Deciding how to outfit your wedding party for the big day is one of the more challenging feats that couples face. Not only do you have to decide on colors and bridesmaid dress styles, but you have to make selections that respect everyone’s budgets. If you’re trying to figure out how to balance aesthetics with finances, we’ve got you covered. We’re breaking down everything from the average cost of bridesmaids’ dresses to where you can rent designer day-of looks.
According to experts, the average cost of a bridesmaid dress is about $150. Keep in mind that’s the average cost for just one dress - multiply that average by the number of bridesmaids in your wedding party and the costs will add up quickly. The money you put towards a bridesmaid budget isn’t chump change, especially when considering all the other costs involved in a wedding.
In addition to the dress, there are things such as accessories, dress alterations, and day-of glam, as well as travel costs, gift costs, and extras, such as bachelorette party and wedding shower decorations, activities, and refreshments to consider. All in all, being in a wedding—whether you’re a bride, groom, parent, or member of the wedding party—is pricey, so keep that in mind when selecting bridesmaid dresses.
While it might not be the most comfortable topic to broach with your besties, chatting about bridesmaid budgets is important, so as to ensure that you respect everyone’s financial abilities. Reach out to each member of your wedding party individually to get an idea of what they feel comfortable paying.
Offer your friends ranges from under $100, $100-$150, $150-$250, $250+ for dresses, which will help you narrow down choices when selecting bridesmaid dresses . There are tons of options in each range, so don’t worry about limiting your choices. If you do happen to fall in love with a style outside of the chosen range, offer to make up the difference yourself (if this doesn’t work for your wedding budget, consider looking for a similar dress in the chosen price range).
If you’re asking your bridesmaids to buy their own dresses, there’s a good chance that your pals will have different body types, style preferences, and budgets. A great way to make sure that everyone feels comfortable is to let them each select their own gowns. Luckily, mismatched dresses are becoming much more popular (and create a chic wedding party look), so no one will bat an eye or wonder why your bridesmaids aren’t matching from head to toe. Give them guidelines (such as colors, fabric, and/or length) or pull together some options you love in different price ranges.
Whether your pals aren’t looking for dresses they can re-wear or you have your eye on a designer label, renting bridesmaid dresses is a great way to secure your dream wedding party look at a lower price. Not only do sites such as Rent the Runway provide a plethora of wedding-oriented designers, such as Badgley Mischka, to choose from, but the site offers formal options starting around $40 as well. Renting will be easier if you go the mismatched bridesmaid look route and let each gal pick her own style. Just make sure that everyone gets their orders in on time, and that your bridesmaids will feel beautiful at the wedding (while avoiding blowing through their savings in the process).
While it’s important to consider the cost of the actual dresses, that’s not where the fees stop for bridesmaids. In addition to the cost of the gowns, consider the price of details such as dress alterations, shoes, accessories, day-of hair and makeup, and the accommodations. While you’re not obligated to pick up the tab on everything, it’s nice when the engaged couple offers to alleviate some of the financial burden placed upon the wedding party (or at least find ways to keep costs down). Instead of asking everyone to get new shoes, let them pick their own (within a few boundaries) and send a pic to the bride or MOH for final approval, or give them the accessories or wedding day hair styling to make your bridesmaids feel pampered (and their budgets feel taken care of).
Ultimately, the day is about more than friends in matching gowns and the gleaming bridesmaid accessories. While it’s totally normal (and fun) to have a wedding day vision, don’t forget the real reason behind the celebration: It isn’t about the color-coordinated wedding party or the perfect pair of shoes. It’s about marrying the person of your dreams with your favorite people by your side. While it can be stressful coordinating outfits—especially if your bridesmaids have different budgets and body types—try to be flexible should any bridesmaid dress-related drama arise. And, remember that no matter what your bridal party wears, at the end of the day you’re still promising forever to your other half, which will make for a truly beautiful event.
Whether your pals rock designer gowns, preowned dresses, or rented maxis, all that matters is that they’re there to celebrate you. However you outfit them, it’s their love for you that will truly make your bridesmaids look the part.