Color of Money: Your maid of honor is not made of cash

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- For many people, being part of a wedding party can strain their savings, not to mention their relationship with the couple.

For one New York woman, the cost for her family to participate in her sister-in-law's nuptials several years ago was a four-figure commitment.

She, her husband (the bride's brother) and their two teenage daughters were all in the wedding. And the expenses just kept mounting.

There was the matron-of-honor outfit for her and bridesmaid gowns for the girls. They all had to buy shoes and get their hair and nails done. There were the tux and shoes for her husband. She paid 50% of the cost of the bachelorette party, and her husband covered 33% of the bachelor party. The couple also hosted and paid for the engagement party. And as if that weren't enough, they still gave the bride and groom a cash gift.

Total outlay: $4,500.

At least they didn't go into debt.


"We were able to spread out the different costs over the year between the engagement party and the actual wedding," Maria wrote to me. "Everything we did, we did pay for in real time, by making other sacrifices. For example, the month of the deposit on the two bridesmaids' dresses, the matron-of-honor dress and the shoes meant no eating out, no movies, no bowling that month."

All that money, and the marriage lasted just three years.

One Washington woman shared the costs of participating in two weddings in the last five years.

Wedding No. 1: Airfare, hotel, makeup, hair, dress and bachelorette/bridal shower: $1,000. "I never considered declining being part of the wedding. But I started to really pay attention to my budget and what I needed to do to get out of some debt. And I thought, holy crap, I don't know that I feel that great about spending all this money."


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