Who Pays for Bridesmaid Dresses?

When and how to set a budget for bridesmaid outfits

By Samantha Cabrera

bridesmaid in turqoise dress escorted down aisle
Photo by Jen Huang PhotographyBookmark and Share

There's no doubt about it -- weddings are expensive. Unless you want to head to the courthouse and just pay for the marriage license, you have to keep tight reigns on the wedding budget, no matter how large or small your wedding. Bridesmaid dresses are a key part of the wedding, so sit down with your bridesmaids beforehand to discuss a budget.

Who Pays?

Traditionally, each bridesmaid pays for her own dress and accessories.

When to Step In

If a bridesmaid tells you she cannot afford the dress or shoes for your wedding, it's up to you what to do next. One option is for you to pay for her items, while the other bridesmaids still pay for their own.

Bridesmaid Budget

Yes, you want your day to be gorgeous, but you have to consider the time and money others have to devote to your special day. Keep a budget for the bridesmaids and stick to it. Anything more than $300 or thereabouts may have some bridesmaids reluctant to participate, so be prepared.

Bridesmaid Dresses

Tack the word "wedding" onto anything and the price jumps up. Instead of standard bridesmaid dresses from a bridal boutique (which can run up to $500 and beyond), look to retailers (e.g., J. Crew and Ann Taylor) that offer simple, chic bridesmaid and cocktail dresses fit to be all-purpose dresses year-round. If your bridesmaids are easy to fit, check online auction sites for old stock from both of these stores at an extremely discounted price.

Be Courteous

The vast majority of weddings do go over budget. Remember that it would be better to go a few hundred dollars over budget so a good friend or family member is able to participate in your wedding than to buy more flowers for the reception.

About the Author

Samantha Cabrera is a freelance writer, covering fashion and beauty.

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Wedding Glossary


A female who is too old to be a flower girl and too young to be a traditional bridesmaid. Often participates in the bridal shower, ceremony rehearsal, rehearsal dinner and the ceremony processional but not the bachelorette party.

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