Who pays for bridesmaid dresses?

Being asked to be a bridesmaid can be one of the most exciting and fun experiences of your life. Not only that, but you get to spend it by the side of your bestie on one of the biggest days of their life. So saying yes is a no-brainer!

However, when it comes to bridesmaids and budgets the lines can sometimes get a little bit blurry. Who pays for bridesmaid dresses? And what should be considered too much to ask?

Generally speaking, there are three types of brides when it comes to buying your bridesmaids dress; those who will offer to pay for everything, those who will split the cost, and those who expect you to pay.

The problem is that there are so many other factors to consider when buying the perfect bridesmaids outfit, such as colour, style, shoes, accessories, and whether or not you even like the design.


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So for all the bridesmaids out there, here’s our go-to guide on what you should expect to pay for.

who pays for bridesmaid dresses

Image by Natalie Robertson Photography. See the real wedding.

Should I offer to pay for the dress?

As a bridesmaid, you’re expected to buy your own dress for the big day. So offering to pay for the dress isn’t something out of the ordinary. Being asked to be a bridesmaid does come with some costs after all. Particularly if your dress is a reasonable price, off the rack, or something you will wear again, there is no reason why you shouldn’t offer to pay.

However, making their bridesmaids pay for the dress can make some brides feel uncomfortable. A bride will often offer to pay for the cost of the dress if they are dictating a colour or style that the bridesmaid will never wear again, it’s something they like but the bridesmaid isn’t happy with, or if they’ve chosen an expensive or designer gown.

Sometimes brides and bridesmaids are on the same page and will actually discuss splitting the cost of the bridesmaid’s dress. We recommend splitting the bill if the dress is being specially made for the day, there are a lot of other costs for the bridesmaids such as travel or accommodation, or the bride knows that the bridesmaid might not have a lot of money. As a bride, if you’re asking someone to be a bridesmaid then the chances are you want them with you on your big day. So forking out a little bit of money for that shouldn’t be an issue.

As a general rule of thumb, a bridesmaids dress priced under $200 is considered reasonable. If it’s a dress between $200-$500 you should discuss splitting the bill, and if the bride has chosen a dress worth more than $500 then she should offer to pay for it.

What about other costs?

Being a bridesmaid comes with other costs in addition to the dress. There’s the shoes, jewellery, accessories, bridal shower, hens night and even hair and makeup to consider.

This is where it’s important to communicate with your bride and make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to who is buying what.

If your bride is making all of her bridesmaids match and buy the same dress, shoes and accessories she should offer to pay for half the cost. Often this means that you’ll be either paying for just the dress or paying for the shoes and accessories together.

We’re seeing a lot more brides going for the casual look when it comes to their bridesmaids, so not everyone will be matching. If you’ve got a bridechilla and she wants you to just get a pair of shoes in a particular colour, then it makes it a lot easier for pay for. That way you can still buy a pair of shoes that will match the bridal party, while also making sure they’re something you’ll wear again.

When it comes to other costs such as the bridal party or hens night, often the bridesmaids will pool together to make up the basic costs. If you’re a solo bridesmaid or maid of honour then the chances are your bride will split this cost with you. Additional costs for outings such as high tea are often paid for by the guests.

Generally speaking, hair and makeup on the day or at trials should be covered by the bride.

who pays for bridesmaid dresses

Image by Blossom Daisy Creative. See the real wedding.

How do you talk about money?

We’ve heard of plenty of instances where bridesmaids have been left with a bitter taste in their mouth after being asked to fork out too much for a wedding. We’ve also heard of many kind-hearted brides who have been left paying for the dress because they don’t want to offend anyone.

The main focus when it comes to being a bridesmaid is communication, particularly when it comes to money. Cost is something you should talk about upfront before any purchases or decisions are made. While the bride may have a vision in mind, talking about what is reasonable, within budget and suitable for all the bridesmaids means there are fewer chances of friction when it comes to buying the dress.

Sit down with the bride after she asks you to be her bridesmaid and be upfront with her on what she expects from you and vice versa. Your friendship will thank you for it!

How does it work for junior bridesmaids?

If the bridesmaids are young, or junior bridesmaids, the traditional assumption is that their parents will buy the dress. However, having junior bridesmaids is becoming less common, so fewer people will be aware of this tradition. If you’re a bride who wants the parents to pay for the dress you should do some research beforehand on what you expect the budget to be, before asking them upfront about buying the dress.

who pays for bridesmaid dresses

Image by Collective Studio. See the real wedding.

A version of this article also appears on Whimn.com.au

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