My parents are like the Jay and Bey of CPAs, so I was raised to be a penny-pincher-which is why it still kind of shocks me that I shell out $228.86 every month for my membership at 305 Fitness, a dance-cardio studio in New York City that features a live DJ in every class. Always the accountants' daughter, I initially balked at the notion of boutique fitness: Who'd pay $30 a class at 305 (or Soul Cycle, Pure Barre, Barry's Bootcamp, or fill in your own blank) when running outside is free? But then I burned 800 calories (if Fitbit is to be believed) in a single booty-shaking session, and-perhaps more important-fell in love with one of the DJs. After three years of making meaningful eye contact, he asked me out. Two years after that, he proposed to me at a 305 studio. Now, as I plan my wedding and am therefore spending money like it's going out of style, I still justify paying for 305 because (1) it works, (2) I have friends there, and (3) nothing puts a premium on wellness like an upcoming wedding. And I'm hardly alone-lots of brides-to-be are willing to ante up for healthfulness. But with all the bridal boot camps and вЂњsay yes to de-stressвЂќ cleanses out there, what's actually considered money well spent? These fellow brides weighed inвЂ¦
Worth the money: $8 app
For Andie Diemer, 30, the buy-in was as low as $7.99 a month for the Headspace meditation app. вЂњWhenever I felt overwhelmed or emotional, I'd go away and open it for 10 to 15 minutes. I'd return and be able to have a conversation without melting down,вЂќ she says. вЂњI also loved that it didn't have to be super precious. I could sit on the floor against my bed. No spa pouf needed.вЂќ A free trial teaches the basics, but Diemer says the sleep guides and mini meditations (three minutes or less!) warranted the eight-buck monthly fee. вЂњIt sounds crazy, but sometimes even finding 10 minutes was difficult in the midst of wedding planning.вЂќ
Worth the money: $220 monthly gym membership
Before her nuptials, Rachael Lee, 28, fell in love with the gym. She acknowledges her Equinox membership required a hefty monthly payment of $220 (after the $250 initiation fee), compared with some average-Joe gyms that charge closer to $15 a month. But she's made peace with the price given the club's amenities: Unlimited group fitness classes, fully stocked locker rooms with free hair and body products, steam rooms and saunas, and lavender-scented towels вЂњmake you feel luxurious,вЂќ she says. вЂњBut the biggest perk was how I felt stronger almost immediately and saw real results within two months.вЂќ
Worth the money: $349 for five days of prepared meals
Kelsey Arnold, 30, decided her impending wedding was the time for a serious investment in her health, not some вЂњcrazy quick-fix diet that would make me feel crappy,вЂќ she says. She landed on Sakara's food-delivery service of three ready-to-eat meals a day, plus its Detox Tea and Detox Water Concentrates. In a year, she lost 40 pounds, and the benefits weren't just from the no-brainer meals: вЂњMy workouts felt easier, and my other food choices were more informed,вЂќ she says. At $349 for five days, Sakara is considerably more expensive than, say, a cook-it-yourself kit from Blue Apron (around $40 for three dinners for two) or a weight loss service like Nutrisystem (three meals and a snack for about 10 bucks a day). вЂњBut it's hard to put a price tag on something that changes your life,вЂќ says Arnold, who estimates she spent upward of $3,000 on Sakara this year. вЂњWatching my now-husband eat burgers and fries was essentially torture, but my reward was waking up feeling healthier and happier every day.вЂќ
Worth the money: $800 a month for a personal trainer
If you're after that radical before and after, you may benefit the most from the individualized attention of a personal trainer. Just ask Carly de Castro, 34, a founder of Pressed Juicery and the Chalkboard Mag, who worked out with Andrea Speir of Speir Pilates in Santa Monica, California, for the six months before her wedding. For the вЂњpersonalized routine, focus, and accountabilityвЂќ that de Castro loved, she coughed up roughly $800 a month-about $5,000 all in. De Castro started training when she got engaged because she wanted to lose the baby weight from her one-year-old and improve her bad posture. She trained twice a week with Speir, and after a few months, de Castro says, вЂњmy back, abs, and waist totally leaned out.вЂќ (She tracked results based on wedding-dress fittings that got вЂњbetter and better.вЂќ) But those weren't her greatest takeaways: вЂњFeeling confident and standing tall on my wedding day was the ultimate gift to myself,вЂќ she says. вЂњSeeing a personal trainer regularly during this stressful time is like having a therapist who wants you to feel your best-and who can hold you accountable for that each week.вЂќ
See more: Why You Should Consider A Wellness Bachelorette Party
More Affordable (or Free!) Fitness Options
Tone It Up, toneitup.com
Whether you're looking for daily workouts, nutrition plans, or cute athleisure, cofounders Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott can oblige.
Fitness Blender, fitnessblender.com
Created by a married couple who are personal trainers, Fitness Blender boasts hundreds of free exercise videos of varying lengths.
Kayla Itsines, kaylaitsines.com
Itsines's adored Bikini Body Guide sessions (at $20/month) are a superdoable 28 minutes.
Food Heaven Made Easy, foodheavenmadeeasy.com
Registered dietitians Jess Jones and Wendy Lopez provide nutritious recipes that don't cost a lot or taste like dirt.
Social media star Cassey Ho (who married in October!) offers free calendar guides of her YouTube Pilates videos.
Fit Bottomed Girls, fitbottomedgirls.com Get a body-positive take-plus recipes and workouts- from fitness pros Jennipher Walters and Kristen Seymour.
This story originally appeared in the February/March 2019 issue of Brides, on stands starting December 18.