How Much Does it Really Cost to be a Bridesmaid?

Catching the bouquet comes at a price

Hands up if you’ve secretly been planning your stint as a bridesmaid since you and your BFF got those matching friendship necklaces when you were 12? Let’s be honest, being there for your bestie on her wedding day (and getting to wear an amazing dress plus potentially score the number of the groom-to-be’s hot varsity roomie) is major goals. But it’s 2017 and we live in South Africa, so before you bankrupt yourself living your best bridesmaid life, we thought we’d give you a bit of a reality check.


Here’s what three local bridesmaids had to spend:

Bridesmaid 1

Age: 25

Relation to bride: Maid of Honour (we are very close friends)

Scale of wedding: It was a very expensive wedding, with an estimated 90 people who attended. The wedding was at Backenhof Estate and the couple spent a total of about R200 000.

Bachelorette: All the bridemaids contributed to the planning of when, what to do and what to contribute. We invited the younger female wedding guests and had a gathering at the bride’s soon-to-be mother-in-law’s house. We played games, opened gifts, got smashed and then went to Beefcakes. After Beefcakes, we made our way down to Oblivion in the southern suburbs. WE UBERED! It cost a small fortune. That night, we paid for all the bride’s expenses. We also bought all the food and drinks which were served at the house. We did, however, tell the ladies attending to bring their own XYZ.

Bridesmaids dress: The bride decided on the dressmaker. I am a designer by trade so to save money I  asked if I could make my own dress. The wedding was in January and my expenses were through the roof so the more I could save the better. The dresses were long, grey-chiffon float styles, with a rouged bust area – it cost me just R250 to make. The rest of the bridesmaids paid R1 250 each. 

Hair and makeup: We paid R550 in total to have our hair and makeup done.

The wedding day: It was beautiful and relatively free of costs. Everything went smoothly and the bride and groom were the happiest I’d ever seen them. The only cost for the wedding itself was for food the night before and breakfast the morning of as we all spent the night at the wedding venue.

Unexpected costs: The whole wedding was an unexpected cost! Haha. Also, as bridesmaids, we had lots of ‘meetings’ to discuss things like the bachelorette party. These would always happen at restaurants and became quite pricey. Getting asked to be a part of a friend’s special day is an honour but it’s definitely something to budget for. There should be more freedom to decline without being judged or made to feel guilty.

Total spend: R3 000


Read: Don’t Ask Your Friends About Their Marriage Plans! Here’s Why

Bridesmaid 2

Age: 25

Relationship to bride: The bride is my sister and I was Maid of Honour

Scale of wedding: It was a medium-sized wedding.

Bachelorette: We had an all-day bachelorette party and, yes, it was as expensive as it sounds. Luckily, I knew we wanted to go all out so I saved a bit in the preceding months. The day started with full-body massages, followed by a bridesmaids’ photoshoot in the afternoon. Later in the evening, we went all out for the party itself. We were a group of about 12 girls and went to what could be considered a ‘fancy’ cocktail bar in the city for drinks and tapas. I organised most of the day, from cake and balloons to the bride’s comical bachelorette attire. As the maid of honour, I paid for the decor and welcome drinks while another bridesmaid chipped in for the tapas. All the bridesmaids split the costs for the photoshoot. In total, I spent roughly R2 000 on the day. The other’s spent less but they had to fly in to attend so they had travel costs.

Kitchen tea: We had a separate afternoon for the family and older female wedding guests but this was all organised by the bride and groom’s mothers. The bridesmaids attended but no-one was expected to contribute to this.

Gifts: We had gift ideas for guests but the bridemaids were not expected to give a gift to the bride and groom, especially because many of them had to fly in for the bachelorette party.

Bridesmaids dress: The dresses were a rose-gold pink with a lace overlay. Like most things in life these days, we had a WhatsApp group. Each of us would just send dress ideas until we all agreed on the final dress. Once we were all in agreement, we had the dresses made. This cost us each R2 000 in total.

Shoes: Each bridesmaid bought their own shoes. Mine were R599.

Hair and makeup: I’m not sure of the cost. The bride paid for this.

Wedding day: On the day while getting ready we had some finger food, but that must’ve set us back by around R50 only.

Unexpected costs: A bachelorette party is expensive, even though I had a budget. In efforts to make the day fun for everyone, some of us bridesmaids exceeded our food and drinks budget. This cost me an extra R500.

Total spend: R5 000


Bridesmaid 3

Age: 27
Relationship to bride: Best friend. I was the Maid of Honour 
Scale of wedding: There were 150 guests and the wedding was held out of town in Worcester in the Western Cape, so many guests had to travel. As bridesmaids, we went through the day before. Everyone contributed to fuel and we stayed at the bride’s family home before the wedding. 
Bachelorette: The bride lives in Johannesburg and everything was a complete surprise for her. To help keep the secret we organised that the bachelorette be held on the same weekend as my birthday and convinced her to fly to Cape Town for my ‘birthday party’. We started the festivities off with a one-hour pole-dancing class (which we scored for free, yay!). We then hit the malls for some last-minute ‘wedding shopping’ and lunch before heading home. That evening we went to Beefcakes for drinks and ended the night off at Cubaña (where we knew a guy – he hooked us up with free hooka pipes, supper and drinks all night). We spent around R500 for the full the day.
Gifts: The bride did not want any gifts from her bridesmaids.
Bridesmaids dress We got our dresses from China Town and paid R350 each. The bride chose a royal-blue mermaid-style dress – it was fitted, with sequins all over and definitely not something I would have chosen for myself, but I loved the look nonetheless.
Shoes: We were asked to wear silver shoes and everyone was responsible for buying their own. Mine were R350 from Shoe City. 
Hair and makeup: We did our own hair and makeup – this is what the bride wanted. She styled our hair for the day.
Unexpected costs: We ran out of mascara and foundation on the day and had to dash to the local Clicks! We ended up only paying for the mascara (the sales assistant gave us the foundation at no cost when she heard we were a bridal party). 
Total spend: R1 200

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