Miss Mink’s Plan for a Stress-Free Bridesmaid Experience

I look back at the first time I was a bridesmaid fondly. However, I cringe when I think about how much money I spent. I was just a graduate student, but spent as if I were comfortably installed in a lucrative career. (I was always headed toward a job in academia, so that was especially silly of me.)

I wasn’t really convinced that I would wear any of the bridesmaids’ dresses I’ve bought again. I held on to a couple, but they sat in my closet for years. I finally donated them to the Cinderella Project a few years ago.

When I started to think about my bridesmaids, I wondered whether they might have the cost of the role in mind. I came across this graphic from Mint a while back and posted it in the Weddingbee forums, but it’s so comprehensive that it’s worth posting again.

Check out the original on Mint.com’s blog.

These days, Mint says bridesmaids are spending around $1,700 to be part of a bridal party. I don’t think I’ve spent that much myself, but I imagine there are others out there who have.

I expect my ‘maids to spend much, much less than what’s listed above. Here’s the plan:

1. No engagement party, bridal showers, or bachelorette party.

We’ve been engaged for a year at this point, so it’s a little late for that. Showers are generally about gifts, and because we are a little older we don’t really need help outfitting a home. What’s more, my mother always taught me to save up to buy top quality items once, instead of having to replace things multiple times. As a result, I don’t feel as though I need to upgrade any of my appliances or kitchen gadgets. Lastly, I’m not really the bachelorette-party type. I love a good party, but I’m not much of a bar hopper.

2. The bridesmaids pick the dresses.

I hope that by selecting a color and letting the bridesmaids pick their dress styles, they’ll actually wear their dresses again. Every bride says it, but it almost never happens and I think that’s because the dress style is mandated.


Dresses from J.Crew (Discontinued)

3. The dresses will be from J.Crew.

J.Crew’s special-occasion dresses usually retail for $250, but they seem to be on sale constantly. I think I get at least one email each week offering 20% off, and the sale section of their site always has dresses for as low as $50. I hope alterations won’t be necessary. Can someone explain why the bridesmaids’ dresses ordered for me after having my measurements taken never fit while I can buy a dress off the rack at J.Crew and be just fine?


J.Crew bridesmaids / From Style Me Pretty / Floral Design by Loluma / Photography by Corbin Gurkin Photography

4. No restrictions on shoes, hair, or makeup.

I want my girls to wear what’s comfortable. I momentarily thought of buying them all the same shoes. Shoes are so personal, though. I decided to pick a neutral color and let them wear whatever they’d like. The best case scenario would have them wearing something that’s already in their closets!

Now, I have questions. Lots of questions. Feel free to answer one or all. I’d really love to get some different opinions on being a bridesmaid.

What do you think is an acceptable cost for being a bridesmaid?

What’s the most expensive bridesmaids’ dress you’ve worn? Did you wear it again?

Would you rather get an inexpensive bridesmaids’ dress that you would never wear again or a more expensive dress that you really would wear again?


Mrs. Mink

Charlottesville, Virginia
Wedding Date:
June 2012
Mascaras Get Married: Dancing All Night
Don't Be Such a Tulle
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  1. mink Bee
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:17 pm

    @bookworm88: Hooray for the megabus! Great idea!

  2. Member
    MissKabers 537 posts, Busy bee @ 1:48 pm

    oh no – i am so one of those brides that asked the girls to all wear the same shoes (well actually to pick out of two shoes) – but when i mentioned letting them all pick their own, they were nervous because of the color that we wanted and they thought all different wouldn’t look good with their short dresses. i searched everywhere for less expensive ones but eventually sent them the link – at least they were on sale though (so just around $50) plus we got a great deal on dresses so they were less than $50 a piece – i know that they are spending money on things like a shower and the hotel the night of – which i have done for them too, but still i worry that it is strapping them – for me it is important to show them how much we appreciate it – so i send them fun things in the mail – if i can (and if they want it) i will pay for hair and/or make up and i am getting them really personal gifts (and not mandating jewelry, etc) so hopefully i don’t come across as a bridezilla (my number one fear!!!)

  3. mink Bee
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:50 pm

    @MissKabers: It sounds like it was their idea to wear the same shoe? I don’t think you have to worry about being a bridezilla at all!

  4. Member
    MissKabers 537 posts, Busy bee @ 2:12 pm

    @Miss Mink: you are right – i just still get so nervous! ps – i’ve loved reading your posts! so glad you are a BEE! 🙂

  5. mink Bee
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:13 pm

    @MissKabers: Aw, thanks!

  6. Member
    Tostones 393 posts, Helper bee @ 3:23 pm

    I have been a BM three time, never wore any of those dresses or outfits again.
    The most expensive dress was ~$200 with alterations. Due to my height I usually always have to get extensive alterations with those store bought BM dresses. Between dress, shoe, hair, and other expenses (bridal shower, hotel when applicable). I have spent almost 500 being a BM at once. It was too much, I ended up regretting it because the bride was supposed to be my BFF and was totally ungrateful for the effort I and other BMs put into helping her.

  7. mink Bee
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 3:34 pm

    @theoddbride: Aw, that’s such a shame. When it’s fun to be part of the party, I think it’s a little easier to throw those parties and make those trips.

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