The Real Cost: Bridesmaids expect to spend hundreds, if not thousands

Published: Feb. 14, 2019 at 10:29 PM CST
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You can't put a price on friendship. Whether near or far, good friends are what keeps us going through the best and worst times. So when a good friend gives you the honor of asking you to stand next to her in her wedding, most would jump at the opportunity.

But we found, you can put a price on being a bridesmaid. That price isn't always cheap.


It's likely the first thing you think of when saying "yes" to being a bridesmaid. What will the bridesmaids' dresses look like? Some brides choose the same dress for everyone while others mix up the styles or even the colors of dresses.

Regardless of which dress the bride chooses for you, it comes with a price.

"Our dresses start around 130 dollars and they go up to about 300," Dress Gallery Sales Manager Jillian Forseberg said. "If you want something that's pretty plain, doesn't have much embellishment on it, you're going to be closer to that lower end. If you want something that's covered in beading, sparkles or lace, you're going to be a little closer to the higher end."

Boutiques or brick and mortar stores are common for brides to choose bridesmaids' dresses as the salespeople handle a lot of the hassle and fix any potential problems with colors. If you order online, Forseberg said, that doesn't happen.

"A lot of bridesmaids that are purchased online can sometimes have problems with color variation, quality of fabric. It comes in too short. It comes in not fitting properly up top and while a seamstress can sometimes help with those problems, there's no guarantee that the dress is going to look as good as a designer gown," Forseberg said.

Once you get your dress, alterations are very common for bridesmaids. Forseberg said some designers have petite sizes so hems aren't necessary for shorter brides, but not all do.

"Generally speaking, bridesmaid alterations can vary. Anywhere from $50 on up to $100 and that depends on how well you're sized, the quality of fabric that you're using and if you have any beading, which is harder to alter," Forseberg said.

If you're trying to save money, Forseberg said there's some fabrics that are cheaper but still good quality, like chiffon. But she said you don't want to buy cheap rhinestones or any other kind of sparkle because that will be obvious and look cheap in photos.

Thankfully for your wallet, Forseberg said many brides these days either gift their bridesmaids jewelry or ask them to wear something neutral or a certain color instead of making them purchase something specific to match. Dying shoes to match dresses are dead, Forseberg said.

That puts the total for a dress in a range of $180 for the cheapest of dresses at the boutique and the low end of alterations up to $400 for a higher-end dress and more costly alterations.


Once the dress is ordered, hopefully in plenty of time to save money and stress, the next focus is often the bachelorette party.

If the bride is staying local to Kansas, a common bachelorette party idea is to rent a party bus and stop by different places throughout the night.

"For a bachelorette party, usually those take place on Saturday nights," Spot's Party Bus Operations Manager Kurtis Haynes said. "On Saturday nights we do a five hour minimum and so it would be $495 regardless of the size of the bus.

Haynes said for Spot's, some buses can hold up to 50 people, though that's not too common for a bachelorette party. He also said the cost is usually split between bridesmaids so if you were one of five on the party bus, it would be roughly $100 for the trip.

Haynes said his draw to the party bus business is the safety aspect.

"You want to keep everybody as safe as possible so that's one of the best reasons for a party bus to limit the number of people who have been enjoying alcohol from getting behind the wheel," he said.

But many brides these days are looking at bachelorette parties out of town or out of state. Trish DeDamos with Just4U Travel said often times, women meet in college or before and then move for jobs and end up states away from girlfriends. She said that's often a reason brides choose a destination for all of her bridesmaids.

That comes with cost. DeDamos gave an example.

"Well if they did something like to Florida and they're staying for a couple of nights on the beach or something, maybe do a three night weekend or a four night weekend and stuff like that, it would be like 800 to 1000 a person," she said.

"Flight is probably the most of the cost," she added.

DeDamos said prices can also go up if you're going somewhere during it's peak season or if you're staying in a luxury hotel.


When the big day arrives and all the ladies are getting ready for the wedding, it's common for one person, if not a team, to come and do the bridesmaids' hair and/or make up.

"You're going to start with your foundation, your base, tinted moisturizer. Your concealer where and if needed," Make Up Artist Emma Terry said when she does a bridesmaids' make up.

She said she often talks to the bride first about what look they're going for and also asks the bridesmaids if they have any ideas. Then, she gets to work.

"Typically full face application is 40 dollars and then we do offer strip lashes for an additional 10," Terry said.

Then comes hair.

"I would say a very common style is a classic chignon where it's a loose or a tighter bun in the bank, often with a braid coming to the side," Hairdresser Suzie Cotee said describing a common up-do for weddings. The cost for those styles depends on exactly what you want.

"You're looking at about 40 to 60 dollars," Cotee said. "On the low end, it's more of a style where you get your hair curled and set really nice. Once you start getting into half up-dos and braiding and full up-dos, then you get onto the high end."

Cotee and Terry both work for Planet Hair and say their prices are pretty typical when you're using a professional. They say you may add a few dollars if all the bridesmaids wear the same lip color and you buy one for touch-ups. But their prices, they say, are similar to others.

"I think you do get good value for what you're getting with the up-do," Cotee said. "It can be done quickly, we're experienced and you can get out the door and get the rest of things done."

So where does that leave your wallet? Some brides let their bridesmaids do their own hair and make up so only a couple hundred dollars could get a bridesmaid ready to go and covered of all wedding expenses.

But if your bride requires the more expensive options, you could be looking at spending more than $1,000 for just her wedding.

While saying no may not seem like an option when your friend asks you to stand up in her wedding, the cost is a factor to consider before you jump to say yes.