I’ve been a bridesmaid twice, and both times I ended up very tired and very broke. Was it worth it?

I have a simple way of deciding whether or not I’ll accept an invitation to be a bridesmaid. How close am I to the bride and groom? If I can’t say, “They’re my family,” I’ll decline.

Decline?! But then people might not like me!
Oh well.

The first time I was a bridesmaid, I was the Maid of Honor. There were two of us total, and the other bridesmaid was the groom’s teenage sister. So, the financial responsibility fell on me. I threw the bridal shower and had that catered, I paid for half the photography, arranged all the flowers, and  I did the bride’s hair and makeup (I was a stylist at the time). My dress was $200, which isn’t that much when it comes to bridesmaid dresses. The bride and groom were very appreciative, and we all had a lot of fun throwing this wedding. Unfortunately,  I am no longer friends with the bride. I’m not going to say it wasn’t worth it because we really did have a good friendship at the time, and the entire process was a lot of fun. However, if I had known her better at the time, I probably would’ve declined. We had only been friends for about a year.

I wasn’t in a wedding again for thirteen years. Last year I was a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding, and it really meant a lot to me. Again, there were only two bridesmaids, and the bride’s daughter was Maid of Honor. It was a very simple garden wedding in a friend’s backyard. I purchased my dress on Poshmark for $100, and it was brand new with tags. I did my own hair and makeup, as well as the bride’s. I planned and paid for a good chunk of the bachelorette weekend. At the wedding, I did some photos as a gift, and I’m planning on doing a portrait session for them as well. It was so much fun, and 100% worth it. We are best friends with this couple, and they are my family. My husband even performed their ceremony, which was incredibly beautiful.

I was very fortunate to have two brides who were on budgets and therefore didn’t expect me to spend a fortune.

I think it’s important that the bride understands not everyone can afford to spend $2,000 to be a bridesmaid. She should definitely ask her bridesmaids what their budgets are. And she should never be financially demanding. Recently a story went viral about a bride who was demanding thousands of dollars cash from her maid of honor as a gift. Basically, she was trying to force everyone else to pay for her wedding. She was beyond spoiled. The wedding was called off. The groom dodged a serious bullet!

If you are being invited to be a bridesmaid, count the costs before saying yes. Don’t be afraid to ask the bride what it might cost you, and be honest with her about what you can afford.

I was also fortunate to be part of small bridal parties.

What if you are a one of ten bridesmaids? It can be very difficult, especially if some of them live out of town. When it comes to planning, the Maid of Honor is typically in charge of events. The hardest part is coordinating schedules. Coming up with ideas that everyone agrees on can be pretty difficult too.

If you are Maid of Honor, consider the bridesmaids’ financial situations. They would really appreciate your asking them what they can afford. The best way to decide on group activities is to take nominations, then vote on the options. Then everyone feels heard.

Don’t turn it into a popularity contest. When I asked about this topic on social media, one of my clients said, there’s always one girl who’s willing to max out a credit card to prove she should’ve been Maid of Honor. I’ve definitely seen rivalry between bridesmaids. If you’re busy fighting, you’ll miss out on all the fun! Plus, you’ll stress the bride out. Weddings are stressful enough without added tension between friends.

So, what if you have to say no? All you can do is be upfront and honest about why you can’t accept. If your friendship is strong and means a lot to the bride, she will understand.