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Do I Really Have to Pay All This Money for Bridesmaid Hair and Makeup?

bride getting make up done

Q:Several months ago, my fanciest (and most demanding) friend asked me to be part of her wedding party. We’re friends and I love her, so I accepted… with trepidation. After all, I knew this wasn’t going to be a wedding where I could just slap on some lip gloss, throw my hair in a cute braid, and call it a day.

With this in mind, I’ve been asking my friend for months what the hair and makeup plan is, and she’s ignored my question. Now, of course, her wedding is two weeks away and I’ve just been informed (via a long-winded group email) that I need to bring $225 cash to the getting ready suite to pay for hair and makeup… which isn’t going to be the easiest thing to swing.

Where do I even begin talking to her about this?

—FANCYAF

A:DEAR FANCYAF,

Know that I am here for you, drinking a large glass of wine and typing furiously with rage. I think it’s important we take a moment for rage, because this is not okay. Here is the world’s most basic money rule: you spend your money, and let other people spend theirs.

This rule works well in so many circumstances! No, you can’t plan a fancy bachelorette for yourself and send a Venmo request for payment to your crew. No, you can’t invite people to celebrate your birthday by taking you out for a fancy dinner. No, you can’t book hair and makeup artists for your wedding, sign a contract guaranteeing a minimum number of services with them, and then at the last minute send your wedding party the bill.

But let’s be real here: you aren’t dropping out of her wedding with two weeks to spare, this isn’t out of character for her, and you’ve decided to be her friend anyway for reasons you can’t recall right now but surely must exist. What do you do? This is a communications issue. And, if we’re going to be charitable to her, this wasn’t her plan. She signed that contract nine months ago thinking she’d have the money, or her family would chip in, and it didn’t pan out and she can’t cover the whole cost herself, and now is embarrassed. Hence her group email burying this info five paragraphs in.

Sympathy for her aside though, perhaps you had plans for your money that were not “spend it all on glitter and hairspray.” A few options:

1. JUST SAY NO. No, I’m not going to be getting my hair and makeup done by these people; $225 just isn’t in my budget. I’ll meet you at the getting ready spot at [insert absurdly early time here] ready to go.

2. NEGOTIATE. Ask if you can do just hair, or just makeup, or hair and eyes or lips for cheaper. Hopefully this will prompt her to also look for ways to reduce cost, and you might wind up somewhere reasonable without having to say no. Because let’s be honest, if you had said no to this woman once in your friendship, we wouldn’t be here. I doubt you’re up for starting now.

3.TAKE IT OUT OF HER GIFT. Are you in a weddings-prompt-significant-cash-gifts part of the country? Decent likelihood you are, because that’s also where $225 bridesmaid hair and makeup land is located.

4.PAY IT. PAY IT ALL. Tell this story every time you are drinking for the next five years. Consider that $225 an investment in your future self’s righteous indignation bank. Cherish it. Embrace it.

How do we solve this for next time? Communicate. Brides, tell your bridesmaids what the plan is, whether it’s that you are treating, that you can arrange appointments for whoever wants them and they are $$ each, or that everyone is on her own. Bridesmaids, ask. And if you get a wishy-washy answer, it’s okay to say “Hey, I need to know what the hair and makeup plan is. I’ve got a budget to work with.”

FancyAF, best of luck with this, and here’s hoping that $225 charge at least includes false eyelashes.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE EVERYWHERE YOU TURN, MORE PEOPLE ARE GETTING MARRIED? LIKE ATTENDING WEDDINGS HAS SOMEHOW BECOME YOUR HOBBY? IS “EXPENSIVE CRAP FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S WEDDINGS” A BIGGER BUDGET CATEGORY THAN “MANICURES, BOOKS, AND CHEESE”? Email me: amymarch [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com

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