smart spending

Keep it simple for the wedding party

Highlights
  • Let the bridal party know that attendance at extra events is optional.
  • Check out sample sales and department stores for bridesmaid dresses.
  • Send someone to pick up the attendants as they arrive at the airport.

Wedding planning can be more about budgets and bills than brides and grooms, especially if you're planning a frugal event.

But paying close attention to expense details will be worth it in the end -- you'll throw a great party that doesn't sink you in debt. While you're hunting down good deals for yourself, keep your wedding party in mind. The less expensive the wedding is for them, the more they'll enjoy the experience -- especially if your attendants are in different financial situations.

"What it comes down to is the bride relaxing her expectations of what she thinks will happen before, during and after the wedding, because every expectation comes with a price tag," says Leah Ingram, author of "Tie the Knot on a Shoestring" and of the Suddenly Frugal Blog. "If you're dealing with people who have been laid off or are in financial distress, it's really unfair to lay all of this cash guilt on them just to be in your wedding."

Follow these four easy ways to cut down your wedding party's bills.

Plan simple events

Let your bridal party know upfront that you don't expect lavish affairs for the bridal shower and bachelor and bachelorette parties, says Kia Martinson-Wenzel, owner of Estoccasions, provider of event planning.

"Tell them you want to spend time with them and have fun, but that nobody needs to go crazy or have to live paycheck to paycheck because of your wedding," she says.

Let them know attendance at extra events is optional, especially if members of your bridal party live in other areas of the country.

You can also cluster events on the same weekend, which will not only save your parties money on travel, but also time. "Plan a shower during the day, and that evening go into the bachelorette party," says Martinson-Wenzel.

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Frugal wedding attire for bridesmaids

Skip the matching wedding party dresses custom ordered from a bridal boutique. Instead, choose something that works in the wedding and the real world.

"Check out department stores. They have a lot of great party dresses that could be bridesmaid dresses," says Martinson-Wenzel. She's had clients pick dresses from Macy's, Nordstrom, even Target.

Livia King Blackburne, a graduate student at MIT, ordered dresses for her bridal party from J.C. Penney. "It was cheaper and faster, and if the dresses didn't fit, they just went to the local store and exchanged it," she says.

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