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Dina Gachman Headshot

The Budget Bachelorette

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It's an honor when a friend asks you to be in their wedding. You're one of the chosen few. You're an insider, like the cool people sitting in the front row at the Academy Awards, sharing inside jokes with the host while the rest of the world looks on from afar. You're backstage sipping champagne before your BFF takes the stage in the most important role of her career (let's hope there's not a sequel), and you're there to hold her flowers, sneakily hide the gum she forgot she was chewing as she walks down the aisle, and basically do anything she needs in order to make her experience amazing.

But all this glory doesn't come cheap. You probably know this because you've either experienced it yourself or vicariously by watching Bridesmaids repeatedly and nodding in solidarity when Kristen Wiig pulls a Pacquiao on that gigantic cookie because she just can't take the pressure of fancy dresses, tickets to Paris and bleached a-holes anymore. Or maybe money is no object and you're the one plunking down cash for caviar facials and truffle hair treatments for the ladies. If so -- good for you! If not, planning a bachelorette party on a budget can be a little bit of a challenge -- a challenge that ends with you pummeling a pastry in a manic rage.

Obviously the bride-to-be should be in the dark about these things. Keep her blissfully ignorant about the endless email chains about things like whether or not it's cheesy to get penis straws or whether forcing her to don a penis hat (the age-old symbol of bachelorette parties from New Orleans to New Jersey) and tutu is part of the plan. These are important decisions. The more serious discussions of course involve finances.

No one likes talking about money. You're not supposed to borrow money from friends, marriages break up over cash flow -- it's a tough, awkward topic. I recently dealt with this type of situation and as long as you're honest and resourceful it doesn't have to lead to catty gossip sessions among factions of bridesmaids existing on different sides of the economic divide. In my particular situation half of the bridesmaids are doctors, like the bride-to-be, and the rest of us are writers, massage therapists and grad students.

The non-doctor faction started getting stressed because a month before the trip we weren't sure how much our hotel would cost, if we were eating out both nights, or if we should budget for a full-on night out that included cover charges and bottle service. "We need to know!" we texted each other as the date drew near. "How do we ask her it's so awkward?" I swallowed my pride and emailed the maid of honor to ask her if she knew how much the rooms where yet and where we were staying. "In Bali!" she wrote back which led to more frantic texting along the lines of, "I asked where we were staying and she joked that we were staying in Bali that's not funny!"

Turns out she actually was in Bali, so joke's on me I guess. We ended up having an honest talk about budgeting when she got back and rather than freaking out and worrying about costs both factions came together to produce a weekend that would be fun, amazing, and not break the bank. Our grad school friend sweet talked the hotel into giving us a 15 percent discount, we're all driving up in the same car to save gas money, and we're cooking the first night and going to a non-posh Mexican joint the second night. Being a Southern girl I couldn't help but throw out the idea of a lingerie shower but really, your good friends only get hitched once (hopefully) so... what's an extra 20 bucks? If some girls want to shop at Agent Provocateur, that's cool. The rest of us will probably hit up Marshalls or Victoria's Secret and have just as great of a time.