When presented with the question of whether or not you will be a bridesmaid, chances are you jumped at the chance without a second thought. It’s a lovely thing to do for someone you care about - and a way of knowing you are going to be in their lives (via their wedding pictures at least) forevermore.
Then, the reality begins to set in.
Maybe you’ll be lucky. You’ll get a charming bride who is a pleasure to be a bridesmaid for; the exact opposite to the horror stereotype of the bridezilla who tries to control everything. You won’t have to go through seeing a friend transform from a normal woman to a hard-to-deal with nightmare.
On the other hand… it might happen. Few brides go full-on unreasonable, but you can find there were a few caveats attached when you accepted that proposal. While your acceptance isn’t going to last for the rest of your life, the question of the impact on your finances might begin to feel like it is…
Who Pays For What?
Firstly, don’t use your knowledge of the bride’s financial situation as a guide to whether or not you will be expected to pay for your outfit. There are millionaire brides who will insist the bridesmaid buys her own (“well I’m not getting much use out of it, am I? And she can re-wear it!”) and the penniless brides who insist on burdening the cost (“it’s for my wedding, of course I should pay for it…”).
It’s therefore important to raise the issue of what you’ll be expected to pay for as soon as is polite after you have accepted. If you don’t have an issue with paying for your own outfit then this isn’t a problem. It’s also not a problem, generally, if you like the outfit you’ll be wearing and you genuinely can get a second or third wear out of it.
But what if you’re expected to pay for something you don’t like and would never re-wear? That’s where it gets trickier. Generally, something has to give here: either you get a say in the outfit or the bride contributes a portion of the cost. Catch your friend in a good moment and explain this as reasonably as possible.
And Everything Else…
One of the downsides of being in the wedding party is that, if finances for the wedding are running tight, you are going to be amongst the first called for a top-up loan.
This can be managed by making a contribution in lieu of a gift. If you want to hire a wedding car, help with the floral arrangements, shoulder the burden of the hen party expenses, or provide favors then that’s a completely sensible way of doing it - you can help out without having to worry about what makes a good wedding gift.
However, if you’re just being asked for a blank sum of money that doesn’t have an intended, specific purpose… then be careful. You could find yourself wandering through the ceremony and reception, noticing what you consider to be superfluous spending and wondering why you had to make a loan for that. If you want to help financially do so, but ask what it’s going to be spent on - just like you would with any other loan.