Being a bridesmaid is a big responsibility, especially because weddings are so much more than just one big party. With all sorts of events and expenses leading up to the big day (and sometimes after!), it’s an honor that can become pricey pretty quickly. Naturally, when money and friendship dynamics are involved, tensions have the potential to run high.
When it comes to ensuring that both the bride and bridesmaids have an enjoyable experience, maintaining open communication is key. "I don't believe the rules are set in stone when it comes to what the bride or the bridesmaids should pay for," says wedding expert Lorella Othenin-Girard. "But it should be clear between them from the beginning. As a bride, be honest with your bridesmaids and tell them what you expect from them—compromise is key!"
Meet the Expert
Lorella Othenin-Girard is the founder of La Jolie Bride. She is also the founder of Borrowed by La Jolie Bride, a rental platform for bridal and bridesmaid needs.
To avoid any awkward situations—from the moment you ask your bridesmaids to take on the role until after the wedding day—we break down what bridesmaids pay for when it comes to wedding expenses, versus what falls on the bride. Read on to prep your budget accordingly.
Everything Bridesmaids Should Pay For
Average Cost: $100 - $350+
Being a bridesmaid is pay-to-play, and ponying up for a bridesmaid's dress is expense number one. But keep in mind that if the bride imposes specific shoes and accessories, she should cover those costs. For more budget or sustainability-conscious bridesmaids, rental services or mix-and-match trends allow everyone to spend how they're comfortable.
The Bridal Shower
Average Cost: $50 - $150+
The cost of the shower is covered by the hosts. If the bridal party is hosting, they should split the cost amongst themselves. If a relative offers to serve as the host, they will take on the costs—but bridesmaids should offer to chip in, either with money or by lending a hand. Bringing a small hostess gift can also be a beautiful gesture of gratitude.
The Bachelorette Party
Average Cost: $250 - $1,500+
This one is a little more tricky. For one single night out (meaning, not a long weekend or overnight trip), the bridal party should agree to split any games or pre-purchased items (like champagne or a sash) evenly. Then all of the guests should split the evening’s costs among themselves, including food, drinks, entertainment, and transportation. The bride should not pay any of her bills this night, but keep in mind that bridesmaids should discuss options that feel affordable for everyone—no one should ever feel uncomfortable or like they're spending beyond their means.
Going away for the weekend poses a little more of a gray area. Each attendee should cover the cost of their own travel and accommodations—including the bride (the bridal party is definitely not expected to cover the bride's travel costs!). The weekend’s food and activities should be split as for any other girl’s weekend, except for the “big night out,”—that’s the night the bride doesn’t pay.
Hair and Makeup
Average Cost: $75 - $125+
This wedding-day cost has some fuzzy lines, too. If the bride requires every member of her bridal party to have their hair and makeup done, the bride should cover the costs (including tips). Prices will vary based on the services each bridesmaid wants or needs: Makeup is cheaper without false lashes, and simpler hairstyles are more affordable than updos. If having hair and makeup done is optional, the bridesmaids should pay for whatever services they opt for themselves.
Wedding Travel and Hotel Rooms
Average Cost: $250 - $1,000+
Unless the bride is hosting a space for everyone to stay (such as a family vacation home or weekend rental), the bridesmaids should cover their own accommodations like any other guest. The only exception is if the bride plans a sleepover with her squad the night before the wedding. In this case, the costs typically fall on whoever is paying for the bridal suite. When it comes to travel, the bridesmaids cover their own transportation to and from where the wedding takes place.
Book early for better deals and take advantage of room blocks for more affordable lodging. Cost-conscious bridesmaids can share rooms to keep the prices down.
Bridal Shower Gift
Average Cost: $75 - $100+
The bridal shower guest list is the most exclusive, so snagging a seat calls for a token of appreciation. Unlike the wedding gift, however, bridal shower gifts are considerably smaller in size and value. If you're unsure of what to get, ask the shower host for a nudge in the right direction or let the shower theme (if there is one) guide you. Many bridesmaids opt to pool together and get the bride a single gift from the group. "This is something we see more and more," notes Othenin-Girard.
The Wedding Gift
Average Cost: $100 - $125
Yes, bridesmaids still need to purchase gifts for the wedding. Consider your overall gift budget, then allocate more than 50 percent for the wedding gift and use the remaining funds for the bridal shower gift. If bridesmaids have a smaller budget to work with, they can join forces to get the couple one nicer group gift.
Everything the Bride Should Pay For
The honor of being a bridesmaid certainly comes with its costs, and while tradition calls for the bridal party to pay for some elements of the wedding, it does not mean that they absorb all of the costs. Certain details fall on the newlyweds and should be part of their holistic wedding budget.
Bouquets or corsages for the bridesmaids fall under the floral budget covered by whoever pays for the wedding. This can get expensive depending on the size of your squad and the types of flowers you choose. If you're looking to cut costs, consider smaller arrangements of lush greenery and local, in-season blooms. Or, have your bridesmaids carry something less traditional like a candle or lantern to light the way.
Transportation to the Wedding Venue
"The newlyweds should pay for transportation from hotels to the wedding venue," says Othenin-Girard. Though she reiterates that any original transportation to the hotel falls on the individual guests and bridesmaids. If the wedding includes several stops (such as hotel to ceremony site to reception venue and back to hotel), the newlyweds are responsible for covering the costs and planning the logistics.
Bridesmaids' gifts aren't required but are a wonderful way to show appreciation. "Being a bridesmaid is a big commitment," explains Othenin-Girard. "So it's always nice to thank them for being there for you." She recommends opting for personalized or sentimental gifts that they can cherish for a lifetime.
Accommodations for the Wedding
The bridal suite or newlyweds' room is paid for by whoever is hosting the wedding. Sometimes, if the family is paying for the wedding, the couple may offer to pay for it themselves. The bridesmaids are only responsible for covering the cost of their own accommodations, not the bride's, too.