What Your Bridal Party Should and Shouldn't Pay For (2024)

Weddings are not cheap—not for the couple, and not for their 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.

So, what do bridesmaids pay for? And what really should be covered by the couple? The answers aren't always widely understood or even clear. “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,” says Annie Lee, wedding planner and founder of Plannie.com. So, before locking your loved ones into it—or committing to being in someone's bridal party—make sure everyone is aware of what it might financially entail.

To help, 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.

A Complete Guide to Bridesmaid Duties

Wedding Expenses Bridesmaids and Bridesmen Should Pay For

Ahead, planners break down the expenses bridesmaids and bridesmen are typically expected to cover ahead of a couple's nuptials—but remind us that there is always room for nuance. "Every wedding is different in what a couple expects their bridal parties to pay for when participating in the wedding festivities," affirms Laura Ritchie of Grit & Grace.

Wedding Day Attire

One thing bridesmaids and bridesmen usually pay for are their outfits—including dresses, tuxedos, suits, and shoes. "I would say it's most typical that the bridesmaids are asked to purchase their own dresses for the wedding; instruction on style, fit, and color is presented by the bride ahead of time," says Ritchie. "With the increased popularity of mix and match styles, though, I think this is a great way for bridesmaids to fall in line without necessarily being on the hook for a traditional bridesmaid dress that costs hundreds of dollars."

If you aren't giving your bridal party the option to select their own big-day attire, 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—and you should adjust your expectations as a result.

If a 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," she shares. "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."

Travel and Accommodations

Typically, bridesmaids are responsible for their own travel and lodging for the wedding night or weekend. But this is yet another thing couples should pay close attention to—while these are expected costs, they quickly add up, especially if they're part of a destination wedding or participated in an expensive, far-flung bachelorette party. Couples should be mindful of just how much they are asking.“I think the most common [concern] 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.

Who Really Pays for the Bachelorette Party These Days?

Bachelorette Parties (Within Reason)

This is arguably one of the biggest bridal party etiquette questions out there: Who pays for the bachelorette party? Today, bachelorette trips are a particularly hot topic, since more and more couples are opting for expensive destination celebrations. Bridesmaids should cover most costs if the celebration is relatively budget-friendly or close to home (like a staycation). But this becomes a gray area if the pre-wedding event is a production. Though members of a bridal party are largely expected to pay their own way even for those destination trips, they aren't truly expected to cover the bride's portion, too. Instead, they might pitch in for a special dinner or just the bride-to-be's hotel costs (but potentially not her airfare).

To anyone planning or participating in a bachelorette party, it's important to make a game plan and clearly communicate with all attendees. "Plan ahead and think about that cost and how it correlates to your wedding," says Carter. "Before choosing 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.You may also 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.

The Bridal Shower (If Hosting)

As for who pays for the bridal shower? This is another expense some bridesmaids—and most commonly, the maid of honor—pick up. This is only true, however, if they are throwing or hosting the event independently. Ultimately, there aren't hard and fast rules about who hosts and pays for the bridal shower these days. Sometimes, this event is hosted by the mother of the bride and her family; other times, the couple contributes. In some cases, a mix of parties share the costs. Here's the main takeaway: If a maid of honor or set of bridesmaids want to host this event and divide up the costs, they can. We suggest clearly communicating any plans and expectations (someone else might want to own this pre-wedding party, instead, and the prep process might already be in motion) before anyone makes any assumptions.

How to Say No to a Bachelorette Party Invitation

Wedding Expenses Bridesmaids and Bridesmen Shouldn't Pay For

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 treat.” But if these services are absolutely mandatory, then costs should be fully covered. "In our opinion, if you are requiring the bridal party to get professional hair and make up without another option to DIY, then the [couple] should be open to paying for their bridesmaids' services," says Ritchie.

You can absolutely give the party the option to do their own, rather than making it a mandatory expense. "If it's optional, then covering those services is just a generous offer," affirms Ritchie.

Wedding Flowers

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 boutonnières.

Day-Of Transportation

"Transportation to and from events on the wedding day should be covered together with the bride's transportation," says Ritchie. "Not to mention that logistically, keeping everyone together works best for photos!" 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.

Snacks and Meals on the Wedding Day

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.

How to Talk About Money With Your Bridal Party

For couples, step one is understanding the whole cost of what it takes to be in the wedding party, says Carter. 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 duos 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 is ultimately for the couple: Don't 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.”

FAQ

  • What should a bridesmaid do if she's asked to cover a cost she isn't truly responsible for?

    Receiving a financial request that feels unreasonable can be frustrating—but try not to get defensive. Instead, speak with the bride about your concerns and see if there's a straightforward, calm way towards a solution. "Honesty and communication is always key. Not letting something simmer or be pushed under the rug for too long is pivotal to a drama free conversation about funds," says Ritchie.

  • How can brides communicate wedding costs to bridesmaids?

    Make this communication fun! "We love a slide deck presenting fashion options with pricing and ordering times or general estimates for bridal party members using hair and makeup services," says Ritchie. You can also lean on your maid of honor for help: "A super-star maid of honor is lovely when they can step up and chat through smaller costs that still add up (like bubbly the morning of the wedding) to higher costs, like bachelorette events," she explains.

  • Can a bridesmaid back out if costs become too high?

    In short, yes—but it's important to discuss this possibility in a delicate way that keeps your friendship intact. "Save the friendship first and foremost! Being a bridesmaid can be fun and honor, but if the cost is putting a strain on the bridesmaid's bank account and overtaking the joy of seeing a friend get hitched, we suggest discussing backing out," says Ritchie. "That honest conversation might just be the best route to ensuring love and friendship is the priority, and not just standing by in a matching dress."

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Bridesmaid Dress

What Your Bridal Party Should and Shouldn't Pay For (2024)

FAQs

What is the bridal party supposed to pay for? ›

One thing bridesmaids and bridesmen usually pay for are their outfits—including dresses, tuxedos, suits, and shoes. "I would say it's most typical that the bridesmaids are asked to purchase their own dresses for the wedding; instruction on style, fit, and color is presented by the bride ahead of time," says Ritchie.

Is it normal for bridesmaids to pay for everything? ›

While bridesmaids pay for quite a few expenses, not everything falls on them. These costs are most often covered by the bride or the couple instead.

How do you tell someone you can't afford to be a bridesmaid? ›

If you can't afford to be a bridesmaid because of umpteen bridal showers and bachelorettes and engagement parties and lingerie showers, then speak up, send one really thoughtful gift, and then politely decline attendance to all the other events.”

Is the bride supposed to pay for bridesmaids hair and makeup? ›

The Answer: It Depends

There's no definitive answer of who foots the bill on bridal party glam. That said, the bride or the bridesmaids will pay for the bridal party's hair and makeup. Some brides cover the cost of glam as a “thank you” to their friends for supporting the wedding.

What is the maid of honor responsible for paying for? ›

"We often see the maid of honor assist in covering the cost of the bridal shower (often in conjunction with a family member of the bride), covering her own costs and some of the costs of the bride for the bachelorette party (in conjunction with the rest of the bridesmaids), her own travel to and from the wedding, a ...

What do you ask bridesmaids to pay for? ›

Who pays for the bridesmaids' accessories? Similar to the shoes, it's usually the responsibility of the bridesmaids themselves to pay for any accessories they might want to wear, such as any jewellery or bags.

Is it rude to ask bridesmaids to pay for their dress? ›

Some couples are happy to fork out for their entire wedding party's ensemble, and wouldn't dream of asking their bridesmaids to pay. But others believe it should be the bridesmaids' responsibility to fund their own outfits. And others, while they'd like to pay for everything, just haven't got the budget for it.

What should bridesmaids be in charge of? ›

Attending all pre-wedding events, like the engagement party, wedding shower, Bachelorette party, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, etc. Running necessary errands during wedding planning, at pre-ceremony events, and even on the day of the wedding, if needed.

Is it OK to have bridesmaids but no maid of honor? ›

In fact, it is common particularly in more understated and low-key weddings to not have a maid of honour. There's no need to cause yourself stress if you don't want to choose between your sister and best friend or don't want to end up in an argument by promoting one bridesmaid above the rest.

Can you turn down maid of honor? ›

There are really legitimate reasons to say no to being a maid of honour or bridesmaid. These include planning your own wedding the same year, expecting a baby around the time of the wedding, anxiety issues, not having time due to a job change or house move, and not being able to attend the wedding date.

Who walks in with the mother of the bride? ›

The mother of the bride is traditionally escorted by her son if she has one. Otherwise, any close male relative, the best man, or a groomsman walks with the mother of the bride during the procession.

Can I ask my bridesmaids to pay for their own makeup? ›

Option 2: Bridesmaids Pay for Hair and Makeup

Another option is to let bridesmaids opt in–and pay for their own–hair and makeup. Hanna calls this a "more cost-effective" approach that will "give your bridesmaids freedom to see who they want," but also requires the bride to be more flexible about the outcome.

Who pays for mother of groom hair and makeup? ›

Who Pays for the Mother-of-the-Bride and Groom's Beauty Team? As with most beauty questions, there is no hard-and-fast rule. Some brides may offer to cover hair and makeup services in order to thank the wedding party for being a part of their special day.

What is a bridal party in charge of? ›

Your bridal party is the group of people who will stand by your side on your wedding day. They'll also help you plan all pre-wedding events in the lead-up to your big day.

What does the bride pay for traditionally? ›

Consider who traditionally pays for the wedding

Traditionally, the bride's family assumed most of the financial costs associated with a wedding, including the wedding planner, invitations, dress, ceremony, reception, flowers, photography, and music.

Is the bride supposed to pay for bachelorette party? ›

Exactly who pays for the bachelorette party will depend on the specific situation, but most commonly, the cost is split evenly between the attendants. Everyone is responsible for covering their own expenses, such as meals and accommodation, while also splitting the cost to cover most—or all—of the bride's expenses.

Are bridesmaids supposed to pay for the bridal shower? ›

According to standard etiquette practice, a bridal shower is paid for by the person hosting the event, who, in most cases, is the maid of honor.

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