It is the awkward question that everyone wants the answer too, but no one is willing to ask. Awkward silence and avoidance occur and brides and bridesmaids alike sweat the day the topic will come up!
So who does pay for the bridesmaid dress? The Bride or the Bridesmaids?
The answer is, there is no right or wrong answer. Each wedding and bride is different, and every bride has a different relationship with her bridesmaids which will influence this part of the wedding.
If you look at the history and tradition of weddings, traditionally the bridesmaids paid for their own dresses. Often resulting in hundreds spent on expensive ghastly gowns and formal wear that only ever see the back of the wardrobe after the wedding.
However as weddings now are an expression of your own personality and style, the landscape and shape and look of bridesmaid robes has changed significantly, with many brides letting their bridesmaid select their own dresses. In these circumstances, many bridesmaids will pay for their own dress as the freedom to select what they personally like and will wear again.
Even for traditional weddings where the bride is very specific and prescriptive with the exact dress she wants, there is an increasing trend where the bride will pay for the dresses in these circumstances. This shift from the bridesmaids paying to the bride footing the bill is happening for a number of reasons.
Some of these include location weddings that require the bridal party and guests to travel resulting in accommodation and time of work costs, means the bride is happy to reduce the financial burden for her bridesmaids.
A change in our culture and focus on weddings from it being an honor and privilege to be a part of a bridal party to more the bride realizing that weddings end up costing a small fortune for everyone involved and not wanting to put this pressure on her bridesmaids. Now, weddings cost more, not just due to an increase in the price of living, but we want and demand more. All the extra costs like spray tans, hair and makeup and manicures and pedicures end up totaling around $500. That on top of a dress is a lot to expect a bridesmaid to pay.
So with factoring in these things, how will you know what do you for your wedding? Well, we recommend doing up a cost sheet, writing all the expenses that your bridesmaids will have, including the price of the dress, and then working out what you are going to contribute and how much you want them to contribute. That is why for many brides, paying for the dress takes the burden out of the equation when the smaller items come up. It also depends on your budget, some brides pay for everything for their bridesmaids, including giving them a gift on top of paying for hair, makeup, nails, tans and the dress. Whilst that is a lovely gesture, for many brides, they just can’t afford that and that is ok, your bridesmaids are also happy and excited to be a part of your bid day and don’t expect all expenses to be covered.
Once you do those things, clearly outline who pays for what to your bridesmaids, so everyone is on the same page and then you will avoid any awkward moments throughout the planning process.