I’m wearing my Blee Inara monogram necklace right now, and it’s my pick this week for my Fab Find bridesmaid’s gift — and Moms and flowergirls love them, too! Weddings are all about personalization, and so are bridesmaids’ gifts, and this pretty initial piece on a chain, cord or suede is a gift your bridesmaids will definitely love and use all the time! Take a look through the Blee Inara site, and you’ll find a fabulous collection of stylish jewelry pieces that’ll get you shopping for yourself as well. And I love this comment from a bride-to-be that I spoke to at a big bridal industry event, who saw me wearing my ‘S’ necklace: “That would be such a terrific gift for my groom’s young daughters! We’re planning to include them in our ceremony, take vows with them, and give them little jewelry gifts of their own after we exchange our rings…and these necklaces would be perfect!” How sweet is that?
Bridesmaid budgeting is a lot easier than you think! Welcome to the first session of my new Bridesmaid Master Class, your FREE guides to being a fabulous bridesmaid, on a budget, with plenty of style, and with unforgettable class and grace. Your bride is going to love you!
I know you’re busy, so I’ll keep this quick and easy: today’s bridesmaid spends an average of over $1,200, according to The Wedding Report, and The Knot puts that number up around $1,600 in their recent survey. When you add up that $400 dress, travel and a hotel room for a few nights, the bridal shower, gifts, hair and makeup, things can get very expensive very quickly.
Mty book Bridesmaid on a Budget is filled with hundreds of tips to help you save on all the big and little things on your new shopping list during the year or so that you’ll be a bridesmaid, but I thought I’d start you off with the Bridesmaid Master Class top 3 Money-Saving Commandments:
1. Don’t just say no, suggest something else. If the other bridesmaids want the $500 dress and you can’t afford it, don’t just email a ‘No, that doesn’t work for me,’ email with ‘That one’s really pretty, but out of my budget range. Sorry! What do you all think of these dresses?” And provide 3 to 5 URLs of pretty bridesmaid dresses. That’s how you get things done.
2. Go in on a group gift. If all five of the bridesmaids share the cost of a big-ticket item on the registry, each woman pays a lot less than a solo gift. For instance, that $300 cookware set divided by the five of you equals $60. Very do-able. Or, give their $200 beddding set, making your share $40.
3. Work those coupons! Coupon Sherpa on your iPhone, Retail Me Not, Target, even Costco all offer phenomenal savings on everything you need for the bridal shower. Check out www.coupons.com to get valuable discounts on everything from hummus to salsa and chips, colas, cake mixes and frosting, and more. At the craft store like Michaels Crafts, you’ll get 40% off or more with store coupons, often handed to you after you buy a little something. Tell every bridesmaid, and the moms, to start coupon-hunting, and checking Groupon and Living Social, so that the bride can get an amazing bridal shower…and you’ve saved over 80% on the cost of it!
Tomorrow’s my big Bridesmaids Twitter Party with Bridal Guide (@bridalguidemag)! I’m answering bridesmaids’ and brides’ questions and giving away phenomenal prizes like a $50 gift card to Michaels Crafts, five Kodak one-time-use cameras, 24 copies of the Bridesmaids DVD, jewelry from www.KellyMJewels.com and signed copies of my books Bridesmaid on a Budget and The Smart Guide to Bachelorette Parties! Join us at 2pm EST for an hour of advice, answers, amazing swag and more! [See the Official Rules in the Comments section below!]
Oh, and here’s a little free look into Bridesmaid on a Budget! Check out these stats!
Bridesmaid Market Overview, from www.theweddingreport.com: In 2009, bridesmaids will spend an estimated $9.61 billion. Results from our recent bridesmaid study concluded there are an average 4.3 bridesmaids per wedding accounting for an estimated 9.53 million bridesmaids spending $9.61 billion. A single bridesmaid will spend $1,069-$1,269 on dress to travel.
Here’s the Breakdown of national averages spent by bridesmaids:
Bachelorette Party Expenses $152
Bridal Shower Gift $72
Bridal Shower Plans $60 to $200 per bridesmaid
Bridesmaid Accessories $52
Bridesmaid Dress $178
Bridesmaid Dress Alterations $56
Hair Styling $65
Manicure (plus tips) $32
Outfit for Rehearsal Dinner $71
Plane Fare $303
Hotel (per night) $140
Rental Car (per day) $88
Wedding Gift from Bridesmaid $117
And these are the national average figures, combining the sky-high prices of the Northeast with the more moderate prices of the South and the MidWest. If you’re a southern woman, you might look at that $32 for a manicure figure and laugh in disbelief. If you’re a New York City or Boston woman, $32 might get you very, very excited and Googling to see where you can get a manicure for that low price.
No matter how the individual expenses stack up per category, you’re looking at a cash outlay of about $1,000. More or less. And in this economy, with where you are in life – maybe just graduating college or still in school and eating Ramen noodles, recently married and buying your own first home, struggling to make ends meet in a frustrating and low-paying job that drives you crazy but you’d still hate to get laid off anytime soon – that’s a lot of money to devote to anything.
“$1,000? That’s two rent payments,” says one bridesmaid, whose bliss bubble has burst after a week of being named to a bridal party. “It’s going to be tough to come up with that kind of cash.”
“My boyfriend is already paying most of the bills in our apartment,” says another bridesmaid. “He knows I’ve said Yes to being in the bridal party, but I’m already anxious about each check I’m going to have to write for my friend’s wedding.” And then there’s, “There goes my ski trip!”
But of course, there’s also this: “I know it’s going to cost a lot, but the bride is so very important to me, and this is just a short time of stretching my dollars. So whatever she wants, I’ll find a way.” Kinda want to smack this last one, don’t you? That’s the kind of breezy attitude tossed around by bridesmaids who aren’t living paycheck to paycheck, who have plenty of room on their credit cards, or who have parents who hand out cash like candy on Halloween.
But the truth is, we all have that belief deep inside of us. We love the bride. We’d do anything for her. And we’re trying to balance our money panic with a very real sense of, “It’s worth it.” That’s quite a seesaw, so get your Dramamine ready, because you’re going to be swinging back and forth between the two – money terror and friendly benevolence – until the day you walk down the aisle ahead of her…and maybe for a few months afterward when the credit card bills start rolling in.
What you’ve got here, though, is a handbook of secrets that’s going to cut down on your bridesmaid money terror. Way down. Way, way down. Because you get insider scoop on where to find fabulous bridesmaid’s dresses for a fraction of the national average price. And expert advice on how to throw a stylish shower that only looks expensive, but really costs very little. And…get ready for it….the power to have a say in what you’ll be spending.