As a teenager, I had this fantasy: Me + my ninth grade Spanish partner, Thomas + our wedding = best day ever.
There was a big white dress, an all-night dance party, and midnight fireworks (clearly, my daydreams weren’t on a budget). But no bridesmaids. Ever.
My actual big day—February 16, 2019—also didn’t include any bridesmaids (or Thomas; sorry, Thomas!). And I don’t regret it. In fact, that’s probably the best decision I made (don’t tell my husband).
Some cold hard facts: The average cost of being in a wedding party has ballooned to $1,200. And a lot of people are having to shell out that kind of cash—one bride recently went viral for having 34 ride-or-dies by her side. THIRTY. FREAKING. FOUR. I’ll do the math for you: That’s $40,800 spent on gifts, party swag (penis straws cost money, guys), travel, and clothes.
And then there’s the added burden of all your free time being wrapped up in someone else’s big day or dealing with the bride’s random friend who just won’t pay for their share of the bachelorette—or maybe worse, forces you to drop hundos because she ordered 10,000 drinks when everyone else had two and you know you’re all gonna have to split the bill evenly. (Hi, that should be a crime.)
I’m also super aware of how terrible the whole situation can be because I co-run the Instagram account @HeyLadiesBook, where we post nightmarish wedding stories, many of the bridesmaid variety. Like, did you know someone recently asked their ‘maids to wear dresses that look like vulvas? It’s true, look it up!
After watching so many friends go through this for other couples, I knew I’d rather do the whole thing solo than ask them to do the same for me.
The average cost of being in a wedding party is now $1,200!
Luckily, my people were low-key thrilled. My friend Karyne literally laughed in my face when I asked if she was sad she wasn’t a bridesmaid. “It’s way more fun to celebrate from the cheap seats,” she said. And TBH, who’s able to chow down at cocktail hour when they’re given random tasks like “entertain my great aunt” or “set up all 152 place cards, please.” Not the women in matching dresses, that’s for sure.
Brides, listen: You can still ask your friends to do all the pre-wedding things. I had my friend Christine take me thrifting for the candlesticks we used at my ceremony, and we spent an evening making dance-floor decor. Another friend, Lora, didn’t have bridesmaids but invited her BFFs to stop by her bridal suite for lunch the day of. A casual dream for everyone involved—no extra $1,200 required.
Bridesmaid horror stories
“My aunt passed away right before my (former) best friend’s bachelorette party. I went, but she told me she didn’t like how quiet I was.”
“I was the MOH in a friend’s wedding, and when we got to the dance floor, we found out that the bride’s dress had a bustle that didn’t work. I borrowed scissors from the caterers and cut off her tulle train! Brilliant or sabotage?”
“My friend, the bride, was so stressed that she snapped at a bridesmaid who said she was uncomfortable wearing so much makeup. The bridesmaid cried. Then the bride cried. I wanted to cry…for myself.”
“I was in a wedding where the bride assigned us dresses ‘by body type’….I ended up in a shift dress that looked like a box.”
“I was a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding. During my speech, I backed up into a row of candles and nearly lit myself on fire. I don’t think anyone remembers a word I said.”
“I was a maid of honor at a wedding with a cash bar, which was fine because the bride didn’t want anyone in her bridal party to drink! She actually told the bartenders not to serve us. All in all, it was an expensive and joyless event.
“I was getting ready to walk down the aisle for my friend and joked about where to hold the bouquet. ‘Over the vagines!’ I said, in a stage whisper (I’d had some champs, okay?). The groom’s conservative parents were appalled.”