Being a bridesmaid is more than showing up and looking decent. More and more, I'm finding ladies seem to be confused about what their actual part entails, when signing up for such a prestigious role.
First, please remember you are being asked to be a member in the biggest day of someone's life- a friend, relative, or even stranger (sometimes a place just needs to be filled). Whether you're "besties" or "frienemies", know your rights (Clash). The most important being, you can decline. A simple handwritten note does the trick, and is classy. A Bride will thank you for your honesty up-front, instead of being involved in the planning when you decide to back out. If asked verbally, "I'm sorry, but I just don't have the time to commit to such a big event! I want your day to be everything you've ever imagined, and I don't feel like I can give you that. I would be honored to attend, and help, if I can, but to be in the bridal party is just too much for me," is another way to decline without drama. If drama ensues with either of these acts, cut and run... the Bride is going "zilla" on you.
If money is an issue for you as a whole, decline immediately. There are wedding expenses above and beyond what you can plan for. If you lose your job, speak with the Bride immediately and ask her what she would like you to do, "Jamie, I've just lost my job, and I would still be honored to be a part of your big day, but I'm not sure if I can pay for all the little things. Would it be easier for you if I step down, or can I work with you on the dress expenses, such as purchase and alterations?" This gives the Bride the option. If she asks you to remain in the party, be sure to speak with the other maids about things they will be helping with, as well, such as the shower, group gifts, bachelorette party, etc. Maybe you can do more leg work, like researching locations, offering to have the shower at your house, or doing a majority of the clean up, cooking, DYI favors or putting the programs together- with more time on your hands, offer it up!
Maybe time is a concern for you? There will be group dress shopping, mass emailing, lunches, dinners, rehearsals, the actual day, a day of recovery, possibly travel. Can you handle all the time commitments of a bridesmaid?
Always think of the Bride in matters of ease. If you're going to be a drag, you're going to sink the ship. The bridal party should try to be a cohesive unit, even if you don't know one another. If there is something you can't do, own up to it BEFORE it becomes an issue.
Some monetary things to consider:
Dye (shoes) $5-15
Engagement gift (individual) $50
Shower gift (group, per person) $50-100
Wedding gift (individual) $100-150
Shower (venue, invites, favors, cake) $100-300 (depending on location and number of maids)
Bachelorette party $50-100 (per bridesmaid)
Out-of-state (travel, hotel) $200-700 (could be more with air travel)
Some time things to consider:
Group meetings, 3-4 afternoons or evenings
Dress shopping w/ Bride, 1-4 afternoons
Bridesmaid dress shopping, 1-2 afternoons
*Associated travel time
Groomsmen have it easier, but if your man is saying "yes", let him know he has some responsibilities, too... paying for strippers is extra.
To think about:
Tux Rental $150-200
Wedding gift $150
Bachelor party (depending on festivities) $50-400
Jack-and-Jill shower gift/Engagement gift** $50-75
Groom's gift (some guys like to give a gag to their lost bachelor comrade) $25
Grooming (haircut, professional shave, man-icure) $25-50
Travel time for wedding +
* Engagement party
* Bachelor party
* Wedding day
**If called for
These are just rough estimates... in the end, just remember you're being asked a serious question, not to just stand up with that person, but to support them in all their wedding-craze, to throw them parties, buy them gifts and pamper yourself... all at your time and financial expense. It's an honor with a price-tag.
Good luck to all those maids out there- it's a rough terrain you're entering! ***
***Keep your gripes to yourself... remember, I warned you!