Friday, July 8, 2011

Behind the Scenes of Being My Bridesmaid

Did you know the average American bridesmaid spends nearly $1700 to be a part of her friend's nuptials? Holy cow, is that a lot of money.

One of my biggest concerns throughout wedding planning has been the cost to those who have graciously agreed to be my bridesmaids. They will be planning showers and bachelorettes, not to mention buying the dress and just being a part of my special day. You don't want to be more of an imposition than you already are, in my opinion.

Emily Post advises to be upfront with your bridesmaids about what they will be responsible for cost-wise. Typically, that involves the dress and the cost of traveling to the wedding location. You can also be upfront and say you'd like them to have their hair done the day of the wedding, but they are under no obligation to pay for that. And the rudest thing would be, day of, to require them to pay for a hairdo that they had no idea they should budget for! Give them notice.

Now onto the fun stuff: Dresses!  To emphasize the formal, evening feel of my wedding, I want a long maids gown, preferably in chiffon, but I'm likely going to let my maids choose the style on top since they are various - shall we say - endowments, and just different body types! In August, I'll be going to some dress stores in Chicago with my Maid of Honor to settle on a brand and color.

Amsale is my dress of choice but of course it's also the priciest.

Here's the color I'm thinking. It's called French Blue. Tres romantique, n'est pas? (Navy or slate are backups.)

My maids will pick their own style, but this is my personal favorite!

Priscilla of Boston make slightly cheaper versions of these Amsale dresses, but there is less range of color and style.

This Priscilla of Boston dress is great for curvier ladies. "Midnight" or "French Blue" would be my options.
Wtoo dresses are the least expensive of all, and the brand does lots of great knockoffs. However, the color palette is really limited - I'd have to use "indigo" which might be a bit purple...

This is a total Vera Wang knockoff - so pretty!
And another option - with straps!

Do you like what you see?

A couple tips on cost-cutting:
1. Order all the bridesmaids dresses from the same store. Have them get measured by a tailor and send the measurements to one location. Most stores offer a discount when you purchase 4 or more dresses.
2. Better yet, order the dresses from the same store you buy your dress. You've built a relationship with the store, and they will finagle the numbers for you. Some stores, like Hitched in Georgetown, offer a straight-up additional percentage off.
3. Look at knockoffs. Yes, you may love-love-love the Vera Wang, but did you know brands like WToo makes nearly the exact same dresses at a fraction of the cost?
4. Think about letting your bridesmaids make a choice. For me, my maids will be picking their own style from one brand. But you could consider giving some guidance - color, fabric, length or any combination - and let them spend as much or as little as they want to on a dress of their choice. In either circumstance, you're increasing the chance that they didn't shell out a ton for a dress they'll wear once.
5. Gift the rest. I know that's asking for you, the bride, to pay more. But if you want to require the bridesmaids to have certain hair styles, certain makeup, certain jewelry... You pay for it.

While we're on that note... if you are having a "destination" wedding of sorts, you are technically (according to Emily Post) responsible for your maids' lodging. You can say, I need you here Friday and Saturday, so you can pay for those two nights. They would be responsible for any other nights. Your maids are also responsible for their own travel to the destination.

The bottom line when it comes to bridesmaids is this: You want to talk to them after you get back from the honeymoon, right? You're entitled to get what you want on your day, but asking your friends to spend a month's paycheck on your wedding falls into Bridezilla territory.

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