Average Bridesmaid Dress Cost: How Much Should They Spend?

You may love that beaded chiffon gown, but your girls might not love its hefty price tag ..

Updated 01/11/18
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Photo by Greer Gattuso

Being a bridesmaid comes with major perks: An invite to the bachelorette party, a day of getting glam and celebrating with the bride, etc. It's a free backstage pass to all things wedding-related, but there are costs — and chief among them is the outfit. Wondering what the average bridesmaid dress cost is? Read on to find out how much is too much to ask bridesmaids to spend, and how can you find a dress that fits their style and their budget.

Determine a Bridesmaid Dress Budget

Bridesmaids are some of the closest women in your life, the ones who are there for you from stressful guest list decisions to wine-fueled nights assembling invitations. So when it comes time to pick out what they’ll wear down the aisle ahead of you, their budget should be just as big a factor as your wedding’s style.

Before you start browsing the web for inspiration, figure out what price point you’ll be looking at. Since your ‘maids are the ones who will be ponying up for the dresses, go straight to the source and ask them what they’d feel comfortable spending. 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+), and ask them which range they’d be most comfortable in. There are gorgeous dresses available at all of those prices, so you’ll be able to start your search knowing the options you consider are ones everyone can afford. Send this email or text one-on-one (not to the bridal party group chat) to respect everyone’s privacy.

Not so comfortable talking numbers? Be as considerate as possible when making your choice (and remember that things like accessories and alterations are an additional cost!). Try to keep the dress you choose under $200 if possible (the average bridesmaid dress cost is around $150). 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’s worth it to hunt down a less-expensive option that won’t break the bank.

Ways to Save on Bridesmaid Dresses

If price is something you’re really worried about (which can happen when your bridesmaids are at different stages in their lives and might have dramatically different incomes or outlooks on spending), there are creative ways you can help your girls save money on bridesmaid dresses.

1. Look for Pre-Owned Dresses

If you're in love with a 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. Let's say your dream dress is $300 and four of the five bridesmaids are comfortable with that price tag — now you can just go online and scout around to see if you can find the fifth dress pre-owned for your bridesmaid who's ballin' on a tighter budget! With a little luck, you can find the gown in the right size and you can (privately) offer your fifth 'maid 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 color or palette, plus a style detail (think length, neckline, fabric, or aesthetic), and let your ‘maids pick their own dresses. This will let each lady choose a dress you both love, all while respecting the budget that works for her. Just remember to ask them to send a picture of their dress to the group email to ensure everyone’s designs mesh and to avoid duplicates.

3. Try Renting the Bridesmaids Dresses

Tied to more traditional bridesmaid styles? You can always rent! Rent the Runway offers a designated page of bridesmaid favorites (think Badgley Mischka and Twobirds) that would make coordinating mismatched gowns easy. The great thing about rentals is that the price is lower and you don’t end up with a one hit wonder hanging in the back of your closet. (We hate to break it to you but, unless your dress of choice is a classic cocktail dress, your ‘maids probably won’t wear the dress again.)

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