What You May Have to Pay For
You've got the bridesmaid's standard budget covered, but what about other potential expenses? There are more hidden and unexpected costs that go into being a bridesmaid than there will be drunken guests willing to raise their arms to spell out YMCA at the reception (and that's really saying something). But there are some additional common purse-draining surprise wedding costs.
There are two more bridesmaid expenses that vary wildly depending on your budget and the bride's wishes and tastes -- the bridal shower and bachelorette party. If you want to throw the bride an extravagant bridal shower with catered food, games, music and lavish gifts, you can expect to pay significantly more than what it would cost to get a few friends together, buy the bride several inexpensive presents and munch on cheese and crackers.
Of course, the same can be said of the bachelorette party. There's a big difference between buying the bride-to-be a few drinks and flying to Vegas with your girlfriends for a decadent last hurrah. The party budget is up to you, but some bridesmaids spend more on the bachelorette party than they do on all other wedding-related expenses combined. Even if you're keeping it cheap and simple, we'd suggest stashing away at least $200 to $300 for the two events, and that's a conservative estimate.
Don't forget that even though everyone's eyes will be on the beauty in the white dress, you'll still want to look your best, too. Budget at least $100 for hair, nails and makeup. These costs are sometimes covered by the bride or her family, however.
Planning a wedding is hungry work, and you're not always going to have time to go back home and cook. Prepare to spend at least an extra $100 over the months leading up to the wedding on unplanned meals out, and that's if you don't eat much and are willing to down cheap fast food.
You probably already own a strapless bra, but do you have one in that hideous shade of off-puke green to match your bridesmaid dress? Not likely, so plan on spending an extra $40 or so for the brassiere.