What Your Bridal Party Should and Shouldn't Pay For

How to divide up costs for your bridesmaids and bridesmen.

bride with her bridesmaids holding bouquets

Photo by Katherine Marchand Weddings

Weddings are not cheap—not for the couple, and not for the guests either. The bridal party, in particular, often has to shell out a good amount of cash during the process. While close friends and family are usually happy to do so, how much is too much to ask? Brides should consider how much they are expected to spend to help cover the costs of their bridal party as well.

As Annie Lee, wedding planner and founder of Plannie.com, says, “Not everyone knows what is customary on who pays for what, and some people don't know what a financial commitment and responsibility comes with the honor of being in a wedding party.” So, before locking your loved ones into it, make sure they are aware of what it will entail. 

We spoke to planners on what the bridal party should and shouldn’t pay for, and how to go about having those occasionally awkward conversations about money.

Breakdown of Bridal Party Expenses

Ahead, planners break down bridal party expenses, along with what bridesmaids and bridesmen will need to pay for.

Wedding Day Attire

One thing the party customarily pays for themselves is their outfits—dresses, tuxedos, suits, and shoes. So, it’s important to be aware of how much of a financial commitment this will be. “What do you want them to wear? Is it custom Tom Ford?” asks Fallon Carter of Fallon Carter Events. In that case, it may not be feasible for some members of the party. 

If the couple does have their heart set on expensive outfits, Lee suggests subsidizing the cost if paying for it outright is not possible. Lee worked with one couple who “as a thank you to the wedding party, paid for their attire. And, it wasn't your average attire; we are talking couture gowns and custom suits. I do think what the wedding party wears is important since they are standing up during the ceremony and so I like to use them as decoration if I can,” she shares.

Another option is to let the wedding party select their own outfits that fit into a style guide—send them the vibe, the color scheme, and perhaps even approve the attire. This way, everyone can work within their own budget and avoid a situation like the scene in “the movie ‘Bridesmaids’ when the bridesmaid on a budget had to get the expensive dress because of the group decision,” says Lee. 

Hair and Makeup

If you have professional hair and makeup artists available the morning of the wedding, Carter says paying for your bridesmaids is a “delightfully tasteful special treat.” Another option is to give the party the option to do their own rather than making it a mandatory expense.

Travel and Accommodation

Typically, guests are responsible for their own travel and lodging for the wedding night or weekend. But when it comes to the wedding party, they may have already had to pay for travel, so couples should be mindful of just how much they are asking. 

“I think the most common thing we see is asking your party to pay for a lot of travel, especially if they have to travel for the wedding and the bachelorette party,” says Elyse Dawn of The Wedding Planning Guide. 

Bachelorette Trips

Bachelorette trips are a hot topic as more and more couples opt for destination celebrations. Carter says, “If you've got it, flaunt it! I love expensive ones where you’re balling out. I will say, plan ahead and think about that cost and how it correlates to your wedding. Before an expensive destination, try and offset the cost of being in the wedding.”

This balance is really the key, experts say. “My take is that if you're having an expensive destination wedding, skip the expensive destination bachelorette party as a courtesy to friends' schedules and wallets,” Lee says. “For the ladies, as well, there is an additional bridal shower to throw, so that's a lot of out-of-pocket costs for your wedding party.”

Betsy Dawn of The Wedding Planning Guide says it’s all about knowing your group. “Your wedding party may live to travel and go big when they celebrate. Then definitely do that!” she says. “On the other end if you all just graduated college and are looking for jobs, then maybe a huge trip will be hard for everyone to pull off.” She adds that it’s important that a bride or groom not be offended if anyone declines the trip. 

Experts also suggest, you may want to discreetly offer to pay for one or two of the guests if they’re struggling with finances or are much younger than the rest of the group. And remember, no one says a destination trip is obligatory. “What happened to a downtown bar crawl in your own city?” asks Lee. 


Couples should always provide food for their wedding party, experts say. This includes at the wedding reception, of course, but also at the rehearsal dinner and on the wedding day while getting ready in the bridal suite. Don’t make people show up with their own breakfast and coffee that morning.

Additional Costs

Carter reminds couples of the hidden costs of a wedding party they may not think of right away. The couple is usually responsible for all the flowers required for the bridal party including bouquets and boutonnieres.

Also, there may be some extra travel the couples may pay for. If the wedding party needs to get to and from the venue for the rehearsal and photo shoot, consider getting buses, golf carts, or arranging for Ubers to transport everyone. 

One last thing couples should pay for is a gift of appreciation to the wedding party. This is important, experts say, as it’s a special acknowledgement to each member of the party that their loving efforts are not unnoticed. It could be matching robes, pajamas, jewelry, or cufflinks on the day-of. There’s also the customary gift that a bridesends their party when asking them to be in the wedding—usually a gift basket or a nice bottle of wine.

How to Talk About Money With Your Bridal Party

Step one as a couple, says Carter, is to understand the whole cost of what it takes to be in the wedding party. Before asking anyone, she strongly suggests budgeting for how much the party will be responsible for and how much it will cost the couple. Then, experts say couples should give their party an idea of the expectation. It may not be as cut and dry as, “Hey, this will cost you $1,000. Are you in?” But, if you tell everyone you plan to have a destination bachelorette trip, will be choosing the outfits, and are having a destination wedding, the group will have a pretty good idea that it won’t be a cheap endeavor. 

On the flip side, the bridal party should also be transparent with the couple on what they can and can’t afford. “To avoid later resentment, it's always great to express your concerns rather than bottling them up but come with solutions,” says Lee. She suggests asking the couple questions like, “Do you mind if I do my own hair and makeup?” or “What if we all wore different black suits but just the tie was Ralph Lauren?”

The top piece of advice experts have on this topic for the couple: Do not be offended if someone opts out of being in the wedding party and chooses to just be a guest. “Be as transparent as possible and give people the grace to say no,” says Carter. “You’re asking for a huge financial commitment. It is your wedding, not theirs.”

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