Skyla Walton Photography

Asking one of your nearest and dearest friends to be your bridesmaid on your wedding day can be a heart warming and happy experience full of love and warm wishes.

However....this excitement can quickly turn to terror when you tell them you are all popping off to Vera Wang in search of the bridesmaid dresses that she will be paying for.

If you decide your bridesmaids are to pay their way, then consider first whether your friends can afford your bridesmaids wish list. A list of possible costs to be incurred by a bridesmaid may include;

  • the bridesmaid dress
  • the wedding shoes
  • the bridesmaids accessories
  • the hair
  • the makeup
  • pre-wedding beauty such as manicures and pedicures
  • pre-wedding parties such as the bridal shower and hens party
  • your wedding gift

From the list above you can see that the expenses could easily run into the thousands. With this in mind you really should be upfront about what you will be paying for and what you expect your bridesmaids to pay for.

The bridesmaid dress

The general rule was that bridesmaids pay for their own dresses but this is changing particularly if it will be a dress they will never have the opportunity to wear again. If you expect them to pay for their dresses, expect them to have a say in what they wear. 

Some suggestions for keeping costs down for your bridesmaids is to go halves with your bridesmaids in the cost of the dress. If you are getting them made you could pay for the fabric and your bridesmaids could pay for the dressmaking or vice versa.

Hiring a bridesmaids dress is another option particularly if you want a very formal gown that will be expensive to make and most likely never worn again. The cost to hire bridesmaids dresses vary. 

Wedding dress boutiques usually also sell bridesmaids dresses designed to go with the wedding dresses they sell, although these dresses are not always cheap. 

You may find that buying designer dresses on sale a better option for your bridesmaids, considering they are more likely to wear the dress again. Try stores such as Witchery, Scanlan Theodore, Ginger and Smart and Zara.

You can browse the Buy Swap Sell in the i-do Forums for the pre-loved bridesmaids dresses of fellow i-do members.

Wedding tip :

If your bridesmaids are forking out hundreds of dollars for their own bridesmaids dress make sure they love it - don't expect them to be happy about paying for something that they look hideous in and hate.

The shoes

Shoes can be a great bridesmaid gift, but only give them as a gift if you are certain they will be thrilled to have them on their feet.

Always try and buy on sale or ask for a discount when buying four or more of the same style. If you are going designer such as Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo then make sure your bridesmaids are willing and able to buy them or pay for them yourselves.

Your bridesmaids may already have a pair of shoes they are happy to have covered in suitable fabric.

The accessories

The bridesmaids accessories and jewellery make the perfect bridal party thank you gift, such as a gorgeous pair of classic pearl earrings or an elegant lariat pendant.

If you have another bridal party gift in mind, ask if your bridesmaids already have a classic pair of pearl or diamante (or diamond) earrings, a bracelet or pendant that will be suitable for the wedding day or perhaps a friend or family member is willing to share their jewels for the day.

The hair and makeup

This is covered by either the bride or the bridesmaids. If the bridesmaids are covering this cost make sure the hair and makeup artist you use is affordable.

Pre-wedding beauty

Such as manicures, pedicures, spray tans and facials are covered by the bridesmaids at their discretion. If you insist all nails are buffed and polished for the big day, then cover the cost yourself or enlist a nail worthy friend that can help out on the day with a quick buff and polish.

Pre-wedding parties

This is their domain, the bride doesn't pay for any of it, you just turn up. The bridesmaids usually have everyone contribute an amount for the hens party and/or weekend. The bridal showers are mostly covered by the bridesmaid.  They may request some guests bring a bottle if it's to be a big day. The mother of the bride and groom are usually welcome to help out here too with food and a punch or two!!

Whatever you decide financially, consider your nearest and dearest's bank balance and don't send them into debt!

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