Being a bridesmaid—or any best friend of the bride–comes with major benefits, including an invite to the bachelorette party, a day of getting glam and celebrating together, and so many other perks. It's a free backstage pass to all things wedding-related, but there are costs you'll have to pay out of pocket, chief among them being the wedding day ensemble. Wondering what the average bridesmaid dress costs? Read on to find out how much is too much to ask bridesmaids to spend.
Determine a Budget
The friends and family you ask to be in your bridal party are some of the closest in your life, the ones who are there for all of the moments ranging from angsty guest list decisions to wine-fueled nights assembling invitations. So when it comes time to pick out what they’ll wear on the wedding day, budget should be just as big of a factor as the dress style.
Before you start looking for inspiration, it's important to go the source. Yes, talking money is tough, but the thoughtfulness of asking for their input will outweigh any awkward feelings. To make it easy, offer a few price ranges: $100-$200, $200-$350, and $350+ is a good starting point. There are gorgeous ensembles available at all of these prices, so you’ll be able to start your search knowing the options you consider are ones everyone can afford.
Reach out to each bridesmaid individually via email or text to respect everyone’s privacy. And while you're talking numbers, don't forget to consider additional costs such as accessories and alterations.
Not so comfortable discussing financials? If the winning dress costs a little more, offer to pay for the difference, cover alteration costs, or gift them accessories or hair & makeup services—especially if you’re requiring that they wear a specific shoe or have their hair and makeup professionally done. Can’t squeeze that extra money out of your budget? If you can’t afford it, your bridesmaids may not be able to, either, so it might be worth it to hunt down a couple of less-expensive options.
Shop Smart—And Save on Bridesmaid Dresses!
If price is something you’re really worried about—which can happen for many reasons, including when your bridesmaids are at different stages in their lives and might have dramatically different incomes, family scenarios, or have different outlooks on spending—there are creative ways you can help your besties save some cash when it comes to the average bridesmaid dress costs.
1. Look for Pre-Owned Dresses
If you're in love with a certain gown but know it's a little out of a bridesmaid's price range, see if you can find the gown on eBay or Poshmark. If your dream bridesmaid dress is around $300 and four of the five bridesmaids are comfortable with that price tag, now you could possibly go online and scout around to see if you can find the fifth dress for your bridesmaid who's on a tighter budget! With a little luck, you can find the gown in the right size and you can (privately) offer her the option to buy it at a steep discount. She'll appreciate the thoughtfulness, and the other bridesmaids will never even have to know.
2. Consider Mismatched Dresses
Choose a specific color (or color palette) plus a style detail—think length, neckline, fabric, or aesthetic—and let your bridal besties pick their own ensembles. Embracing the trend of mismatched bridesmaid dresses will let each of them choose a look you both love, all while respecting the budget. Just ask them to send a picture of their look to the group to ensure everyone’s designs mesh (and to avoid duplicates).
3. Try Renting!
If you're more in love with traditional bridesmaid styles, you can always ask your bridal party to rent! Rent the Runway has a designated page of bridesmaid favorites (think Badgley Mischka and Twobirds) that would make coordinating those mismatched gowns that much easier. The great thing about rentals is that the price is lower and, yes, you won’t end up with a one-hit-wonder hanging in the back of your closet. (That's definitely a win-win!)