Budgeting | Life | Personal Finance | Personal Stories | Article
The Wedding Hasn’t Happened and I’ve Already Spent RM2,000 as the Maid of Honour: The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid
by Ooi May Sim | 15 Dec 2022 | 6 mins read
It’s always a joyous occasion when a close friend announces that she’s getting married. And the excitement goes up a notch if she asks you to be one of her bridesmaids at her union with her life partner. After all, she is asking you to be a part of one of the most important occasions in her life.
However, being a bridesmaid is not all fun and games. Weddings are big events that involve a lot of planning, and as a bridesmaid, you are expected to help. On top of that, bridesmaid duties these days typically involve planning a bridal shower or hen’s party, which is a lot of work and can be stressful.
And then there’s the financial aspect to being a bridesmaid. This is something that most people only realise they are undertaking when they become a bridesmaid for the first time: there will be many expenses that will have to come from your own pocket.
So before taking the plunge and saying, “I do”, you’ll want to be well-informed to prepare yourself for the duties and expenses that lie ahead.
Being a bridesmaid can be expensive
The wedding hasn’t even taken place yet, and already, Tira, 28, has spent close to RM2,000 for her cousin’s wedding, which is happening in February.
She had to custom-make a dress in specific colours to follow the theme of the wedding, which cost her RM850, including a matching tudung.
Pauline, who played bridesmaid twice last year, has also spent a portion of her savings on weddings. She remembers spending RM150 to make a bridesmaid dress for one wedding (her friend gave her the cloth, so she only had to pay for the workmanship). Thankfully for her wallet, she managed to use one of her existing dresses for the other wedding.
And the expenses don’t stop there. Tira shares that she has paid RM100 to book a hotel room near the venue as “I have to be there early in the morning” as part of her maid of honour duties and forked out RM550 for a make-up artist on the wedding day itself.
In the lead up to the main event, Tira and the bridal party, which includes five other bridesmaids, has planned a bachelorette party for the bride at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
“I’ve booked a hotel suite and we’ve ordered cake, balloons, a wedding sash, decorations, and made custom t-shirts for all of us,” she says.
Each of them paid for a separate item because some of the bridesmaids are not working or are still studying, shares Tira. For her, she took on the hotel room bill of RM420.
On top of that, the bridal party has pooled together money for a pampering session for the bride that includes eyelash extensions, manicure, pedicure and waxing. The total cost for this is RM460 and although it is split six ways, it still works out to RM77 per person.
Pauline, on the other hand, spent RM1,500 in total on a bachelorette trip to Langkawi. “This covered our plane tickets, hotel room, food, and activities for three days. We split the bride’s share among ourselves (the bridesmaids),” says the 36-year-old.
When asked on whether they’ve bought or plan to buy a wedding gift, Pauline revealed that she gave her friend a RM500 angpow, while Tira says she is planning to get the couple something from their gift list; either a vacuum cleaner or an air fryer.
“I did some research and found a nice vacuum cleaner that costs RM297, and an air fryer selling for RM250. I’m not sure which I’ll buy. Maybe, I’ll wait for other people to pick first, then I will buy an item that is left on the list,” she says.
Can you afford to be a bridesmaid?
Fortunately, both Tira and Pauline were not caught off guard by these bridesmaid expenses.
As Pauline puts it: “When a bride asks me to be her bridesmaid, I know I’ll need to spend”. She estimates that she spends around RM800 (RM500 for the bridal shower and RM300 as angpow) for someone she isn’t very close to, but is willing to fork out RM2,000 for really close friends.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience. As a friend, it is my wish to make the occasion special for her, before she adjourns to the next phase of her life,” she says.
Tira, who has been a bridesmaid for over 10 times now (her maiden experience was for her eldest cousin’s wedding when she was 12), shares the same sentiments.
How much I spend depends on my relationship with the bride, she says.
“It is fine with some people. When I was 20, I was the maid of honour at my best friend’s wedding. I was studying and working part-time at Starbucks then, but I didn’t mind doing extra shifts to make more money [to pay for gifts and the bridal shower].
“But if it is for someone I am not very close to, I don’t feel the need to [spend a lot],” says Tira.
Turning down the proposal
While we all want to be there for our friends, the financial and time commitment that is expected from a bridesmaid might not be something that is within your budget.
“These days, there are so many functions (leading up) to the wedding itself,” says Tira, who adds that every wedding function has a theme of its own.
“If the theme is Arabian Nights and you don’t follow it, you are (seen as) not sporting,” she says.
To prevent any misunderstandings and spending more than you had budgeted, Tira advises having an open conversation with the bride and bridesmaids to outline all the plans and activities that have been lined up and to find out what everyone’s expectations are.
“You should communicate with the bride and bridesmaids about what is okay and what is not okay (with you), because everyone has a different budget. This should be a common practice.
“Also, you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend or attend any functions you are not comfortable with,” she says.
Pauline adds that you shouldn’t force yourself to please the bride. “Only do what your budget allows and only pay for what you are comfortable with. If something is out of your budget, turn it down respectfully.
“This is so it is not only the bride who enjoys the occasion; you get to enjoy the occasion too,” she says.