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Quick Guide to a Maid of Honor Budget

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Ready to really look at your maid of honor budget? I have to warn you, it’s going to be scary. You might not like what you see. Let me go ahead and tell you now, the average amount of money a maid of honor spends on a wedding is a little over $2000. Yep. $2000 and you aren’t even the one walking down the aisle. Kind of a bummer, right? It’s okay though. I’ve got this all figured out for you. A while back I mentioned I’d been a maid of honor three times already and had two more times upcoming. Well, those two upcoming weddings have both been canceled (one for a happy reason, one not, if you’re nosy), but I was already planning the parties so I might as well share what I know.

You may have noticed that in general I’m less concerned with cost than I am with time. That’s not because I’m not good at budgeting. My husband and I met working at a bank. I’ve also worked in financial aid, and I’m currently a bookkeeper, so I know where my money goes. I just get really, really frustrated when people ask for my help getting their budgets together and then  completely ignore me. But, I figure in this case I will never know if you stick to your maid of honor budget or not. So I will pretend you all walk away from this not spending a dime more than you meant to. Hooray! Now let’s get to everyone’s favorite topic: math.

Know Your Responsibilities

Okay, MOHs. Have you already said yes? Did you do so before or after checking on what all your bride expected? This is super important for your maid of honor budget, and if you got really swept up in the moment and said yes right away, you might be in trouble. Let’s get a list going. You’ve got to buy your dress, any accessories the bride wants to force upon you, pay for your hair and makeup if she demands it, throw a bridal shower, travel if it’s out of town, buy gifts for both the shower and the wedding, and, of course, throw the bachelorette party. That’s a lot, right? Less than the men spend. Their average is only about $1300. Still crazy, but not as high as it is for the ladies.

Maid of Honor Budget

I have attached a worksheet  above to help you get started. Go ahead and look at it. The first column is the average spent per item, not anything to do with your actual maid of honor budget. But, the unfortunate thing is your bride isn’t going to know how much she wants you to spend on a lot of this stuff up front. She should know if she’s having a destination wedding (you’ll obviously know if you live in different places), and she’ll probably already have thought about dresses and bachelorette parties, but she’s not going to hand you a guide to all of it, unless she’s Bridezilla, in which case you should run now. So, when you first start planning, I would estimate high on the things you don’t control, like the dress. Then pick the total you want to spend and spread it out from there.

Start with a General Maid of Honor Budget

Did you pick your total? Good. I’m not going to give you a specific number here because I don’t know your budget. You might be able to throw away $5,000 for funsies, but maybe you’ve got $500 max. You have to decide what works best for you and your wallet. Now, if you only have $500, you should make your bride aware of that right now. Seriously, right now, go call her. I forbid you to go into debt for the most important day of someone else’s life. Most likely your bride will either get you some help or agree to some money-saving items somewhere. I can’t help you if she doesn’t. I’ve never met an unreasonable bride. Seriously, I haven’t. I know they exist, but in my experience it’s always been more important to have the people we love around us than to have matching $300 wedding shoes.

Now that you’ve decided on a number, you can break it down. If you have to travel, add that in first. It’s non-negotiable for the wedding, so if you need flights check Google flights or Southwest to get an idea. I monitor flights all the time with Airfare Watchdog, and you could try that for a couple of weeks to see what you’re looking at, even if you aren’t ready to buy. I’ve been getting their alerts for years, and honestly, there’s not a lot of variance. Summer travel is more expensive. So are Fridays and Sundays. If you see a really good deal, you book it, and if not at least you know the cost. Gifts will run you at least $100. Whatever’s left, split between your bridal shower and bachelorette.

The Bridal Shower

Do you really have to throw a bridal shower? I don’t know. I didn’t throw one for my sister. It didn’t make sense to. She lived in California, I lived in Nevada, my parents lived in Tennessee, her in-laws lived in Arkansas, and the rest of our family was in North Carolina. It would have been a very small shower, so we skipped it. For one I did a combination shower/bachelorette. So I’ve actually only thrown one separate bridal shower. My own MOHs (yes, I had two) threw me a surprise one the weekend of my bachelorette party, but I never asked for one or expected it. I think this kind of depends on your age and your distance from family. Typically this is the thing moms want to go to, but young friends don’t care as much.

If you are throwing one,  you need to ask if the bride’s family will be helping you. If you’re the bride’s sister, it’s a good bet, but iffy otherwise. Some mother-of-the brides want their hand in everything, others would get annoyed if they had to participate. I wound up being able to use the MOTB’s house.  She cooked all the food, while I brought all the games and prizes. If it turns out you’re co-hosting or the family is splitting it with you, you can half your budget. If you’re on your own, it is what it is. You can DIY most things and cook on the cheap if you need to. But, if you’re printing out a bunch of games and using your own ink, it might be cheaper to buy them. Etsy has some, but you can get a bundle like this on Amazon.

The Bachelorette Party

You need to know as soon as possible – will you be traveling for the bachelorette party? If so, your maid of honor budget just exploded. The good news is you are not responsible for paying everyone’s travel costs. That would be insane. If none of the other bridesmaids can afford it, you shouldn’t be traveling. You can split the cost for things like gas, hotels, and meals. Unfortunately, you’re still going to be in charge of any decor, snacks for the party, games, and activity costs for both you and the bride. The other girls might offer to help and it’s fine if you take them up on it, but you shouldn’t expect it and you need to budget up front.

If you’re not traveling, you’ll likely have a bigger crew to entertain, but cut out the hotel costs. You’ll still need to come up with a transportation plan if you’re all drinking. If you’re going out on the town, it’s reasonable for the girls to pick up their own bar tabs. If you’re staying in, you’ll be expected to provide the libations and food. One other consideration is the ever so popular bachelorette party shirt. If your bride really wants them, I say get them, but you need to get that money up front from the other girls. Otherwise you might wind up with thirty shirts you don’t need. Also, you know I’m not a fan of decorating anyway, but the dollar store is more about bridal showers than bachelorette parties, so if you’re budget doesn’t allow, just skip it. But, don’t forget a sash for the bride.

Adding it up

Let’s check out that maid of honor budget worksheet again. We’ve got five columns. You don’t need to do anything with the first two. I used what I could find for the averages, but I did have to do a little bit of guesswork. Research showed the average total was $2062 and my guesswork gave me $2053, so we’re at least in the ballpark. One note, I put travel costs on bridal shower, but not bachelorette. If you have to travel for a bridal shower, you should plan for the bachelorette at the same time so you don’t pay for transport twice. If you’re traveling for the bachelorette but not the bridal shower, you can use the activities column to estimate your costs.

Okay, so now the important columns. For the third, you’re going to work backwards. You already picked your budget right? Go through and estimate your costs so that they add up to your budget.  It’s a good idea to estimate high on all the major purchases, like the dress and shoes. Then once you actually start buying things, you can use the fourth column. Once that’s somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 filled out, redo your estimates on the remaining items. If you managed to estimate high on all the first purchases, you can always up the budget for the parties or gifts. If you’d rather save your money and those parties seem to be staying within your maid of honor budget, you save money. Hooray!

 

 

Being a maid of honor can cost upwards of $2000, so it's important to start budgeting ASAP. This includes a worksheet to help you make sure you don't overspend on someone else's big day! #maidofhonor #MOH #budget #wedding #bridesmaid
3 Lessons for Bachel

Bachelorette Parties & Knowing Your Bride

I’ve been a maid of honor three times. Yep. Three times as not just a bridesmaid, but the maid of honor. You can bet I have some thoughts and opinions on bachelorette parties. I thought this would be a good time to write about them because I’m about to have my fourth. There’s a possible fifth in the works too, if my sister doesn’t decide to elope. Actually, I might throw her a bachelorette party anyway. They’re just so much fun. Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t as time crunched when I did the first three. I am slightly freaking out about how to find time for these new ones, but when the bride calls, you answer.

The girls I’m planning parties for could not be more different in personality. This is going to make these parties even more time-consuming than usual, and bachelorette parties are already no joke. Normally, my busy friends, I say host the way you want to host and throw the kind of party you want to throw. But, the bachelorette party is not normal. You have to know your bride, and you have to cater to her. There’s a reason four separate women have asked me to be their maid of honor, and it’s not because I’m the best friend they’ve ever had. It’s because I know how to throw a party.

Lesson 1: Bachelorette Parties are not about You

drinks for bachelorettes
Mojitos not your cup of tea? Too bad.

This should go without saying, but what does the bride want? I’ve thrown your typical Vegas bachelorette (just an FYI, I’m from Nevada – I don’t think it’s reasonable for everyone to go to Vegas and your bride shouldn’t either). But then, I’ve also thrown one at Disneyland. I’m currently thinking about one in Memphis, not because I particularly like Memphis, but because my sister loves jazz. Personally, I would have loved to have mine in Napa. I love wine and I was almost thirty when I got married. I didn’t need to do the whole matching T-shirt thing and go to nightclubs. But, that was exactly what we did.

So, there’s the first thing you need to think about. I would have enjoyed my bachelorette party much more if I’d been just a few years younger. I had moved away by that point, so I forgive my friends for not recognizing how much I’d calmed down.  It makes sense to consider age and personality when planning though. Is your bride still young and wild, even if you’re not? I know I’m about to throw one of the tamest bachelorette parties ever, because my sister hates people. She has approximately one friend who isn’t me. That’s not an exaggeration. On the other hand, I’m also about throw one of the wildest for my friend. Which reminds me…I have to travel across state lines to see her…Ug.

Lesson 2: Okay, so they are a LITTLE about you (and the guests)

scheduling bachelorette parties
Now look through twelve more of these and pick your date!

I have to find a babysitter who’s willing to cross state lines to watch me throw a party they won’t be invited to. That requires a little give on the bride’s part, don’t you think? Coordinating with other bridesmaids and guests to pick a date is fine, but the bride has to be willing to let us choose.  Since I’ll only be able to travel once, it will be a bridal shower/bachelorette.  This happens frequently when the maid of honor isn’t in the same city as the bride. If you’re in the same city, maybe you don’t need that kind of flexibility. For one friend in my city, I held two bachelorette parties and a separate bridal shower without being inconvenienced. So, think about the bride, but don’t be afraid to schedule it at a time that works for you and her friends, even if it’s not her ideal date.

I feel like some of you brides are about to go bridezilla on me, but if you’ve never been a maid of honor before, you should know it’s exhausting and expensive. If someone’s throwing up a whole bunch of time and money in your honor, you shouldn’t be too crazy about dates. Obviously you get to choose the wedding date; other than that, help us out! For my own bachelorette party, which was co-hosted by my best friend and sister, I had literally no say in the date. It was two months before my wedding, in the middle of summer, in Las Vegas, which by that point was completely across the country from me. Did I complain? No. It was the only way they could both get the time off.

Lesson 3: Enough about you, back to the bride!

In a perfect world, all maids of honors know exactly what their brides want. But, sometimes, they’re new to the club. Other times the bride may be hiding some secret desires she’s either embarrassed about or, for some reason, thought was obvious. My recommendation? Ask! I made a quick little survey you can have the bride fill out. I think it gets to the important questions, so you can start planning a little. It’s best to do this now, because girl, the bride doesn’t touch the budget. You need to do that yourself. We’re going to have to save budgeting for a future date, though, so you’re on the own for the moment!

Bachelorette Questionnaire

Okay, short-on-time readers who also have very important parties coming up, you have two tasks to get you stated. First, survey the bride. Next, start working out a schedule that’s going to work for you, your bride, and her other guests. If she throws a fit that she can’t pick the date, tell her her party budget just dropped $100 (kidding!). You should also get a good idea of how many will be on the guest list – you can do a great trip to Disneyland with a few people, but it’s going to be impossible to accommodate a giant group. Once you know those things, you can move on to the fun stuff…And the money stuff. We’ll talk about those soon!

 

Bachelorette parties should be all about the bride, not what you want to do! #bacheloretteparty #bachelorette #partyplanning #bridesmaids