How to plan a wedding without your bridal party going broke

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How to plan a wedding without your bridal party going broke

When I got engaged in 2016, I knew I didn’t want our best friends’ budgets to suffer as a result. I decided to get creative and keep costs as low as possible for my bridal party. Here’s what I learned: With a little bit of research and the ability to think outside the box, the costs for a bridal party member can significantly shrink.

It’s expensive to plan a wedding. It’s also expensive to attend one. Millennials spend an average of $1,532 per destination bachelor party and $1,106 per bachelorette, according to a study by The Knot, a wedding website, and that’s not even for their own wedding — it’s for their friends’ big days. The worst part? Even if the bride and groom plan to keep the party local, bachelor and bachelorette parties are only the beginning. With gifts, wedding day travel expenses, attire and lodging, most bridesmaids spend close to $1,200 per wedding.

As a result of careful and creative planning, most of our bridesmaids and groomsmen spent less than $400 each.

Here's how we made it happen.

Dresses: $60

Bridesmaid dresses can vary in price, but they typically cost between $100 and $300. To avoid the hefty price tag normally associated with bridesmaids attire, I got creative. I knew I wanted my bridesmaids in long, flowing dresses, but I also knew I didn’t feel comfortable asking my friends to pay $100 or more for a dress for my wedding. The solution? Amazon. I found the exact dresses I wanted on Amazon for a fraction of the price. I selected the color and had my bridesmaids choose the style. The dresses ranged from $40 to $100, and most of my bridesmaids selected dresses that rang in at $60. With free shipping and free returns, the process was simple and quick.

Genius tip: If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Amazon, experiment with bridesmaid dress rentals. Websites like Rent the Runway and Union Station offer dress rentals that start at $50.

Bachelorette Party: $75 to $250

Instead of hopping on a plane or partying for an entire weekend, I decided to keep the bachelorette local and short. Here’s what the day entailed and how much it cost each person: bottomless mimosa brunch ($25), poolside cabana at a local casino resort ($25), downtown dinner ($25). We didn’t splurge on a hotel room or rent a house for the weekend. Instead, we spent the day by the pool at a local casino. The best part? It had a lazy river, three pools and a delicious bottomless mimosa brunch. After the day ended, we drove home, got ready and went to our favorite local restaurant for dinner. It was the perfect end to a fun-filled day with my favorite people.

Three friends traveled from out of town. Only two of those friends had to get on a plane. The price of their flight was $100 round-trip. Once they arrived, they spent the night at our apartment to keep costs down.

Genius tip: Change your perspective and get creative. There’s a good chance brides and grooms from other cities in America travel to your city for their parties. Instead of daydreaming about an expensive and time-consuming trip to a new city, come up with locations for a local party. When I first thought of my bachelorette, I wanted to spend a weekend in Las Vegas, but once I got clear about the parts of Las Vegas I love — bottomless brunches, pool parties, lazy rivers and good food — I realized I didn't have to travel to a different state to experience them.

Registry gifts: $6 to $100

Wedding registries are fun to create. You walk around the store and scan items you like. The most exciting part? There’s no limit. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of putting together your wedding registry, but it’s more exciting to choose items you’ll actually use.

Before you make your registry and get caught up in the excitement of scanning items or clicking “add” on a website, look at what you already have in your home. When my fiance and I looked at what we had, we realized we needed to replace some basic items we had purchased when we were broke college students. We didn’t need super fancy skillets. We needed plates that weren’t chipped. But even if you do need or want expensive items, it’s important to have less expensive items on your registry as well. The cheapest item on our registry was also one of my favorites: a kitchen towel with a cat on it. The cost? $6.

Despite our best efforts, some wedding costs, like flights and lodging, couldn’t be lowered. Here’s the truth: If members of your wedding party have to travel for the wedding, it’s going to significantly increase their costs. Though we couldn’t help our out-of-town bridal party members secure lower plane tickets or hotel rates, it was nice to know we had done everything we could to be respectful of their time and money.

Image: jacoblund