Who pays for the bridesmaid dresses? The bride or the bridesmaid?

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I found figuring out bridesmaid dresses one of the more stressful parts of wedding planning. It’s hard enough finding a dress for yourself most the time, let alone picking a style that’ll flatter different body shapes, suit your dress, and that are available in just the right shade of pink. And then comes what can be the trickiest question of all – who pays for the bridesmaid dresses? The bride or the bridesmaid?

Who pays for the bridesmaid dresses?

Traditional etiquette actually dictates that the bridesmaid pays for everything. This runs counter to what the majority of my brides do – with most couples picking up the tab for their bridesmaids. I posed this question in the Facebook Group recently and it was overwhelmingly the bride who was picking up the tab.

Most brides start pondering getting the bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses when the budget gets squeezed, or when bills are starting to add up! But if you have the chance, seriously consider the costs involved before asking your wedding party.  Weigh up, for example, whether you are better off to have two, fully paid for bridesmaids, than 5 bridesmaids who have to pay their own way – considering as well as dresses, you may have hair, nails, makeup, spraytans, gifts and transportation to cover. (Read more on the things a friend should consider before agreeing to be a bridesmaid). When we’ve discussed this in the community before, Ali pointed out that the reality of getting married these days is that If you ask others to bear costs, you make not be able to include those you want to.

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Talk about who is paying for the bridesmaid dress and shoes upfront

It’s important to discuss who will pay for what – yes, it’s an awkward conversation to have, but if you want someone to be your bridesmaid, and you want them to pay for their bridesmaid dress, then you should let them know this when you ask them to be your bridesmaid (so that they can opt out early if they won’t have the money). It saves hurt feelings and animosity on both sides.

In the community, Emma suggested being upfront about what you can afford, as “honesty is always the best policy”. Laurie had a great point too – you know about the wedding in plenty of time, so if you do plan to have your bridesmaid pay for her dress, she could use this time to save $10 or $20 a week towards your costs.

Alternative ways to deal with the bridesmaid dress issue

You don’t have to shout the bridal party a brand new outfit for their wardrobe. There are dress rental sites offering beautiful options that you could hire. Or purchase the dresses, then take them back afterwards to on-sell.

If you’re worried about budget, see if your bridesmaids have shoes of their own that they could wear (black pump heels for example – they don’t have to be an exact match).

Jacqui had a great solution in the Southern Bride community –  “I said to my bridesmaids if they want to keep the dress then they can buy it, if not I’ll pay and I will sell it later. They seemed happy with that.”

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Are you having issues with who pays for what?

If you’re wondering if it’s okay to ask your friend to pay for her bridesmaid dress, or you are a bridesmaid who is trying to budget for her friend’s big day – what do you think? Do you think it’s up to the bride to pay for the dresses?

who is supposed to pay for the bridesmaids dresses

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