Who Pays for Bridesmaid’s Dresses?

Not quite sure who should be paying for the bridesmaid's dresses at your wedding? Read our guide to our expert advice.

By Jane Chertoff

Who Pays for Bridesmaid’s Dresses
Photo by Drew Brashler Photography

The First Look ✨

  • Brides with a generous wedding budget may offer to pay for bridesmaids dresses, but it’s customary (and expected) for bridesmaids to pay for their own dress.
  • Brides may offer to help contribute to bridesmaids who are students or are between jobs.
  • Bridesmaids may pick out their own dress in a color the bride chooses, ensuring everyone stays within her budget.

Who should pay for a bridesmaid’s dress is a question many couples might ask themselves before the big wedding day. On one hand, you—of course—love your bridal party and want to show them how much you appreciate them. But it can be expensive to pay for bridesmaid costs on top of everything else.

So what’s the right thing to do? Below, some factors to take into consideration when deciding who should pay for the bridesmaid dresses, so you can make a fair and informed decision.

Scenario One: Bride Pays

Who Should Pay for Bridesmaid’s Dresses? Photo Credit // Unsplash

If you’ve ever been a bridesmaid before, you know just how pricey it is to be part of the wedding party. If budget allows, the bride may opt to cover the costs of the bridesmaid’s dresses herself to lessen the burden.

This scenario works best if you have a small bridal party—you probably don’t want to pay for 12 dresses, no matter how big the budget. It’s also a good option if the bride has her heart set on exceptionally expensive dresses.

Scenario Two: Bridesmaids Pay

It’s completely acceptable to ask each bridesmaid to pay for her dress. After all, accepting an invitation to be part of the bridal party usually implies agreeing to these types of wedding expenses. (Although the bride should always be upfront about expected bridesmaid costs.)

If you do ask your girls to pay for their dresses, be sure to pick versatile bridesmaid dress styles that aren’t going to blow anyone’s budget out of the water. You could also pick a color like black, blush, or navy, then let everyone pick out their dress. This way, your girls have some control over the cost and style.

Scenario Three: Bride Helps With Costs as Needed

Who Should Pay for Bridesmaid’s Dresses? Photo Credit // Unsplash

Another option is to have your girls pay for their dresses, but help out with costs where you can. If you know one of your bridesmaids recently lost their job or is still in school, you can offer to help pay for all—or part—of her dress. Or, you can cover the costs of alterations.

If you choose to go this route, it’s best to approach this on a case-by-case basis. And be grateful for how you handle the situation. Remember: Your friends are at your wedding because you love them. Don’t let the cost of a dress get in the way of your celebration and friendship.

How Much Should Bridesmaid Dresses Cost?

How much you want to spend (or have your bridal party spend) on dresses comes down to personal preference. The average cost of a bridesmaid dress is typically between $100 and $500.

That said, it’s possible to shop at a secondhand or resale shop for dresses if you’re on a budget. You also could use a dress rental site.

If you’re concerned about asking your bridesmaids to buy a dress at a certain price point, you can always tell them to buy their dress in the color of your choice. Just be specific about what shade, length, material, and style they should pick out.

Other Ways to Love on Your Bridal Party

Are your girls paying for their dresses? That’s completely acceptable. But you can still show them some love in other ways. If you picked out the dress yourself, you can pay for the alterations. Or, offer to pay for their hair and makeup if you can. And always buy your maids a gift to show your appreciation. A cute robe, earrings, or a necklace they can wear for the wedding (and beyond) are great options. Or, go with one of the other great gift ideas listed here.

Need more wedding party advice before the big day? Zola’s got you covered.

Simplify Your Wedding Planning at Zola