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Should bridesmaids have to pay for themselves?

Kristen Henry and Sarah Bown
IT’S A QUESTION FOR THE AGES AND SOMETHING MANY A COUPLE STRESSES OVER.

Should your bride tribe pay their way in the lead up to the wedding? We asked two of our writers to weigh in for UNVEILED Issue One.

YES – KRISTEN HENRY

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Here’s the hard truth about being a bridesmaid: it will send you broke. Unless your bestie is Mariah Carey and her new squeeze James Packer is cool to throw you a bone and buy your customised Vera Wang dress, my experience tells me: ‘get ready to pay your own way, ladies’.

Don’t get me wrong; you’ll have a ball. 2016 was the year of the bridesmaid for me – by the time you read this I’ll have been a bridesmaid four times and preparing for another. I’d never been part of a bridal party until last year – be careful what you wish for!

It’s exciting. I will cherish the memories of getting ready with my friends before they said ‘I do’ or throwing them a Hen’s party that made them blush, forever. Hell, I even enjoyed following them to the bathroom all night to help them get in and out of those ginormous bridal gowns. Money can’t buy those memories and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

You’ll have a ball but no one tells you you’ll be eating rice for the next month. So let’s talk money as it’s often a tricky subject. Here are the hard and fast financial facts so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

As a B-Maid, I think it’s cool if you fork out for the wedding day ensemble. Fingers crossed it’s something you can wear again and a dress that’s priced within reason. Shoes and jewellery are usually your responsibility too. Again, if Bridezilla is starting to ask you to consider dresses pushing past $500, you need to bring her back down to earth because the dress is just the beginning.

Dress, shoes, jewellery, accommodation and gift are all on you, dear B-Maid. Let me tell you, it’s not an exercise that most can afford every weekend. Oh, and if you’re a nail and spray tan kinda woman like yours truly, you can add that to the bill too.

When it comes to hair and makeup, that’s where you hope your bride will step up and pay. They usually will – you’d expect they’d have a stylist on site for the day who will work their magic on the bride and bridesmaids so you all look slick. You’ll find that the bride foots this bill for another reason too; control. I know that sounds awful, but it’s true. This way she has creative control over the look of her wedding and presentation of her party.

So at the risk of sounding like my mother, I have some advice for bridesmaids-to-be. When accepting the honour of being a bridesmaid, knowing your financial obligation is key. Be sure you can fulfil your role without becoming resentful because trust me, it happens and it sucks. The bride is counting on her bridesmaids to help with planning, provide emotional support, as well as greet guests and work the dance floor. Sorry babe, if you’re in the bridal party, you’re working.

Is being a bridesmaid overwhelming? At times. Is it an expensive exercise? It’s cray cray. Would you reconsider? Never. The moments and memories you create will stay with you forever – just know what you’re getting yourself into.

Good luck!

NO – SARAH BOWN

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I’m Sarah and I’ve never been a bridesmaid. Very few of my close circle have gotten hitched and because of that, I’ve never had to answer the call. Or it’s my gal pals’ way of saying: ‘Sez, you’re just not bridesmaid material. But you’re, like, so funny, can you help me write my speech?’ #kissass

Although I can’t add “highly competent at holding the dress while bride pees” to my CV, I do still have opinions on the whole bridesmaid business.

One of those being bridesmaids should NOT have to pay for themselves.

You see friendship is a bank transaction. Before you say my soul has turned to ice and exited the building, hear me out.

You and your BFFs are constantly withdrawing from and depositing into your metaphorical friendship fund. Every kind word, generous act and attempts to stop you chatting up the drunk English guy at the bar, is recorded on a ledger somewhere in the magical land of friendship, by a miniature lavender unicorn.

Let’s recall the ways in which your bridesmaids have already made a significant deposit into that little fund called “your life”.

She paid you by not making fun of your invisible friend Stuart in Year Two and let you cheat off her maths test when you didn’t listen in class ’cause Stuart was telling you stories. Like the time he flew to Saturn and rode around on flying giraffes.

She paid you by letting you throw up in her Mimco clutch after one too many Irish car bombs on the infamous St Patrick’s night of ’05.

She paid you by co-conspiring in your plan to “accidentally” shave off your colleague Karly’s eyebrows because she got that promotion over you. (It was justified – she thought Europe was a country.)

She paid you by staying up all night when James broke your heart in Year 11. She bought ice cream. And a voodoo doll. The fact it more resembled your old librarian Mrs Thompson is somewhat irrelevant.

She paid you with comforting words when you lost your passport on the train out of Italy after a night with too much limoncello and not enough common sense. She agreed that of course it wasn’t your fault, Fabio did SEEM like a nice guy.

She paid you by accompanying you to your Nana’s funeral in the second year of Uni, even though it was right before exams. And didn’t once complain about getting cornered at the wake by your great Uncle Fred for 45 minutes.

So when the day comes to settle the bridesmaids’ bill, you tally up the goods. Dress, shoes, jewellery, makeup, hair, hen’s spa weekend. Total: $860 each. Times that by four and it’s looking a little steep. They won’t mind paying, right?

Let’s tally up the amount they have spent on you in the last 17 years of friendship. Late nights with no sleep, 35 coffees when you were hungover and those nine books you borrowed and will never return. Total: approx $158,945.

Girl, you should be paying THEM to be in the wedding.

All bridesmaids are thrilled to be there supporting you on your big day and only want the absolute best for your happily ever after. Since when did that not become enough?

Cost of you paying for your bridesmaids: $2500.

Extra hours worked to save up the money: 105.

Hours arguing with your fiancée about how you’re going to pay for the wedding: Four.

Having your BFFs stand up there proud as punch, bawling their eyes out and ruining their $89 makeup you just paid for? Priceless.

This article originally appeared as part in UNVEILED Issue One for Spring/Summer 2016. Read it now here.

Unveiled_Cover_LoriChicchini

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Kristen Henry is a Breakfast radio host for MIX106.3 and can be heard from 5.30am each weekday on “Kristen and Rod for Breakfast”. By night you might catch her on the telly for WIN TV Canberra, where she’s the Entertainment reporter. In her spare time, Kristen teaches dance to little boys and girls, loves to bake up a storm and is slightly addicted to Law and Order SVU. More about the Author

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Sarah Bown

Sarah is fresh off the plane to Canberra and quickly realising she's not in Kansas anymore. She's a writer and marketing professional by day and spends her free time reading way too much self-help literature followed up by too much Pinot Gris. Sarah spent 2015 working in Mongolia sharing her marketing and communications skills with local organisations. Yes it was her choice, yes they have internet and no it's not next to Syria. She's in Canberra to write more, exercise more, meditate more and then proceed to do Option D: none of the above. Sarah shares more newbie tips, general hilarity and plenty of things to read while procrastinating doing actual work at www.facebook.com/signedbysez. More about the Author

  • Claudia Chappe de Leonval

    I’ve been a maid of honour and a bridesmaid and in both situations, we shared costs.

    I personally will pay for all my bridesmaids if I choose to get married, but I don’t see the issue with forking out some money to be a bridesmaid either.

    I thoroughly enjoy giving friends gifts (thrills me when I find something they will love) and helping out where I can, and my friends were completely reasonable and we kept everything to a budget and still looked a million dollars. There are obviously limits, but usually if you’re that good of a friend to the person (I was very fortunate in my situations) you can discuss and ensure you’re on the same page.

    Besides, the two girls I have been a bridesmaid for will one day return the favour to me. I know this isn’t the situation for all girls, but I think you should be prepared to fork out some money (especially for a hens, and a bridal emergency kit!) as every moment is worth it.

  • lynn

    I’m a bit 50c each way on this one. I think the bridesmaids should pay some of the costs – hen night, shoes, gift for the couple but why oh why should you be forced to pay for some god awful dress in a colour you’d never wear?

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