How To's
Who Pays for the Bridesmaid Dresses?

Choosing your bridesmaids is a significant milestone in your wedding planning journey. These special individuals, your sisters, best friends, and chosen family, will stand by your side, offering their support and love as you tie the knot. And it’s not just love and support that your friends are contributing to your big day. It’s also time and a whole boatload of cash. According to a 2017 study by WeddingWire, bridesmaids are shelling out between $1,200 and $1,800 per wedding — and that was before inflation.

From TikTok-approved bachelorette weekends in Cabo to full glam for your wedding day, bridesmaids are an economic industry unto themselves. But what about the bridesmaid dresses? Who should foot the bill for these gowns? We'll delve into the age-old question of who pays for bridesmaid dresses and explore how to set expectations while being considerate of your bridesmaids' financial means.

Great Expectations

Traditionally, bridesmaids have been expected to cover the costs associated with their attire, including the dress, shoes, accessories, and alterations. This practice can be traced back to the days before the internet, when social circles were smaller and socioeconomic diversity among friend groups was limited. However, times have changed, and modern weddings often involve a diverse group of bridesmaids with varying financial situations.

If you’re going to ask your bridesmaids to throw down on their bridesmaid dresses, you should be respectful of their personal budgets, especially if you’re asking them to wear dresses they aren’t likely to wear again after your wedding. So, talk to your friends, and keep those lines of communication open throughout the wedding-planning process.

Recognizing the financial strain that bridesmaid expenses (read: almost a month’s rent) can place on your closest friends, many brides are rethinking how they handle money matters with their nearest and dearest.

Sharing is Caring

One option is to share the cost of bridesmaid dresses with your bridal party or decide on a budget together and look for dresses within that price range. This approach ensures that your bridesmaids are comfortable with the financial commitment and that they have a say in selecting their dresses.

Another generous option is to gift the bridesmaid dresses to your bridal party, but this is by no means the expectation today. It is a thoughtful way to show your appreciation for their support and eliminate any financial burden they might face. However, this approach may not be feasible for everyone, depending on your own finances and your wedding budget.

Consider allowing your bridesmaids to choose their dresses within certain guidelines, such as a specific color or style. This gives them the flexibility to pick something that suits their budget and personal style while maintaining a cohesive look.

Open and Honest Communication

This one is less a tip and more a golden rule when it comes to wedding costs. No matter which financial arrangement you choose, open and honest communication is key. This goes for conversations with your bridesmaids, your partner, your family, your vendors — anyone. Discuss your hopes and expectations with everyone involved, early and often, to avoid any misunderstandings or surprises.

Talk to your bridesmaids and determine a reasonable budget for bridesmaid dresses, taking into account everyone’s financial means. Be willing to compromise and find a balance that works for everyone. Always keep in mind that your bridesmaids may have other financial commitments, such as bills, student loans, or childcare expenses and be empathetic and flexible when discussing expenses related to your wedding.

The question of who pays for bridesmaid dresses ultimately comes down to your preferences as a couple and your bridesmaids' financial situations. It's essential to approach this topic with sensitivity and consideration, as your bridal party is making a significant commitment to be part of your special day.

Remember that your bridesmaids are there to support you, and their presence is more important than the price of their dresses. By openly discussing expectations, considering various financial situations, and showing appreciation for their involvement, you can ensure a harmonious and enjoyable experience for everyone involved in your wedding.

Ultimately, the key is to communicate openly, set realistic expectations, and find a solution that ensures both your happiness and your bridesmaids' financial comfort as you embark on this exciting journey together.