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My family covered the bridesmaids' expenses at my daughters' weddings because it didn't seem right to ask the women to pay

Kelsey Vlamis   

My family covered the bridesmaids' expenses at my daughters' weddings because it didn't seem right to ask the women to pay
  • Jean Jordison, a retired teacher, said her family covered bridesmaid costs at her daughters' weddings.
  • She said it didn't feel right to ask the bridesmaids to pay since they were throwing the wedding.

When Jean Jordison's eldest daughter spent an entire month's salary just to be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding, she was shocked.

It was around the year 2000, and Jordison's daughter was a brand-new teacher, fresh out of college. She had to pay for a specific bridesmaid dress, alterations, a flight, a hotel stay, and more.

"As the mother of three daughters, I just thought, 'Oh my gosh, there has to be a better way,'"Jordison, who lives in Iowa City, Iowa, told Business Insider.

Jordison, who worked as a school librarian and preschool teacher before retiring, said that when her daughters got married in the aughts, they opted to pay for all the bridesmaids' expenses.

"It just didn't seem right to ask people to pay for stuff," she said.

Today, the average amount spent on being a bridesmaid is $1,900, according to data compiled by The Knot. Those costs include a bridal shower and wedding gift, the bachelorette party, dress, and hair makeup — which are all on top of other potential wedding guest costs, like flights and hotels.

It's not unheard of for bridesmaids to go into debt just to stand by their friend's side at the altar. Three women recently told The Cut they took on debt to fulfill their role as bridesmaids, with one saying she spent a total of $3,200 even without doing everything the bride wanted.

The high expenses associated with being a bridesmaid have been controversial, with countless articles offering advice for people who say they can't afford to be in a bridal party.

But to Jordison there's a straightforward solution: the bride, or whoever is paying for the wedding, covers the bridesmaid costs, so they only get what they can actually afford.

"I just think nobody should have to go in debt to be in your wedding," she said.

For her first daughter's wedding, Jordison said she knew they wanted to cover the bridesmaid expenses. The bridesmaids included the bride's two sisters, a close friend who had just graduated from college, and a close family friend who was in her teens, as well as one other person.

She said they picked out affordable bridesmaid dresses, shoes, and jewelry. They didn't skimp on anything, but they found options that were within their means — and there wasn't a big destination bachelorette party, which has become increasingly common.

"We're not millionaires, but we're not in poverty either, and it just seemed like we should be figuring out how to pay for this wedding because it was our wedding, our party," she said.

One of Jordison's other daughters eloped, but when her youngest got married, they again covered the costs for the bridesmaids, which included her two sisters and two sisters-in-law.

Jordison said she thinks too many people get caught up on traditions or trying to do things they can't afford. She said for her first daughter's wedding they were able to have 400 guests, but opted not to do a sit-down dinner and didn't have any wedding favors.

She said it often seems that couples getting married have big ideas for their events that they want other people, like guests or the bridal party, to help pay for.

Jordison said covering the bridesmaids' expenses was well worth it.

"I know the young women that were involved all appreciated it, too, because none of them were in a position where it would've been easy to pay for those things," she said.

While Jordison said it felt right for her family to cover those costs, wedding etiquette experts say the best thing to do is be transparent about expenses from the jump. They also say there are some costs bridesmaids expect to pay, like for their dress, while others should be optional or covered by the bride, like hair and makeup.

Jordison's advice to others is to think of your wedding more like a family event than an entertaining event and to do what's right for your family, regardless of traditions and expectations.

"I just think in this day and age, you can have the wedding you want," she said. "And it doesn't have to be this extravaganza."

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