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How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget: Bridal Party Customs

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How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget: Bridal Party Customs

A budget wedding sometimes plays fast and loose with convention and customs. Which is probably a good thing because so many wedding customs are becoming transparently about making vendors money instead of actually accomplishing anything else. Bridal party customs are no different. Let’s go over a few of the most popular customs and see what can be done about them when the reality is you’re on a budget.

How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget: Bridal Party Customs

Asking People to Be in Your Bridal Party

Imagine my surprise in 2010 when I started searching for bridesmaids dresses after asking all of my friends to stand up with me, only to be informed my Facebook group text was the height of tacky. Instead, I was told I should have mailed individualized collections of customized items, in the wedding colors no less, to each future maid to look through, until they arrived at my handwritten card asking them to be my bridesmaid. Because without a #TeamBride thermos, who would really want to be a bridesmaid anyway?

Trust me on this: Facebook messages are fine.

Paying over $30 per person to send bridal party boxes to ask them to be in the party is generally going to rank entirely too expensive for a budget wedding. Also, no one really needs the items in these boxes or handwritten cards on special stock to communicate that you want them to be in your bridal party. Besides, your closest friends pretty much already know who is in your bridal party before you’re even engaged.

How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget: Bridal Party Customs

Throwing a Bridal Shower

I once heard that the bridal shower was invented when a wealth woman wanted to marry a lower-class man. Her father threatened to withhold her dowry if she didn’t marry someone he approved of. So the young woman’s friends and relatives showered her with gifts in order to replace the dowry that was being withheld so she could indeed marry the man she loved. The bridal shower’s supposed origin? 16th century Holland.

These days, the bridal shower is thrown by (and paid for) a person other than the bride. Invited guests, usually all women and girls, all of whom should be invited to the wedding itself, bring presents for the bride. The party plays games, sits through present opening, and has refreshments. It’s your basic bridal shower.

One thing you have to keep in mind while moving through wedding planning is that although you are spending money on the wedding, your bridal party will be expected to pony up some cash for various activities, including the shower, a wedding look, and possibly hair and makeup on the big day. This can all add up and while you are budgeting for your wedding, it’s unfair to expect your maids to throw down hundreds of dollars on their various obligations. It’s completely possible to do all these wedding events without breaking the bank. Although the bride is generally not part of the bridal shower planning, there’s nothing wrong with assuring your maids that their efforts are appreciated and they should definitely not spend too much money on shower.

How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget: Bridal Party Customs

The Bachelorette Party

Mainly associated with strippers and hijinx (also did Nick Lachey really cheat on Jessica Simpson at a bachelor party?) this custom is a chance for the people getting married to let loose and enjoy one more wild night before settling down.

Again, this party, while fun, doesn’t have to be a trip to Vegas for all of the wedding party, entrance into an exclusive club, and so much alcohol Keith Richards would blush. In fact, if partying and strippers aren’t your thing, do something else the night before your wedding. 

You could opt for a quiet dinner, a stargazing event, anything that catches your eye. There are simply so many things to do in the world, if your dreams don’t involve oily strippers, don’t include them! Talk to your bridesmaids about what you want for your bachelorette party, or even if you even want to have one. 

If you are a party animal and just want to dance and drink the night away, be sure your maids plan the party for a time that’s not the night before the wedding. Being dehydrated and poorly rested is a bad start to your wedding day, which will often prove to be physically and emotionally exhausting.

How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget: Bridal Party Customs

Wedding Day Duties

You might wonder, what exactly does the wedding party do? Besides sometimes serving as witness to the marriage, history is full of ancient examples of how the bridal party came together. I once read that bridesmaids were traditionally friends and relatives of the bride who all dressed in the same attire and wore veils in order to confuse anyone who might attempt to kidnap the real bride. I’ve also heard that bridesmaids did the same thing for evil spirits who might want to curse the bride on her wedding day.

Some early traditions for groomsmen are traced back to their title as Bride’s Knights. Meaning they had to protect the bride and her chastity. Which might have been because they’re the ones who kidnapped her to begin with.

Modern wedding day duties usually include standing up (literally, in most American weddings) with the happy couple and the maid/matron of honor often holds the bride’s bouquet during events like the exchange of the rings and vow reciting. The bridal party is often sat at the head table with the newlyweds during the reception. Although the head table is falling out of favor for the sweetheart table where the just the couple sit.

Groomsmen and bridesmaids are also traditionally gifted a small token of appreciation from the bride and groom for all of their efforts during the wedding planning and execution. These gifts can range from small personalized everyday items, to knick knacks, to extravagant displays. 

How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget: Bridal Party Customs

How Can I Keep My Budget Down When It Comes to the Bridal Party?

The most effective way is to keep the bridal party limited to just those special people who you want to be with you on your wedding day. Having a 14-person strong bridal party will cost more money when it comes to gifts and cost each individual a lot of money when it comes to attire and pre-wedding events. Also, if your guest list is small, you don’t want the bridal party to out number the guests.

Keep in mind there are other wedding duties that will need to be attended to if someone not in the bridal party really wants to help. They could be an usher or hand out programs or help guests find their seats or help with the gift table or guestbook.

Most of all, remember that weddings can be expensive for people other than the bride and groom and selecting $300 bridesmaid gowns and $250 tuxedos for your bridal party, on top of their other obligations, could put a financial strain on your wedding party. You should know your attendants best, so work with them on how you want to move forward with wedding plans. No one should go into debt their own wedding, let alone someone else’s. 

It’s a common idea that the bride gets everything she wants on her wedding day, no matter who it inconveniences, but honestly, this attitude is as welcome as evil spirits. You ask your friends and family to stand up with you on your wedding day and support your union. They deserve respect and consideration for doing this. For a budget wedding, mind everyone’s budget.

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