{Money & Friendships} The Real Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

It starts with a question that leads to a ring, which ends up as a picture on Instagram, and is shared on Facebook. Yep, he asked and she said yes! Weeks later, you find a charming note in your mailbox asking you to stand beside her on the most important day of her life. You, my dear, are a chosen one… also known as a bridesmaid.The Real Cost of Being A Bridesmaid from Top Atlanta Blogger and Wedding Designer, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents Since 2010, I have been in seven weddings and I witnessed at least twenty of my girlfriends walk down the aisle toward wedded bliss. In fact, when the Mr. and I got married in 2015, we were the 13th wedding that year of our friend group.  Like many of you, I have taken off work and flown clear across the country in support of LOVE.  Too bad that the support of LOVE often comes at a hefty price tag. 

She Said Yes, But Should You?

It is truly an honor to be asked to be in someone’s wedding, but before you say “yes”, you need to understand what you are getting yourself into before you make that commitment. Just like in a romantic relationship, money can throw a major wrench into your friendship if you are not honest with yourself and the bride about your financial situation.  As a bridesmaid, I have paid for gowns, shoes, hair, mani/pedi, makeup packages, jewelry, liquor, plane tickets, hotels, car service, chipped in for engagement parties, hosted bridal showers, lingerie parties (apparently that is different from the bridal shower and the bachelorette party), oh yeah…bachelorette parties, bridal teas and even décor elements for the actual wedding. Nowadays, you have to add the matching bride tribe outfits for the bridal party photoshoot to the list of expenses you have to think about when saying yes. Did I even mention the wedding gift…eek? Once you accept the invitation to become a member of the bridal party, you are committing to this experience for richer or poorer.

I will admit, that years ago I declined the request to be in a friend’s wedding because the costs of being in the wedding would have been a strain on my finances.  That bride thankfully understood.  I often think, if we didn’t have that conversation and I participated in her bridal party, she could have very easily interpreted my reluctance to spend money as a lack of support and enthusiasm for her big day.  Not having that conversation would have cost me more than financial security, it could have cost me our friendship. 

How Much Does It Cost To Be A Bridesmaid?

Back in 2011, the Wedding Channel estimated the cost of being a bridesmaid averages around $1695.00.  Based on this estimate, I could have very well spent almost $12,000.00 on other people’s weddings.  Can you imagine what the average is now?  It always makes me wonder how Katherine Heigl’s character in 27 Dresses  could afford to be in 27 weddings, plus her own, on a personal assistant’s salary. To pay for my expenses as a bridesmaid, I used the envelope system before I even knew exactly what that meant. I set aside a certain amount of money each check for each bride.  

Brides, be nice to your bridesmaids…your “chosen ones”. They are the ones who are holding you down during one of the most beautiful and possibly stressful times of your life.  They do far more for you than you realize.  Bridesmaids, remember that your bride is a bride only once (fingers crossed) and she has a vision for her day. If you are both honest from the beginning, then you lessen the chance of unrealistic expectations from both sides.Bridal Party Costs


{Money & Relationships} 20 Hard Money Questions For Couples

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{Monday Motivation} Wisdom vs. Integrity

Wisdom

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{Money & Relationships} 5 Great Reasons to Have the “Money Talk” with Your Significant Other

You and your significant other have been together for a while. You have met the parents (and they like you…hopefully), you leave stuff at each other’s homes, and you’ve even claimed each other on Facebook! Sure, you have done all of the public things to show your significant other and the world that you care about your relationship but have you taken the necessary steps to reduce stress and drama in your relationship from a financial standpoint? I will be honest with you; having the money talk isn’t fun or comfortable, but it is enlightening and crucial to all serious relationships.

When to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about money?

KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING INTO

I bet you searched him on Google and scoped his Facebook page when you were first getting to know him. Outside of being curious, you wanted to protect yourself by getting a head start to any red flags– you wanted to figure out what you may be getting yourself into. No judgment, it’s smart and we all do it. If you protected yourself in the beginning, why wouldn’t you protect yourself now that things are getting serious?  Starting the conversation does not make you greedy or look like a gold digger.  In fact, it shows that you are looking at this relationship for the long-term.  Former Secret Service agent and Cosmo contributor,  Evy Pompouras’ gives advice about reading people in  any situation in an article for Cosmo and the same rings true when you have the conversation with your beaux.  Pompouras says, “don’t openly judge, even if you don’t like what they have to say.  When people feel your disapproval, they will filter themselves, hold back information, or shut down”.  Remember he had a life before he met you and his and your financial decisions up until that point will show that.  If you are ready to get serious about your relationship you should also be ready to get serious about your finances if you haven’t done so already.

FIND OUT EACH OTHERS SPENDING AND SAVING STYLE

This makes sense on so many levels.  This is not a situation where you are trying to figure out if he is a spender or a saver, but more so how he spends and how he saves.  This may be an eye-opening revelation for you as well since most people do not generally look at money in those terms.  Are you financially compatible?  Does your super saver style clash with his overspending?  

KNOW THINE SELF

 In the midst of “The Talk” you may start to learn things about yourself that you didn’t know before.  It is easier to see red flags in others than it is to see in ourselves.  You may find areas of yourself and your financial situation that need to be cleaned up… not for him or a relationship, but for your own financial security.  This is the time for you to take some responsibility for yourself, review your debts and assets, and come up with a personalized financial plan. 

HELPS YOU PLAN FOR A SHARED FUTURE

Let me first say that a shared future does not necessarily imply marriage.  A shared future looks like whatever you want it to look like as long as you two are in it together.  Some couples will move in together and figuring out who will pay what will become a part of your money talk.  Others may continue to live separately and your money talk for the future may include more social decisions.  How often will we go to restaurants, movies, concerts, on vacations?  Who will pay for what?  Or for those who see wedding bells in their future, well you should get in the habit of having weekly money talks and a review of how finances coming in and going out are affecting the household dynamic.  You don’t want to be the woman who hides shopping bags in the trunk of her car, but rather  woman who proudly shows off the goodies that she bought with financial confidence.

PREVENTIVE CARE FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP

If I told you that you could reduce the chance of burning yourself using a curling wand to create fabulous date night hair just by using the little black gloves that come with it, would you use them?  How about if  I showed you the hands of someone who burned themselves because they didn’t use a glove?  Would you be more likely to use a glove then?  Probably, even if it was just for a short time.  Well what if I told you that having the “money talk” and the subsequent follow-up talks with your significant other will reduce the chance of financial stress and lessen the riskof break up.  How about if I followed up stories about real relationships that burned because of money issues?  Would you have the talk?  Think about it like this, taking these steps becomes preventive care for your relationship.  Beyoncé said if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it.  I’m telling you if you like it then you should put the black gloves of your relationship on and have the talk!  Save your relationship before it needs saving.

So you now have an idea of what you are getting yourself into… remember this is just the start and you should have several follow-up conversations.  Don’t know how to start, check out these 5 questions you should ask TODAY!

What Are Your Reasons to Have the “Money Talk”?

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{Money & Relationships} Who Should Pay for the First Date?

You just met this guy. He appears to be as nice, intelligent, and handsome as your friend said he would be… and did I mention he is a gentleman too. After sort of getting to know each other as best you can over casual first date, the bill comes….Who Should Pay for the 1st Date

Who Picks Up the Check?

I have always adopted that paradigm that planning and paying for the first date is apart of the courting package. However, my parents didn’t raise a fool. Regardless of my expectation of the bill being taken care of, at least for the first few dates, I would never leave the house without cash tucked sweetly away in my clutch.  Offer to pay the tip at least by the third date and surprise him by planning and paying for a date on your own.  So for those of you who believe that the man should take care of the first date, does that include everything…valet tip to parking or does it end at the table? 

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{Friday Ramble} One Reason He Hasn’t Put A Ring On It!

The Ring Didn’t Mean A Thing!

She Makes CentsI wonder does former Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kim Zolciak, still think that after she got hers two years ago? In fact, he put a ring on it after she stopped living off someone else and started bringing in the big bucks from Bravo. My inspiration for this post, however hits a little closer to home as it comes from a girl talk with a girlfriend of mine…let’s call her “Christine” for anonymity sake. Christine and I were catching up the other day laughing at a prediction gone wrong. You see, at the beginning of last years, either she or I made the prediction that her boyfriend would pop the question in 2012. During our girl talk, she revealed that she asked her boyfriend the money and relationship questions discussed in the post 5 Financial Questions you Should Ask Your Significant Other Today to  open up lines of communication about money and their future as a couple.  Our conversation then led to people who lie about their finances to a significant other.
Sure, like Christine, you and your boyfriend could have talked about marriage, but that doesn’t mean he has been secretly studying up on Tacori, now does it? If being engaged in a certain period was a similar goal and that didn’t happen, let’s examine one major possibility… a.k.a. your financial situation.  While I am very open about my personal financial situation with you (SMC readers), my family, and the Mr., I know that everyone is not so comfortable talking about money. Many people were raised to think that frankly, discussions of money are just plain rude. Although I must agree with financial journalist, Jean Chatzy, who advised in article for the Winter 2013 edition of Martha Stewart Weddings that you should “never STOP talking about money”. People list money as the top reason they fight and they confess hiding financial information from their spouse, but if you are planning on a successful marriage and not just a wedding, then you should be able to talk about anything- especially money!

Things to Consider:

her money piggy bank

Know You Before He Can Know You.  This is the epitome of money and relationship advice.  On the financial side, you can’t share accurate information about your finances, if you don’t know your current situation.  Check your credit score.  Keep track of your debt.  He can’t know your debt until you know it, just like he can’t fully know you until you know yourself.
Argument

Be Open.  You may be fluent in your love language, but how is your financial fluency?  One thing I had to learn with the Mr. is to truly engage in communication you have to be willing to talk as much as you listen.  Give as much as you ask and be prepared to hear things you may not like.  Relationships thrive on open lines of communication.  Again, if you plan on jumping the broom, you have to be ready to talk about everything, including those stupid financial decisions you made in your early 20s that you are still paying for…literally.
Danielle jona's ring

Great Expectations. The 6 carat dream on the .25 carat budget.  I have another friend whose boyfriend told her, he was not proposing to her because he couldn’t afford the rings she was pinning on Pinterest.  Does she really expect a celebrity ring? No. Does her boyfriend have a point?  Yes…well, maybe.  Yes, he has a point because he doesn’t want to disappoint you.  Maybe, because Pinterest is like an online vision board of awesomeness where you group images that you like that lead to articles that you love (follow SMC on Pinterest).  Why not pin pretty things?

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Tick Tock, Gotta Beat the Clock.  I’ve heard women say, including myself, that they want to be engaged to be married by [insert date/age here].  For many, the race is more so against the clock than against the Joneses.  How many of you put a similar emphasis on paying off student loans, credit card debt, protecting your investments, or living debt free? Maybe he is not ready. Maybe you both aren’t ready as you think you are. I will say that you need to make sure your ducks are in a row. Wouldn’t it be lovely, when the time comes, to go into a marriage with no financial surprises. In my opinion, that is WAY better than a ring…but that’s just my two cents.

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{Money & Relationships} 5 Money Questions You Need to Ask Your Significant Other TODAY!

Okay…so a while back I was researching ideas for the Mr.’s 30th birthday gift, when I came across an article about things couples should discuss before taking it to the next level. I read it, thought about discussing it with the Mr., and lost it. Oh well, I thought to myself, until a similar yet more thorough list came across my Pinterest feed. It’s a list of 100 questions from a book called Don’t You Dare Get Married Until You Read This! The Book of Questions for Coupless by Corey Donaldson. Let me now add the disclaimer that I get paid to design andwrite about weddings and other special event, so this type of stuff pops up in my inbox all of the time. This list, however is the most comprehensive I’ve come across, and it includes questions about MONEY. One of the major killer of marriages is MONEY and a couple’s individual and collective attitudes regarding spending, saving, and basic money management skills.  One easy example is Teresa Giudice from the New Jersey Housewives, who once famously said, “her money is her money and his money is her money”.  If you are in a serious relationship, I recommend you talk through these five questions and the others in the book, which I plan on purchasing today!

CHECK OUT SOME OF THE MONEY QUESTIONS BELOW:

1. What justifies going into debt?
2. What are all your current debts?
3. How should we prepare for a financial emergency?
4. Do you feel that lack of money is a good reason not to have children?
5. At this point in our relationship (pre-marriage), would you be comfortable transferring all of your money into my bank account?

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpgWhat do you think about these questions?

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