Being a bridesmaid is a big responsibility, especially because weddings are so much more than one big party. With all sorts of events and expenses leading up to the big day, it’s an honor that can get pricey pretty quickly. To avoid any awkward moments or confusion, we’ve asked our experts to break down who pays for the bridal shower and what bridesmaids pay for when it comes to wedding expenses for the big day.
Being a bridesmaid is pay-to-play, and ponying up for a bridesmaid's dress is expense number one. This purchase is covered by the bridesmaids, including if the bride requests a general style of shoe (like a nude pump or metallic sandal). But if you want your ‘maids to all wear the exact same shoes and accessories, you’re the one who should cover those costs. Do you have a few brides who might be more budget conscious? Look into rental bridesmaids’ dresses, or consider the mix-and-match trend, which allows each woman to spend what she’s comfortable with.
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 of the bride, such as a grandmother or aunt, offers to serve as hostess, she will take on the costs—but bridesmaids should offer to chip in in some way, whether that is with money or by helping to cook or set up. FYI, bridesmaids are expected to bring gifts to the bridal shower, separate from gifts purchased for the wedding.
This one is a little more tricky. For one night out, the bridal party should 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 them, including food, drinks, entertainment, and transportation for the night. For a single night event, the bride should not pay for any of her bill! If you’re going away for the weekend, there is a little more gray area. Each attendee should cover the cost of her own travel (including the bride) and should pay for her accommodations individually too. (Hint: Airbnb is a great way to keep those costs down.) The bridal party should split the cost of any favors, T-shirts, or other gifts for the attendees. The weekend’s food and activities should be split as though it were any other girl’s weekend, except for the “big night out,” which should follow the rules above—meaning that’s the night when the bride doesn’t pay.
This wedding-day cost also has some fuzzy lines. If the bride requires that every member of her bridal party have her hair and makeup done by the same artists, the bride should cover the costs (including tip). Prices will vary based on the services each ‘maid wants or needs. (Makeup is cheaper without false eyelashes, 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 into themselves—meaning they can have just their hair or makeup done, go to a salon in town, or do everything themselves.
Unless you have space for everyone to stay (such as a vacation home your family is renting for the weekend), your ‘maids should cover their own accommodations like any other guest. They are also expected to pay for their own travel. Remind them to book early for better deals, as well as to take advantage of your room block for more affordable lodging. If they’re cost conscious, encourage them to share rooms to keep the prices down.
Yes, bridesmaids still need to purchase gifts for both the bridal shower and the wedding. Consider your overall gift budget, then allocate more than 50 percent for the wedding gift, using the remaining funds for the bridal shower gift. If bridesmaids have a smaller budget to work with, they can also join forces to get the couple one nicer group gift.
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