Ideas & Inspiration

Brides vs. Bridesmaids: What Bridesmaids Pay For At A Wedding?

By Katie Stow
who pays for bridesmaids dress

While weddings are obviously all about celebrating the happy couple and the big milestone their relationship has hit, if we’re being honest, weddings are also about budgets, planning and a fair bit of financial mind-f*ckery. And one of the trickiest elements to navigate (bar whether you can put two feuding family members on the same table) is who exactly should be paying for what when it comes to bridesmaids.

Between the bridesmaids dress, shoes, hair and makeup and the pre-wedding celebrations like the Hen’s Party and kitchen tea, it can be hard to figure out who actually foots the bill. To make things a little more transparent (and to give you some well researched stats to fall back on), we’ve run through each of the billable elements of a wedding and divvied up who should be paying for what.

Brides vs. Bridesmaids: Who pays for the bridesmaids dress?

Let’s kick off with a biggie, shall we? The bridesmaids dress is a central part of the whole look and feel of the wedding – often championing the key colour theme and setting the tone for the style of the day.

Traditionally, bridesmaids all wore the exact same dress in the exact same colour, which was chosen by the bride and somewhat agreed to by the bridal party. However, times have definitely changed, with bridesmaids today wearing different shaped dresses in the same hue, the same silhouette in different shades or even entirely mismatched dresses, jumpsuits or co-ords. Now these bridesmaid-boundaries are either dictated by the bride or the floor is opened up to a conversation about what the bride tribe want to actually wear on the wedding day.

With this sartorial flexibility has come a bending of traditions with brides assuming that if the power is placed in the bridesmaid’s hands then they will pay for the privilege. Literally.

But what is the norm when it comes to footing the bridesmaids dress bill? We turned to the One Fine Day audience to find out what they deemed more usual: The bride paying or the bridesmaids paying?

Over 61% say that it should be the bride that pays for the bridesmaid dress.

However, if the bridesmaids are paying, then there’s a level of payment that the majority are happy to go to – with a clear sign that no one (we repeat, no one) is chill with paying over $300 for a bridesmaids dress that they didn’t get to choose.

To break that down in stats…

113 people only wanted to pay under $100 for a bridesmaids dress

526 were happy to cough up between $100 and $200 for a bridesmaids dress

329 would stretch their budget to cover $200 and $300 for a bridesmaids dress

…but beyond that – you’re on your own brides!

Brides vs. Bridesmaids: Who pays for the hen party?

Bachelorette parties have become a staple in pre-wedding hype, bringing together the bridal party, friends and family of the bride and often a large selection of penis straws too. While it’s often agreed that the Maid of Honour and the bridesmaids will organise the festivities (read: hilariously inappropriate games and a stripper), it’s not often publicised who foots the bill.

In the One Fine Day office, we have a mixture of histories, with the general consensus being that all attendees of the hen’s party will chip in for the event. A cost per-head coverage if you will. However, most admit that zero dollars are covered by the bride – making this cost fall purely on the bridesmaids and their guests.

On our Instagram poll, a whopping 63% agreed that the bridesmaids pay for the bachelorette party.

Brides vs. Bridesmaids: Do bridesmaids need to buy the bride and groom a wedding gift?

Now this one can be tricky as it is standard practice for all wedding guests to get the happy couple a gift – whether that’s something from their registry or even straight-up cash. But when, as a bridesmaid, you’ve potentially shelled out for a hen’s party, a dress, an engagement parry gift and god knows what else, it can seem a little harsh to expect a personalised present out of your pocket for the bride and groom too.

That’s probably why 56% of you said that there is simply no need for bridesmaids to buy a wedding gift for the couple.

Brides vs. Bridesmaids: Who pays for the hair and makeup on the wedding day?

Now this one wasn’t even in our brain space until a fellow colleague piped up that she was surprised on the actual wedding day with having to pair the hair and makeup artist in cash for their wedding look! It seems that the wider public was equally shocked by this sentiment, with 81% of you saying bridesmaids should definitely NOT be shelling out for professional hair and makeup.

bridesmaids pay for what

While we’re on the topic, regardless of whether as a bride you’re paying for or asking your bridesmaids to cough up for the hair and makeup artist, it’s always best to give as much notice as possible. No one wants to find out on the day that they need to drum up some cash, or (potentially even worse) will be doing their own hair and makeup! …That last one may just be tapping into an extreme fear of my own. Absolutely rubbish with makeup. Always have been, always will be.

…So there we have it! A wrap up of what brides and bridesmaids should be paying for – or at least what our wider One Fine Day Instagram audience believes it should be!

Editor of One Fine Day

All imagery by Dean Snushall, who you can find out more about via his website and Instagram.

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