The price of being in a bridal party is often underestimated. From purchasing your attire and a gift to attending all the events and outings, expenses can rack up quick especially for a bridesmaid.
When I started planning my wedding last year, I knew that I would have a ton of bridesmaids and didn’t want my wedding to be a financial burden on them. I know that it’s my big day, but I didn’t want to require my friends and family to spend a ridiculous amount of money in order to support me since I wasn’t even trying to spend a ridiculous amount of money on myself either.
So far, we’ve been taking the affordable route with almost everything involving my bridesmaids. They chose a dress online from Amazon for only $40 and we’re planning on using a Groupon for my bachelorette party.
The next big expense is the bridal shower. At first, I decided to skip the bridal shower altogether so we could all save money and avoid the extra planning. Then, my mom insisted and I gave in and decided I should milk this.
Who doesn’t want a fun bridal event with gifts, delicious food, fun games, and good friends? The only downside to a bridal shower is figuring out who is going to pay for it and how much it will cost.
So Who Typically Pays for a Bridal Shower?
This was my big question. I think the answer really depends on your family tradition and what type of wedding you are having. Since I’m paying for most of my wedding, I didn’t want to be the person to pay for the shower as well. Since my matron of honor will be out of town for the actual event, my mom and future mother-in-law stepped up to host my shower which was super nice and much appreciated.
In reality, anyone can choose to throw you a wedding shower and there’s no strict tradition (unless you have a cultural tradition) that says only one specific person can do it. If you are waiting around for someone to plan your shower, you may not get the response you are looking for so it’s best to be open minded and flexible.
I’m sure I’ll pitch in and help with my shower, but it’s pretty last minute so I’m not looking for anything spectacular. If I was planning it myself, you know I’d make it frugal and fabulous. If you’re trying to plan an upcoming wedding shower, here are some easy ways to make it affordable.
Host Your Event at Someone’s House
This is one of the easiest ways to save. Unless you have a very large group, don’t waste money trying to rent out a big venue or conference room. Save that for the wedding and reception. If no one volunteers to host at first, start by asking whoever has the biggest space and the best location.
Location Cost: Free
Send an Evite
I’m sure you all know how I feel about invitations these days. There’s usually no need to waste the paper sending out invites that people will eventually lose, throw in the trash, or possibly not even look at in detail. Online invites are the way to go as long as your guests have internet access and know how to use the computer.
I’d recommend sending out free decorated evites and following up with a text to make sure everyone received an email or even posting an event on Facebook in a private group if that will reach people better. Even though Facebook can be a huge time suck at times, a lot of people use it and it’s a great tool for hosting events because you can see when each guest has viewed the event information and they can RSVP easily to confirm their attendance.
Invite Cost: Free
Search for Games Online
If you own a few games already or have some free activities in mind that are great for groups+, you may be able to get away without spending much money on games. You can search online for popular bridal shower games to play and print off any instructions you may need.
You can also ask each guest to contribute a game idea if they are interested to keep everyone entertained. Popular fun and free games include: charades, trivia about the bride-to-be, 3 truths and a lie (married version), toilet paper wedding dress design contest (however, I consider this idea to be somewhat of a waste depending on how much toilet paper you’ll need).
You can also skip the trinkets as prizes and just allow the winner bragging rights.
Games Cost: Free or under $10
Make a Signature Drink and BYOB
If you want to do away with providing alcohol altogether you can and save quite a bit of money. It not, you can combat the cost of alcohol by making a signature drink that everyone can enjoy and let guests know they can BYOB if they have a specific drink preference. It’s hard to accommodate everyone’s drink preference, so don’t try to. You can grab a bottle of wine or look up a cocktail recipe to prepare online.
Alcohol Cost: $0 – $40
Organize a Potluck
The best way to feed everyone is to go potluck style. If you are planning the event with a few others, you can split up items on the menu amongst yourselves or you can involve all the guests and ask them to bring a small dish to pass, drinks, or eating utensils and paper ware. It might be fun to ask everyone to bring their favorite dish along with the recipe to share with bride in order to put together one big cookbook or cherished meals.
Food will no doubt be your largest expense depending on how many guests you’ll have. In addition to splitting this responsibility, you can cut corners by shopping the sales at your local grocery store and purchasing ingredients instead of ready-made food. Some caterers have a high minimum limit as to how much you need to spend in order to place an order.
Food Cost: $50 – $100
Skip Fancy Bakeries
Avoid fancy bakeries when planning a wedding shower on a budget. Spending hundreds of dollars on cake for a small get-together is just not worth it. Instead, if you bake or know someone who does, consider making homemade desserts like brownies, cookies, and cupcakes which are super cheap when you purchase the box mix at grocery stores.
Even purchasing a sheet cake at the grocery store will probably be cheaper than a gourmet bakery if you are short on time. Just remember not to go overboard. If purchase or make too much and guests don’t eat it all, you’ll be left with a ton of leftovers that could go to waste.
Dessert Cost: $20-$30
Shop at the Dollar Store for Decorations
The local dollar store should be your first stop for decorations. Fancy decor looks great, but you may never use it again. Balloons, table clothes, plates, bowls, banners etc. can all be found at the dollar store in a variety of colors. You also might luck out if you check the clearance section at Party City for some of the items on your list.
Decorations Cost: $25
As you can see, wedding showers don’t have to break the bank. If I plan one start to finish one day, the goal would be to keep everything around $200 total and allow others to pitch in to bring my personal out of pocket costs down even more.
At the end of the day, seeing friends and loved ones and having a great time should be your ultimate goal, not spending a lot of money to impress impress everyone and enhance the experience so don’t feel bad about cutting any corners.
More From My Frugal Wedding Series:
If you’d like more specific tips and strategies to help you save money on your big day without sacrificing your values, I recently released a 50-page digital guide called Save Thousands on Your Dream Wedding and you can learn more about it here. My guide includes real money-saving strategies, resources you can utilize when shopping for even the tiniest details, the strategy I used to go on a $400 week-long honeymoon and more!
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