Guest blogger: Nicole Lapin, Editor-in-Chief of Recessionista.com. She is the founder and CEO of Nothing But Gold Productions, a multimedia production company focused on creating accessible financial content across television, print and digital platforms. Lapin is the former anchor of CNBC’s "Worldwide Exchange," the only global show on the network. Lapin was also a contributor on MSNBC and served as a personal finance expert on NBC’s "Today Show." Prior to CNBC, Lapin was the youngest anchor ever on CNN.
So you’ve been chosen as your gal pal to be one of her bridesmaids. Congrats! We’re sure you’re thrilled, as you should be. But guess who’s less than thrilled? Your wallet. The truth is, after the dress, accessories, travel expenses, gifts…being in someone’s wedding is downright pricey. In fact, a recent poll conducted by American Express found that bridal party attendants spent an average of $577 in 2012, which is about $200 more than the year prior. So what’s a gal to do?
First things first, speak with your bride or the Maid of Honor about any budget concerns immediately after accepting the position. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page with what they can afford, and will lessen the chance of uncomfortable money conversations down the road.
Next, ask for a few priorities. Chances are, there are areas where you’ll need to spend and others where you can skimp without it making a difference. Is it most important to her that you have the right dress? Is she less concerned about accessories? Read on for the low down on where you can save, and where you should spend...
If your bride is like most, she is going to go to great lengths to pick out the perfect dress for you and the other maids. She is also probably going to start looking early, so now is the time to voice any budget concerns or limitations (after all, there’s no sense in her looking for dresses at a certain price point if they’re already out of the question!). Early selection works in your favor for two reasons: 1) it gives you more time to save, and 2) you can choose early and give a little lead time for any discounts or deals to pop up.
While the dress is the focal point of a bridesmaid’s attire, the shoes are likely less important, and in the event that your bride has chosen a long dress you’ll barely see them anyway. Now is not the time to treat yourself to $200 shoes; unless your bride has specifically asked for something, hit up the sale racks and try to stick to $75 or less. Hint: you will likely know about the wedding a few seasons in advance, so start looking now to purchase a pair out of season and at a discount!
A Nice Shawl
This is something you are going to use again and again for formal events, so better to invest now so it holds up later. Go for a shawl or pashmina in a neutral color like white, black, or navy so you can wear it with an array of dress colors (bridesmaid’s and otherwise). Avoid anything linen, because it wrinkles easily, as well as anything with a chunky knit or embellishment which can snag or pull.
Considering that she’s going to cherish her wedding photos forever, leave your hair to the professionals. While you may do a beautiful job on your own hair, it just won’t last as flawlessly after countless hugs and hours of dancing as when you have a pro do it for you. Avoid anything too intricate (read: extra styling time means more money!) and pack a little travel-sized hairspray in your purse to do your own touchups.
While a fresh face is just as important as party-proof hair, it’s easier to achieve on your own. This is a great place to compromise on budget. If your bride is bringing in a makeup person, see if you can order services a la carte. For example, ask for just airbrushed foundation for that dewy, long-lasting look and then do the rest of your makeup yourself. Or go super-glam with false lash application and then do your own base and lips.
It’s tempting to feel like you need to stay in the nicest resort, rent a car, and other big expenses because you’re in the wedding, but unless the bride requires it this is a great place to save. Does it make more sense for your budget to stay at the Best Western down the street? Do it, because guess what: you’re going to be spending very little time in your hotel room anyway! Similarly, arrange to car pool with friends instead of renting your own car.
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