Although it’s an honor to be included in a wedding party, there’s no doubt it’s expensive. When you factor in the clothes, the parties and the gifts, the overall cost can easily reach $1,000 or more. That’s according to a recent study of more than 1,000 bridesmaids and groomsmen by GOBankingRates.
Still, despite the expected expenses, first-timers are often surprised by the unforeseen costs that can pop up as the bride and groom get ready to tie the knot. Click through for the biggest costs for bridesmaids and groomsmen.
5 Surprising Costs of Being a Bridesmaid
Almost one in three bridesmaids spend more money than they expected for their friend’s wedding, according to the GOBankingRates survey. It’s no surprise, either, with gifts, bachelorette parties and dresses as typical bridesmaid costs. Still, those are far from the only costs. Bridesmaids are often surprised by the following expenses.
1. Getting Gorgeous
Although some brides have the budget to pay for their bridesmaids’ hair and makeup for the big day, it’s far from a sure thing. In fact, according to a recent Weddington Way survey of more than 600 bridesmaids across the nation, more than four in five bridesmaids paid for their own primping.
When choosing to accept the honor to act as a friend’s bridesmaid, those “day-of expenses like makeup, hair and nails are often forgotten,” said nine-time bridesmaid Mae Demdam, director of integrated marketing at destination marketing agency Digital Edge Marketing in Jacksonville, Fla. At a nationwide average cost of $89, according to the Weddington Way survey, those grooming costs are far from inconsequential.
To reduce the cost, consider doing your own hair and makeup. Or ask the bride if, instead of hiring a professional, a friend can be brought in who can help out at a fraction of the cost.
2. Pre-Wedding Day Parties
It’s usually expected that bridesmaids’ costs will include the bachelorette party. At an average cost of $386.89 per bridesmaid and $552.33 for the maid of honor, according to GOBankingRates, that’s no small chunk of change. What can surprise some bridesmaids, though, is that sometimes there are additional pre-wedding day parties that they might be expected to pitch in for.
Additional costs Demdam has paid for include those associated with throwing a separate couple shower, a bridal shower and stocking the bar at events. Sometimes there’s also an engagement party. “Depending on how big or small the event is, you will typically cover all of the expenses and divide it by the number of people in the wedding party, excluding the bride and groom,” she said.
It can be awkward to skip out on one or more of these parties to save cash, but according to a 2015 survey released by travel site Priceline, 45 percent of bachelor or bachelorette partygoers have done just that. Although 15 percent of defecting bridesmaids and groomsmen have been kicked out of a wedding party for failing to attend a bachelor or bachelorette party, the vast majority of brides don’t want their friends to overextend themselves financially, even if it’s for their big day.
3. Bachelorette Party Travel
Many bridesmaids expect to pony up for a hotel room and any associated travel costs to get to the wedding and reception. What throws some for a loop, though, is that travel and lodging is often expected to participate in other pre-wedding festivities, like the bridal shower, bachelorette party or even just pre-wedding get-togethers to help plan for the big day.
For out-of-town bridesmaids, or those who want to be present for all of the fun, those costs can add up. The average bridesmaid cost for travel and lodging is $317, according to Weddington Way, and can account for almost a quarter of a bridesmaid’s total budget.
4. Bridesmaid Dress and Alterations
The average bridesmaid spends $203.30 on a dress and alterations, GOBankingRates found. Still, for many bridesmaids, the cost of the dress and alterations can be substantially higher.
Demdam once spent $150 to alter a $250 bridesmaid dress. I “had to get it cut in half and then rebuilt,” she said. All told, “I had spent $400 on a bridesmaid dress.”
“Even something practical like bridesmaid gown shopping often becomes a day-long event involving dining out,” said Benjamin K. Glaser, features editor with DealNews. To help defray some of the wedding party expenses, “some couples are easing up, letting bridesmaids choose their own gowns in a matching color,” he added. For some bridesmaids, that one decision alone can reduce costs by as much as several hundreds of dollars.
5. Gifts for the Couple
While about a quarter of bridesmaids spend between $100 and $150 on gifts for the couple, a sizable minority — 15 percent — spend $200 or more, according to the GOBankingRates survey. It’s not surprising, considering the number of events that increasingly require gifts.
“Everyone knows about wedding presents,” said Zina Kumok, freelance writer and blogger at Debt Free After Three. “But many aren’t aware that they may feel required to buy presents for the engagement party, bridal shower and bachelorette party.”
To cut down on gift costs, consider less expensive, but more meaningful alternatives. DIY gifts like a framed copy of a wedding invitation or a homemade basket of items that are meaningful to the couple can become cherished keepsakes, even though they cost very little to put together.
5 Surprising Costs of Being a Groomsman
Groomsmen, surprisingly, spend more for a friend’s wedding than do their bridesmaid counterparts — $662.27 on average for groomsmen vs. $590.19 for bridesmaids, according to the GOBankingRates survey. Despite the high expected groomsmen costs, there are still a number of unanticipated costs for which to prepare.
1. Gift for the Groom
“Having someone ask you to be a groomsman at their wedding is one of the biggest honors someone can bestow,” said Chris Huntley, owner of Huntley Wealth Insurance. “But that warm and fuzzy feeling does not come without some sticker shock.”
For Huntley, some of the shock came from unexpected — yet financially consequential — groomsman costs. “We all got together and purchased the groom a fantastic gift. I didn’t even know this was a thing,” he admitted. “The cost attached was not cheap.”
More than half of all groomsmen spent $100 or more for gifts for the couple, but one in four shell out $200 or more, according to GOBankingRates. The best way to prepare for the financial costs: Plan ahead and start saving as soon as possible. “As a novice wedding attendant, I never considered the hidden bits and pieces that could break your bank account if you don’t plan for them,” said Huntley.
2. Unexpectedly High-End Events
Groomsmen spend an average of $445.92 on a bachelor party, and the best man spends an average of $998.78, according to the GOBankingRates survey. For some parties, the groomsman’s costs can be substantially more.
Huntley described one bachelor party as “particularly high-end. The champagne was flowing and food was ordered,” he said. Although the groomsmen split the cost, “when the bill came, I was a little taken aback. The excuse that I didn’t drink or eat simply would not fly,” he added.
“From then on I learned my lesson,” Huntley added. “Sock away some serious cash before you take part in a wedding.”
3. Groomsman Shoes
Groomsmen spend $216.35, on average, for a tuxedo and alterations. But then there are the shoes. “Living in sunny Southern California, I didn’t have a pair of lace-up Oxfords on hand,” said Huntley. “A trip to the shoe store for kicks I will only wear at weddings and funerals was a hard pill to swallow.”
Some tuxedo rentals come with a pair of patent leather loaners, which can defray the groomsman costs. For fashion-forward groomsmen, however, the tuxedo experts at website AskMen.com suggest simple black leather shoes instead.
4. Destination Bachelor Parties
Almost one in three men have spent $850 or more in travel expenses related to a bachelor party, according to the Priceline survey. That includes food and drink, entertainment, airfare, hotel, gifts and transportation.
To save cash, try to avoid travel surprises. “If you’re catching a plane, of course you will be aware of the cost in advance,” said Andrew Reeves, founder and CEO of Luxe Translation Services. “But there are also taxi costs that I had not expected.”
At one wedding weekend, “one taxi took me a distance of about 15 miles and it ended up costing $100,” Reeves said. A little pre-planning of local bus or commuter rail routes could drastically reduce the cost of getting to and from pre- and post- wedding day celebrations.
5. Food and Drink
What’s surprising here isn’t that the groom and his buddies will eat and drink — probably a lot. Still, many groomsmen are unprepared for the high cost of these expenditures. At 28 percent of overall budget, according to Priceline, food and drink is often the highest ticket item a groomsman will face.
To cut down on those food and alcohol costs, consider pre-gaming at the hotel — alcohol is much more expensive in a restaurant or bar — grilling out, or bringing your own bottles and dining at a BYOB.
Methodology: This survey was conducted by GOBankingRates through Survata and collected 1,005 total responses ― surveying 502 women and 503 men ― from April 1-3, 2016, with a margin of error of 4.4 percent. The survey posed six questions to people who had served in wedding parties in the last three years about how much they spent on various costs associated with being a bridesmaid, maid of honor, groomsman or best man. GOBankingRates also analyzed the results using Survata’s data on respondent ages.
The six survey questions for bridesmaids were all asked in reference to the most recent wedding they were in and included: (1) How much did you spend on your bridesmaid dress (including any alteration costs)? (2) How much money did you spend on the bachelorette party in total (including travel, clothing, food/drink, entertainment, etc.)? (3) How much money did you spend on gifts for the couple in total (including for an engagement party, bridal shower, wedding, etc.)? (4) How much money did you spend in total on other things for the wedding specific to your bridesmaid duties (including additional travel, hosting duties, hair/makeup, shoes, etc.)? (5) What was your role (bridesmaid or maid of honor)? (6) Did the total amount you ended up spending match your initial expectations?
The six survey questions for groomsmen were all asked in reference to the most recent wedding they were in and included: (1) How much did you spend on your suit/tuxedo (including any alteration costs)? (2) How much money did you spend on the bachelor party in total (including travel, clothing, food/drink, etc.)? (3) How much money did you spend on gifts for the couple in total (including for an engagement party, wedding shower, wedding, etc.)? (4) How much money did you spend in total on other things for the wedding specific to your groomsman duties (including additional travel, hosting duties, shoes, etc.)? (5) What was your role (groomsman or best man)? (6) Did the total amount you ended up spending match your initial expectations?