Is there *truly* a way to balance “Oh my gosh, I’m SO happy for you, of course I’d love to be your bridesmaid!” with: “Er… destination wedding? Designer dress? Bachelorette in Vegas?”
How much is this going to cost?
I’ve been there, and I can absolutely relate. On one hand (at the risk of sounding cliché), it truly is an honour to be asked to be part of someone’s most special day. There’s a strengthening of ties, deepening of friendships and a certain privilege associated with being a member of the bridal party.
On the other hand, there’s the not-so-small matter of the costs. And trust me, they can add up quickly. In fact, a recent TD survey found that almost 40 per cent of Millennial and Gen X Canadians who have been in a wedding party say they felt pressured to spend more than they could afford, and the amounts can be significant: half (50 per cent) of those surveyed said on average they spent (or plan to spend) between $200 and $599 to be in a wedding party; yet a quarter (25 per cent) said they actually spent $600 or more for the average wedding.
“Most people can expect to participate in quite a few weddings throughout their lifetime, particularly when they’re younger and their friends or family members are getting married, so including the related costs in your annual budget is a smart thing to do,” said Raymond Chun, Senior Vice President, Everyday Banking and Personal and Indirect Lending at TD. “Having a realistic amount in your budget also helps you stay within a spending range that you’re comfortable with and know you can afford.”
Is it any surprise that being in a wedding party may cost more than anticipated? For ladies, it’s customary to budget for the cost of your dress, plus co-hosting duties for the bridal shower and bachelorette. However, unless you’re also factoring in salon costs for hair, nails and makeup, tickets to attend bridal shows with the bride-to-be, new shoes and (often) new undergarments, dress alteration fees, hotel and/or travel costs, wedding day-related costs such as babysitting or pet-sitting, etc… trust me, you’re budgeting too low.
“One of the best ways to cope with the costs of being in a wedding party is to start saving money as soon as the engagement is announced so you don’t have to scramble to find the money when asked to take part in the festivities,” said Chun. “By setting up a separate tax-free savings account and depositing a regular amount into it each month or pay day, you’ll be able to build a savings fund for things like wedding attire, the gift and any related travel costs.”
So, how can you prepare for the costs of participating in a friend or relative’s wedding? Here are some tips:
1. Set a realistic budget. Include all of the possible costs, including wedding attire, grooming, gifts (including a shower gift), the bachelor/ bachelorette party and travel. For out-of-town weddings, remember that booking travel and a hotel room as soon as possible can often help to keep those costs down, and make sure to check if the bride and groom have volume discounts at the hotel.
2. Establish a savings plan. Figure out how much time there is until the wedding and set up a regularly scheduled deposit to a Tax-Free Savings Account so you’ll be able to save to help cover the expenses.
3. Choose a gift early from the bridal registry. There can be a wide range of gifts (and prices) in a bridal registry, with the less expensive ones often selected early, so don’t wait to choose your gift or you may be left with one that costs more than you budgeted for. For more expensive items, consider teaming up with another bridal party member to split the costs.
4. Redeem credit card reward points for as many expenses as possible. Depending on the type of credit card you have and where you shop, you may be able to use your reward points to cover the cost of a gift and your wedding attire as well as any hotel and travel costs. Whatever money you’re able to save by using points can stay in your Tax-Free Savings Account to help cover the costs of future weddings. Additionally, charging the costs to your rewards card will allow you to earn rewards faster.
5. Shop around. You don’t have to buy the first bridesmaid’s dress, shoes or other accessories you find. Do your research online and in-store before making a purchase as many stores could carry the same designers at different price points.
With wedding season already in full swing, it’s a great time to establish a savings plan for upcoming or future wedding party costs. And if all else fails, make sure you take advantage of the open bar!