06/12/2012 12:38 EDT | Updated 08/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Always a Bridesmaid? Here's How to Save

In the movie 27 Dresses, Katherine Heigl's character was always a bridesmaid. She had a

closet full of puffy dresses she never would wear again, and hosted countless showers and

bachelorette parties. Money was no object. Meet Jennifer Hills, a communications advisor and

recent condominium owner who is single. She's been a bridesmaid four times in four years and will

be again this year.

Hills estimates each wedding has cost her $1,500, between hosting parties, buying her shoes and dress, hair, makeup, etc. When she was living at home it was easier for her financially. Now, with a mortgage to pay, she will begin saving for a wedding as soon as she is asked.

This is truly a double-edged sword: on one hand it is a great thrill and honour to be recognized by the

bride and groom; on the other, costs can quickly add up and dampen the enthusiasm.

"It is such an honour to stand up for my friends," says Hills. "To prepare for this year's wedding

I am being more diligent with my money, budgeting wisely and cutting back on some of my non-


Brides need to be aware of the sizable financial commitment, and be reasonable in their

expectations of what their attendants can afford. The good news is you don't have to go broke

participating in a wedding party. The key is to keep expenses in control every day and maintain a

budget, especially if you have a huge financial commitment like a mortgage.

Ultimately, this isn't only about money but it sure is nice not to worry about it. There are ways to

control the expenses if you are an attendant in a wedding, like:

• Weighing your relationship with the bride before you accept; family or close friends are an

obvious "yes," while a co-worker may not be.

• Being honest and letting the bride know how much you can afford to spend on the wedding.

• Being prepared to politely decline if you can't afford to participate.

• Starting to save as soon as you say "yes."

• Wearing shoes you already own, buying neutral accessories, carpooling and doing your own

manicure and pedicure to save money.

• Splitting the cost of showers and bachelorette parties with the other attendants.

• Buying one shower gift even if there are multiple showers -- it's your presence the bride

wants, not your presents.

• Taking advantage of group discounts on hair and make-up artists arranged by the bride.

• Visiting consignment stores if you get to pick your own dress; sometimes they carry brand

new dresses at a fraction of the cost.

• Renting a dress for the occasion from Rent Frock Repeat will afford you vintage or designer

duds at just a percentage of the cost.

• Selling the dress to a reseller after the wedding to recoup some of the cost.

If you find you have exceeded your budget you can take back control of your finances. Implement a

budget, reduce expenses and focus on paying your debt(s), beginning with the highest interest rate

debt first. By creating a fixed payment schedule on your credit card balance(s) you will make a huge

impact on the time spent in debt, but remember -- this only works if you commit to stop using credit.

There are also qualified financial professionals, such as a trained credit counsellor from a not-for-

profit credit counselling agency, available to review your situation and provide advice free-of-charge.

Careful preparation means you can celebrate with the bride and groom worry-free and celebrate your financial situation too!