + bridesmaids dresses + rehearsal dinner outfit + showers + more travel + gifts + hotels + booze + checking luggage because you're hauling decor/gag gifts/embarrassing photos/booze across the country. Even though being a bridesmaid is expensive I think it is such a great honor and I have love love loved being a part of my friends' weddings and wouldn't have spent one less penny to do it. It's worth every single penny. Here are some things I've learned along the way:

For the bridesmaids:

Reselling your bridesmaids dresses/buying used bridesmaid dresses: Racked has an article of everywhere you could possibly buy or sell bridesmaid dresses, plus a few friends of mine have made some dollars back selling used bridesmaid dresses on ebay! Who knew.

Budget Traveling: Kayak alerts (flights), VRBO (accommodations with KITCHENS- hello not eating out for every meal), AirBnB, and Hotwire (car rentals) are my wedding season BFFs. Also I finally got an airline credit card where I get a mile for every dollar spent- looking forward to cashing in and flying to EVERY WEDDING FO FREE next wedding season.

Youtube can show you how to do everything a hair stylist can do: Granted, I have curly hair and most stylists straighten my hair and it turns into a disaster in .5 seconds so my situation is pretty different. Here are some of my favorite tutorials that I have used for every wedding I've been in (I calculated- by not getting my hair and makeup done for each wedding I saved $500 this summer!)

Remember to bring your dress with you to the wedding. It is a lot less expensive to NOT be in your car halfway to South Carolina, realize you left the dress at home, and having to turn around and drive halfway back where your brother has agreed to meet you after breaking into your apartment and finding it in your closet (also saves a lot of headache- explaining to a brother which dress is the mint green gown is extremely difficult). Yes, this was me. After this incident I started making checklists of everything to bring with me which has saved a few dollars along the way by not having to go buy a toothbrush and new makeup with every trip.

Photobooks on shutterfly make great gifts: These are such special gifts and you can always find a code (thanks!) for at least 10000% off. Plus Shutterfly does 80% of the heavy lifting for you (read: I am not creative or artistic at all. You should see my high school scrapbooks- paragraph long captions, random pictures, and times new roman titles for every page).

For the Bride (hi I'm still working on this one PLEASE HELP):

Find beauty school students/recent grads to do hair and makeup: One night, amidst a panic attack involving back to back emails stating Check out our great deal! Just $100 for bridesmaid hair and additional $100 for bridesmaid makeup and we only require you to have 6 sign up!, I posted on Facebook asking for suggestions. Lo and behold, a friend who recently graduated beauty school commented and I now have a much less expensive hair and makeup sitch. (this is the one time I'm not doing my own hair and makeup). Lessons learned: find beauty school students, always seek Facebook.

Bridesmaid dress options: 
  • Etsy: I was in a wedding where we wore Etsy skirts. They were $60. It was magically inexpensive and magically different and we got approximately 90000000 compliments on how original and cute the skirts were.
  • Rental Dresses: Rent The Runway isn't just for the wedding guests.
  • Non Bridesmaid Bridesmaid Dresses: I went with this dress from Nordstrom (sleeves OR no sleeves). If you search their Bridesmaid dresses prices are about $100 higher. Mine were not as inexpensive as I was hoping for, but it's still $100 less than $250...
  • Modcloth: Vintage, different, inexpensive options.
  • PS can we all just post our bridesmaid dresses ahead of time so everyone can avoid the nightmare of showing up in the bridesmaid dress? It happens at every wedding!
Advice From My Brother's BFF Who is Also a Red Carpet Dress Designer (hi Christine THANK YOU for all your help!)
  • Never ask for bridesmaid dresses. This adds ~$100 to the pricetag.
  • Shop juniors departments! Juniors dresses are WAY cheaper and you just have to buy bigger sizes (and check the length)!
  • If you have all your bridesmaids dress sizes, go find them yourself on a major sale days
  • Convertible Tie Dresses: everyone can tie it up however they want. They can cost as low as $30. Helloo. 
  • Make sure b-maids have the dresses at LEAST 5 months in advance to allow for alterations and mishaps
  • Find out when/if the store plans to discontinue the dress you choose. This is so easy- I livechatted someone at to ask this and it took all of 5.5 minutes. (confession: I won worst bridesmaid of the year for an upcoming wedding when I put off purchasing the dress a few months (I'm going to lose at LEAST 15 lbs by that wedding...) and it got discontinued. Thank you J. Crew for your lovely customer service reps, your search & rescue team, and your rural Texas warehouse that had one dress in the right color that had been returned).
What tips do you have for bridesmaids/brides? Any adivce for cutting costs?


  1. These tips are so good! I wish I had known a couple before the big day lol! A big way that I saved as a bride was by doing a lot of the stuff myself like d├ęcor, music, and pulling in my resources of people I knew. I can't wait for your big day!!!

  2. You chose beautiful bridesmaid dresses! I liked that my friend had us do a blowout ($40) vs an updo ($80-100)!

  3. You have some great tips here!!! Any way you can save a few dollars is great when it comes to weddings because gosh darn are they expensive for everyone involved!

  4. This is great! In more early 20s I was a bridesmaid so many times! It got so expensive!

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

  5. Great tips!!! I would have never thought of half of these!

  6. great tips lovely. I have never been a bridesmaid, womp womp. But i love the idea of using rent the runway!

  7. These are some great tips. I couldn't get rid of some of my bridesmaids dresses. Thanks for posting this

  8. Love this post! I have been struggling as a budget bride but I got my wedding dress for 1/3 the retail price by buying from I'll def resell there too! I'm also excited that Rent the Runway is in Georgetown so I might look for bridesmaid dresses there!

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