What Should Bridesmaids Pay For?

When it comes to weddings and being a bridesmaid, there are usually expenses involved. Whenever you mix friends and money, things can always get uncomfortable, and when you throw in the stress and chaos of wedding planning, it’s usually a conflict waiting to happen.

What you don’t want is this reaction from your girls when it comes to trying to check off your to-buy list…

dress 2

Fortunately there are some easy guidelines to follow to help eliminate problems with your girls down the road!


Here’s my go-to list for what bridesmaids should pay for:


Most bridesmaids are expecting to have to purchase a dress, and will usually do so willingly. However, you want to mindful of your girls’ budgets when making your bridesmaid dress selection. You never want to make one of your bridesmaids feel like they have to spend more money than they freely have on a dress that they’ll only wear once.

Photo Credit: Sam Stroud Photography

There are some amazing new options out there to help keep costs down for your bridesmaids. Some of my favorite sites right now are Vow To Be Chic, Rent The Runway and Lulu’s. Giving your girls to ability to rent a dress for a fraction of the price, or buy a less-formal looking dress that can be worn again is always a good idea!

Accommodations/Hotel Room

If your wedding is taking place in a hotel or resort, it’s not outrageous to have your girls book their own rooms for the weekend. Make sure that they all receive the group rate under your room block or contract to help save a few dollars though!

Another idea to consider is how long you really need them on the property. If they do not need to stay at the hotel the night before the wedding, then don’t require them to all sleep there.* They can meet you bright and early the morning of the wedding for any hair/makeup appointments, and will be much more cheerful no matter what hour knowing they saved $100+ by sleeping in their own bed the night before.

*The exception here is of course out-of-town bridesmaids who may have no other option than to spend the entire wedding weekend at a hotel. 

Shoes & Accessories

I think it is totally reasonable to ask your girls to “purchase” their own shoes and accessories because ideally you should  be asking them to wear something they probably already own. Think nude heels, wedges or sandals and simply gold or silver jewelry.

If you are really adamant that all your bridesmaids have the same exact pair of matching shoes or statement necklace, consider making this their gift instead. Having you purchase this item for them would be far more meaningful to your girls than a novelty flask garter or customized champagne flute.

Hair & Makeup 

This item also had an exception to it – I say that bridesmaids should pay for their hair and makeup only because they have opted into wanting to get it done. If you are requiring all your girls to have both their hair and makeup done, consider covering the cost for them as your wedding day gift.

Photo Credit: Sam Stroud Photography

Some of my bridesmaids had just their hair or just their makeup done, and a few had both, but many of them just did their own thing that day and hung out with the rest of us in the hotel suite. They were still able to be part of the morning-of festivities without feeling pressured into spending money they didn’t have into a service they didn’t want.

The basic theme of this debate is if you are requiring your bridesmaids to wear or do anything on your wedding day that goes above or beyond the standard dress, consider floating the cost for them. If you can compromise on matching shoes or coordinating jewelry to help eliminate those extra purchases that add up quickly, you will have a much happier bridal party when the big day arrives!

What did you have your bridesmaids pay for on your wedding day? Do you agree with the items above? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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