Now that you know how much it costs to be in a wedding, you're probably a little scared - and rightfully so!  It's certainly a huge undertaking.  But there are some tips and tricks to try and make the whole adventure a lot more affordable.

1. Be honest
Before you agree to anything, you need to be honest with yourself, with the bride and with the rest of the bridal party.  Be honest with yourself by checking your bank balance (I know, it's scary) and thinking ahead to how much disposable income you really have.  Some wedding expenses cannot be hacked so you need to know if you can afford it.  A wedding, especially one that isn't yours, is not something to go in debt over. Next, be honest with the bride.  As soon as possible, speak with her about your monetary concerns.  She is, first and foremost, your friend and (probably) doesn't want you to experience any undue financial strain. It's better to pull out of the wedding and keep your friendship in tact than to break the bank and resent your friend forever.  Lastly, speak with the bridal party. Let them know you are concerned about the budget so that you can all keep cost-saving ideas top of mind.

2. Gifts
Obviously the cheapest way to save money on the gifts (yes, gifts plural because we have gifts for the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette and wedding) is to not give a gift at all. But most people like to give a little something.  If you're really strapped for cash a nice sentiment in a handmade card can go a long way. Likewise, you could try to DIY something if you're crafty or gift a memory (e.g. an old photo of you and the bride in a new frame). You could also go in on a bigger gift with the rest of the bridal party so everyone saves a little money. 

3. Parties
If you're unable to contribute financially to the pre-wedding fetes, offer to contribute in time, skill and advice. Maybe you can't afford to purchase the drinks for bachelorette party but you can design the bar crawl scavenger hunt or make the "bride to be" sash.  Look for ways you can help without utilizing your wallet and ask the bride/bridal party if you're stuck for ideas.

4. Travel
The best way to save money on travel is to search for deals and book as far ahead as possible. This is usually pretty easy for weddings as the date and location are often set months and months in advance. This gives you lots of time to scour the internet for deals and sign up for loyalty programs. For example, I was able to find a cross-country flight for $400 (usually $600-800).  As well, many weddings will have discount codes for nearby hotels which you may be able to utilize; I stayed at a 4-star hotel for only $150.  And if you're travelling solo, see if you can bunk with anyone who lives nearby or maybe share a room (and split the cost) with a fellow member of the bridal party. 

5. Shoes, Mani/Pedi, etc.
There are lots of little costs that pop up last minute when you're in a wedding but if you plan ahead, these don't have to break the bank. Get an idea from the bride early on about what she wants you to wear for footwear and accessories so you can start looking. I was able to get some of my stuff from H&M for under $20.  And if you're planning on any beauty services, such as a mani/pedi or haircut, check out Groupon for some great local savings.

6. Hair & Makeup
It's hard to hack this one as many brides will be bringing in hair and makeup artists with a set price for the whole group.  However, if you are worried about costs here, offer to help the bride out by finding artists at a cheaper price point (maybe you have a family friend or beauty school students).  Or, if you're skilled at hair or makeup yourself, you may be able to opt out of one or both services and just DIY. 

Don't hack: dress & alterations
Unfortunately, there aren't too many options when it comes to saving money on the dress and alterations.  You can pull a Kristin Wiig (from the comedy Bridesmaids) and continually suggest the cheapest option at the dress store ("it has pockets!") but at the end of the day, the bride will choose the dress and you will just have to go with it.  I do recommend doing your homework and seeking out an alterations place that is not outrageously overpriced but finding quality work is most important.  While you might only wear the dress for one day, it's definitely a day where you don't want anything tearing or falling apart. 

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How did you save money when you were a bridesmaid? Let me know! And check out part one: Adding It Up: What It Costs To Be In A Wedding, if you haven't already!