We’ve all been there. You—and the 10 other girls in your dinner reservation—are (several) cocktails deep, ready to hit the dance floor. Then the server shows up with one, long check.
All of a sudden, you’re doing rocket science, trying to divide that bill into the inevitably odd number of dinner guests while adding up credit cards. Multiply that by a bachelorette weekend’s worth of expenses, and you’re looking at more headache than a hangover!
We’re giving you the prescription for more fun – and less stress – when it’s time to split the bachelorette party bill.
Gather all the bridesmaids
Step one is to get everyone on the same page. Planning the bachelorette party typically falls to the maid of honor, but the bride can appoint anyone to lead the charge. Once the bride hands over the list of invitees, contact information, and her available dates, the responsible bridesmaid can kick off the conversation in a group email or text.
This is where you manage expectations from the beginning for how much the event will cost. A full weekend in Vegas is going to require a budget. So will one night on the town, albeit a smaller one. Tell everyone now if there will be hotel rooms, large group dinners, or additional costs (pool cabanas, bottle service, party bus, etc.) involved. Bridesmaids should know the financial commitment before officially RSVPing to the party.
Note for frugal friends: you should not expect special treatment at a bachelorette party (for example, that your salad and cocktail be separated from the group check). Understand that large group dinners usually mean larger individual bills. Budget ahead, relax, and order that second glass of wine!
Decide what the bride will pay for
You’ll no doubt want to treat the bride during her bachelorette. Depending on the cost per person, that could be all expenses paid, or a few special luxuries. You’ve already assessed the group’s tone in your “budget expectations” email. Recommend what you think will be reasonable to most of the group, and ask if anyone has any issues with it.
For a weekend getaway, it’s common for the bride to buy her own plane ticket, but the bridal party to split the accommodations. It’s up to your group whether you’ll ask the bride to pitch in for other major expenses. A nice gesture would be to treat the bride during the evening festivities. Whether you want to provide all the bride’s meals and drinks during the day is up to you. By the way, the bride should never be responsible for any lingerie party-related expenses.
Note to brides: it’s a lot to ask your friends to foot the bill for an entire weekend. Consider offering to help cover costs for any extravagant requests.
Divvy major expenses among a few
One way to avoid performing brain surgery after every meal is to divide major expense among a few bridesmaids. Ask for volunteers to put her card down for large charges like dinner, the cabana rental, or the hotel. Assure them they’ll be repaid in a timely manner at the end of the weekend. And hold your end of the deal by dividing each cost by the rest of the guests over a cup of coffee on the plane home. You’re responsible for communicating what each person owes to each volunteer ASAP.
Or volunteer to take the bill
If your credit limit can handle it, put your card down for all the group purchases. You’ll make it easier on yourself when it comes to splitting costs at the end of the trip. Instead of adding and dividing multiple cards, simply total your group charges, and divide by the number of responsible bridesmaids.
Bonus: maybe those airline miles will help cover some of the cost of your trip!
Keep a spreadsheet
Money is always a touchy subject. Requesting money from friends (and sometimes strangers) is even more difficult to navigate! Protect yourself from personality issues with as much transparency as possible. Share a Google doc with your group email including detailed descriptions of each cost and who’s responsible for paying it. As you commit to your Airbnb or order your matching “Bridesmaid” tank tops, add a line to the Google doc or an Excel spreadsheet and send an update to the group.
Then everyone will be able to see charges in real time – and there will be no surprises when it’s time to collect what people owe. At the end of the weekend, include each cost on a separate line, so you’re prepared for any questions.
Use tech support
Splitting the bachelorette bill doesn’t have to require a CPA. There are plenty of tech options to simplify the process! Venmo is probably the simplest solution. Since it’s linked to Facebook, finding people is super easy – and sending or requesting money takes two seconds. Bridesmaids can download the app and link any bank account or credit card. The best part: once you request payment, Venmo will remind people until they pay you. PayPal, online banking, and money transfer services are also helpful.
Tip: Tell partygoers on the front end if they need to download an app or sign up for PayPal or Venmo. It’ll streamline the process at the end of the trip.
Enforce a deadline
This is when you’ll thank yourself for managing budget expectations on the front end! Share in advance when payment will be due, whether that’s the day – or the week – after the bachelorette festivities. You might even request girls pre-pay for the hotel room or limo service. (You can always circle back on room service or mini bar charges.) For more budget-conscious brides, work out a payment plan that’s respectful to you both. Remind all the bridesmaids that volunteers won’t want major charges lingering on their credit cards!
Style Me Pretty Contributor – Madeline Littrell is a corporate PR strategist and freelance writer. Born and raised in the South, she loves big hair, country music, and chicken fingers. Madeline lives in Dallas with her Sheltie puppy, Tennessee.