The most controversial aspect of selecting bridesmaid dresses is oftentimes who is supposed to pay for them and then, who is to pay for them. As a matter of fact, one of the most common questions wedding designers receive is, “is it ok to ask my bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses?”
The answer to that question is that there is no real definitive standard to adhere to. In this day and age, weddings have expanded to incorporate so many different styles and rituals that the accommodations of yesteryear are no longer as prevalent. In North America, it used to be standard for bridesmaid dresses to be paid for by the bridesmaids themselves. Today, who’s responsible for purchasing the bridesmaid dresses is a lot less clear. After all, considering the potential high costs of the bridesmaid outfits plus alterations, is that something you want to put on your friends and family – maybe not.
There is a strong argument for the bride paying for the bridesmaid dresses. If the bride can afford to, in all honesty, it would be seen as a thoughtful gesture. Even if a bride can cover a portion of the cost for her bridesmaid’s dresses, this is also something that may win a bride bonus points. If the wedding is far away and the bridesmaids must travel, this is also an easy way to accommodate some of the expenses they will have to incur.
From the perspective of the bridesmaid, it can admittedly be surprising to receive a wedding invitation alongside the requirement of having to spend hundreds of dollars to attend. There are many women who have never attended a wedding before and who may be unfamiliar with the responsibilities of a bridesmaid. For those women, yes, they may be offended at being asked to pay for their own dress. In terms of keeping everyone happy, a bride may try to do what she can to keep costs low.
Also, let’s face it. We’ve all gone through tough times financially. If one of your bridesmaids is not going through the best financial times and is unable to make the financial commitment, some brides may consider stepping in and making a personal, private arrangement with them to cover the dress. Though not every bride will be able to offer this, for one who is considering asking bridesmaids to cover the cost of their dresses, it’s something to think about. Keep in mind though that, etiquette-wise, there is nothing that puts the responsibility on the bride to pay.
The high costs of a wedding don’t always make it possible for a bride to accommodate the additional expense of bridesmaid dresses. The option of not having bridesmaid dresses is pretty much off the table so someone needs to cover the cost. As we stated earlier, it is common for bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses and to this point, it’s perfectly alright to ask them to do so.
The key to asking a bridesmaid to pay for their own dress is making it clear from the get-go about the financial responsibility. Separate from the wedding invitation and prior to them accepting the invite, ensure that you communicate to anyone involved in the wedding what their financial responsibilities are expected to be. That way, it’s a clear yes and no as to who agrees. If someone you want as a bridesmaid cannot afford the dress, it gives enough time to come up with an arrangement between you and them, and/or to select someone else.
Assuming that the bridesmaids agree to purchase their dresses, it does not mean to select the most expensive option on the market. Carefully consider the outfit you choose. Along with considerations such as body types and height, ensure that the cost of the dress is also kept in mind. Even though you may have found the perfect $500 bridesmaid dress, that’s not a reasonable price to expect someone else to pay.
Also, if it’s a destination wedding or if you know there will be other expenses that your bridesmaids are going to have to cover to be there, price is even more important as it pertains to the dresses. Though you don’t want to stir up an argument, or have someone be frustrated or upset towards you, it’s OK to ask for a bridesmaid to pay for their dress as long as you make it clear early-on and that you don’t overspend.
Weddings are super expensive. Even the most affordable of weddings is still going to amount to thousands of dollars that the bride and groom will be required to cover. There is a lot, a lot to pay for so any way to cut down on cost is recommended. That said, bridesmaids are important figures at a bride’s wedding. They represent the female family and friends who have supported a bride’s relationship, and who have been there for the bride throughout times thick and thin. These are women who are making the time commitment, willing to pay for their own transportation and accommodations, in addition to the dress. Needless to say, bridesmaids are not where to cut costs.
How a bride and groom chooses to financially manage their wedding is up to them. For each couple, it may be different. There may be one option more appropriate to them than the other.
Bridesmaids come with defined responsibilities and expectations so be sure to provide some guidance on what is expected and don’t assume your bridesmaids will have full knowledge of the job. Prior to gathering the bridesmaids together, speak to each one privately to discuss financial arrangements and to respond to any other concerns or answer any questions they may have. Being a bridesmaid is a real thrill. It’s just getting to the big day that can be difficult waters to navigate. Be sure to extend a big thank you to all who attend!