If you’re a first-time bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding, you’ll probably start to notice that there are several unwritten rules about your role. It can be a little confusing and costly when you find out what you need to pay for, participate in, and organize.
One question you may have is who pays for your dress for the wedding day? Does the bride pay for bridesmaid dresses, or is each bridesmaid responsible for the cost?
But don’t worry! Come prepared, and you can enjoy your dear friend or family member’s special day — and all the fun events leading up to it. Learn who pays for bridesmaid dresses and more.
The short answer to “who buys the bridesmaids dresses?” is, the bridesmaids are typically expected to pay for their own dresses. Traditionally, that also means your shoes and accessories.
However, this can also depend on the bride herself and the type of wedding.
Some brides may offer to foot the bill for bridesmaid dresses if they have the means. Weddings are expensive, however, and the bride and groom have many other expenses to worry about.
Standard bridesmaid etiquette dictates that bridesmaids are expected to pay for their own dresses unless stated otherwise.
Average Cost of Bridesmaid Dresses
If you do have to foot the bill for a bridesmaid dress, you’re probably wondering how much they cost. Costs are a major concern for anyone who is asked to be a part of the wedding party.
On average, bridesmaids’ dresses can cost around $150 and up. Their price depends on the current fashion, the stores, brands of dresses, style of gown, and more. It helps to have a budget that’s been agreed upon so that no bridesmaid is left out or frustrated by finances or dress style.
Bridesmaid dresses come in all sorts of styles, colors, fabrics, and costs, of course. It’s possible to find a bridesmaid gown at various price points. It’s also possible to rent dresses for your bridal party though certain shops, usually at a lower cost.
The style and color of the dress are usually up to the bride herself, although some brides will choose a color and allow their bridal party to select their own style of dresses based on their body types.
Suppose you have free reign of what your dress will be. In that case, you’ll still want to consider the cost.
You should consider all of your expenses for the wedding, especially if you will be paying for or participating in other wedding events and celebrations. It’s fair to expect that your bridesmaid dress and anything else you wear is definitely not your only expense as a bridesmaid.
What If You Can’t Afford a Dress?
If one of the bridesmaids is having trouble covering the cost of their dress, the bride should be willing step in to offer help. This type of sensitive topic should be discussed privately (and reasonably, if bridezillas can be avoided) so that the other bridesmaids don’t take issue.
Another helpful idea would be to let everyone choose their dress as early on as possible in the wedding planning process so that each bridesmaid can save up the necessary money.
There are some exceptions, however, when the bride does pay for everyone’s dresses.
The bride paying usually happens if the dresses are over every bridesmaid’s budget. The bride, seeing the particular dress for her bridal party as an essential part of the wedding, should foot the bill instead.
What Else Do Bridesmaids Pay For?
It isn’t just the dress and the rest of your ensemble you may pay for as a bridesmaid. Other events that take place before the wedding day itself are also something to budget. So what do bridesmaids pay for?
The planning can take time, and depending on the location, theme (if there is one), food, and more, it needs to be a collaborative effort.
The bridal party, mother, and sisters of the bride will probably want or need to be involved in planning as well.
The good thing about working together is that one bridesmaid won’t necessarily have to pay for the entire shower. This includes the fact that everyone usually brings an individual gift to this event as well.
The bachelorette party’s planning usually falls on the maid of honor but can also include the rest of the bridesmaids.
What usually happens is that each person is invited to the bachelorette party chips where they can for the bride and pays the costs of the food and drinks they order for themselves. This “rule” is usually if the party is a one-night affair.
If it involves traveling, the bride usually pays for herself to get there and for her own lodging. The rest of the guests can still chip in for things during the party itself.
Gifts are a big part of a wedding, and if you’re close with the bride, they’ll come up during other occasions like the bridal shower, as mentioned, as well as at the wedding ceremony and reception itself.
For example, a bridal shower gift is generally something smaller and less expensive but still has meaning for the bride. You probably want to make sure that it doesn’t outshine the wedding gift, as you can’t turn up to the big event empty-handed.
Make room in your budget for smaller gifts if you know that other events will precede the wedding. One good thing about the wedding gift is that while they will be more costly, they are easier to pick out, thanks to the registry.
Transportation and Hotels
If you have to travel to be a part of the wedding party, transportation costs like airfare will likely fall on you as a bridesmaid.
When it comes to hotels, usually, the wedding party and guests would split the room’s cost with whoever they are staying with if it is for the wedding night.
However, if the couple getting married has a rehearsal dinner that takes place at the wedding venue, they should pay for the hotels of guests for the night prior.
If this is not the case and you have to pay hotel costs for longer than expected, it doesn’t hurt to talk it over with the bride.
Hair and Makeup
Hair, makeup, and accessories costs can vary and depend on the bride and the wedding.
For example, some brides cover the cost of new shoes or accessories if they have a particular option they want their bridesmaids to wear. Other brides might give jewelry or other thank you presents to bridesmaids on the day of the wedding as well.
Some also cover the cost of professionally done hair and makeup, while others ask the bridesmaids to pay depending on the type of hairstyle and how much makeup they would like.
As soon as the bride starts planning, make sure to stay updated and save up for whatever is necessary.
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