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Being in a Wedding Party Costs an Average $825. Here's How to Avoid Debt and Regret

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It can be expensive to be a bridesmaid or a groomsman, especially amid a wedding boom.

Americans are spending an average of $825 to be in a wedding party, including pre-wedding events, attire and the wedding itself, a recent survey by LendingTree found.

Meanwhile, about 2.6 million U.S. adults will get hitched in 2022, up from the typical 2.2 million weddings a year, thanks to pandemic-related postponements, according to wedding website The Knot.

That means you may find yourself buying multiple bridesmaid dresses or renting several tuxedos in a shorter time frame. You'll also be contending with inflation and supply-chain issues.

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"The demand is high," said Esther Lee, deputy editor at The Knot. "There's a very ripe appetite to have in-person events again."

While being asked to be in a wedding party is an honor, make sure you can handle the financial commitment, Lee said.

Fifty percent of Americans who have been part of a wedding party have incurred debt as a result, and 56% have felt pressure to spend more than they could afford, the LendingTree survey found.

Nearly 40% of bridal party members regret spending some of the money they did.

Travel is a big reason people are digging deep into their wallets. What once used to be a one-day event, such as a bachelor or bachelorette party, may now be a three-day extravaganza that includes buying an airline ticket. More than half of those surveyed by LendingTree said they've traveled by plane to attend pre-wedding events or the wedding.

Meanwhile, the cost of a ticket is getting more expensive. The index for airline fares rose 33.3% in April from the year prior, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are ways to manage the costs, according to experts. Here's what to keep in mind.

Communicate

Rubén Carbó / Eyeem | Eyeem | Getty Images

Have a conversation with the bride and/or groom and be transparent with each other about expectations, Lee said.

"It's really important to understand the health of your wallet, the health of your relationship, and to figure out whether or not these expectations align with what you want for yourself if you're in a wedding party," she said.

Save money

Even if you haven't been asked to be a bridesmaid or groomsman yet, if you think it may be in your future, start saving now, advised Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree.

"Generally, most people have a good bit of time to save in advance of big weddings," he said. "It is really important to carve some money out of your budget each month to stash a little bit away."

At the same time, identify what big-ticket items you may have to pay for and set a budget for your expected expenses.

If you don't have money saved, you may wind up accumulating credit card debt — and that debt is expected to get more expensive as interest rates continue to rise in the coming months.

If you must resort to a credit card, use one that has zero-percent interest, Schulz said.

"That reprieve from accruing interest on what you spend to be part of this wedding party can be a really, really big deal," he said.

Turn down offers gently

If you simply can't afford the added expenses of being in a wedding party, you can say "no." About 1 in 5 people have turned down an invitation due to expenses, LendingTree found. Some 69% said it didn't harm their relationship with the bride or groom.

"Just be kind in the process and thank them for the invitation," Lee said.

You can also purchase a gift off their registry and send them a nice thank you card.

If you feel overwhelmed with several wedding-party invitations, just remember this is a rare moment in life, Lee said.

"If you do it well, it can be a really special time," she said.

"You can say, 'I was there for my friends; I saved proactively for those events, and I'm really proud of myself for showing up,'" said Lee. "And you know what? In turn, they'll show up for you down the line, too."

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