Who pays for bridesmaids' dresses?

My Bitches
Photo by Gathering Light Photography
I've told my bridesmaids that they can wear any black dress of their choosing.

Since I'm not requiring them to buy an actual bridesmaid's dress (ick), should I offer to pay a sort of stipend for a new dress that they will probably buy for the wedding anyway?

Or are they on their own if they choose to buy a new dress?

— Sarah, aka Lady Vengeance of the Garden State Rollergirls

Sarah first off: yay for letting your bridesmaids pick their own dresses. Second off, yay for making it something easy and pragmatic like a black dress, something most of us already own and have plenty of opportunities to wear. Third off: yay for being considerate of your ladies' financial concerns. Three yays for you, bad ass!

In the US, typically bridesmaids pay for their own dresses — even when it's some floral-print poofy-sleeved thang required by the bride. In the UK, however, it's standard for the bride to pay for dresses.

[related-post align="right"]BUT! Despite your yankee status, I think you're safe without offering a stipend — since you're letting the ladies pick their own dresses, not insisting that they buy something new, and ensuring that if they DO buy, they're buying something they like that they can wear many times (who doesn't need a new little black dress?). That said, it's good of you to consider it. Your bridesmaids are lucky to have you as a friend.

  1. That is exactly what I'm doing! I've had to wear too many beautiful but impractical dresses in weddings. I want something my friends LIKE and can wear again. All the color will be in the flowers and stuff.

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  2. I originally let my girls vote on the dress the like out of 12 different dresses and the loved the consensus dress, but it turned out that it is not in stock on a regular basis,so I made the same change of letting them pick our their little black dress dress and gave them a look guideline. I want them to be able to pay whatever they are comfortable with. Some girls are cool paying $100+ for the dress and my girlfriend who has just started back grad school just bought hers for $30 at Forever 21. All I ask for is leopard shoes. How hot is that?

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  3. I love the leopard shoes touch. I think it's a fabulous idea!

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  4. I'm doing the same thing with my bridesmaid's too. Who doesn't love a little black dress?

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  5. I'm in Australia and the question of who pays seems to vary. The first time I was a bridesmaid, our dresses were made by a dressmaker and I didn't have to pay (but I also didn't get a lot of input). The second time I was a bridesmaid, I paid for my dress and had a bit more say in what we chose.

    For my wedding, I am having the same girls as bridesmaids. I contributed a set amount ($200) towards their dresses. I suggested that they pick different dresses but they both wanted to match!

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  6. I think I'll be paying for my bridesmaids dresses. I've managed to save money elsewhere and don't want both my grad-school-going gal pals to have to shell out money for "MY SPECIAL DAY!!1!"

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  7. Those of us with a closet full of once-worn pastel concoctions thank brides like you.

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  8. My 4 bridesmaids all agreed to buy their own dresses (I'm in the UK) and so I said that as long as they all had similar shades of green that they could wear what they wanted.

    THEN, I found the most perfect green and pink bold flowery dress in the sale for just £30 each! Seeing as it's more 'me' than any of them, and I know they won't wear them again, it seemed fairer that I bought them.

    £120 for 4 dresses! Woohoo!

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  9. I think as long as you're considerate of your maids price range you're good. I had a set limit in my head and told the dress shop that limit before I even began looking. It kept all the utterly gorgeous but ridiculously priced dresses out of my sight and the dresses we ended up picking were well below the bridemaids budgets.

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  10. bless you, ladies, who take your friends' wallets into account! i've been a bridesmaid exactly twice. once i was asked to wear a black cocktail dress of my choosing. the other time i was asked to wear a glorified burlap sack that set me back about $250. (though i actually wore it again, to ariel's seattle book launch party!) call me cranky, but guess which friend i lost respect for? ;)

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  11. I am also going the LBD route. I asked my ladies to wear whatever made them feel like a knock-out as long as it is black. I also let them know that they are not required to buy something new and that thrift store dresses are a-ok. xo

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  12. i'm having my bridesmaid pick a black dress from the same (cheaper) bridal shop. this way, all the blacks match, but they can find styles that fit their style. for example, my 13 year old sister and my best friend who just had a baby are both bridesmaids and will probably have different body issues. also, by having them all buy dresses from david's bridal, they have the option of purchasing off of ebay, where there are tons of black david's bridal dresses for about $40.

    in terms of who pays, i'm paying for the dress of the bridesmaid who is also flying in.

    also, i think i'm going to have to copy the leopard print shoe thing. that's an amazing idea!

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  13. I did decide on a "same outfit" for all of my b-maids but I tried really hard to find something they could and would wear again, not even for a nice night out, but for their jobs. 2 of them were job hunting at the time. Instead of the standard "dress" I decided on a nice 3 piece business look. Vest, Blouse and Skirt. Modern, they can wear what they like again and they don't have to wear it all as the same outfit every time. It was less than $100 and while I didn't pay for them, they still thank me for getting them something that has actually helped them out after the wedding. Who would have thought I'd hit H&M for my bridesmaid dresses… I didn't.

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  14. And here I thought I'd come up with a really original idea by letting my bridesmaids pick out their own LBD! I'm paying for them, but I made it clear that that was their "bridemaids gift". Also better than paying for hair/makeup – after all, now they have a LBD that reminds them of you every time they wear it!

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  15. I have had to wear so many bridesmaid dresses that have just ended up in the closet and being unused after that one night of partying! I think that letting them pick their dresses and picking a color that can be appropriate for other occasions I believe is the best way to go…..also I know that spending money on a dress sucks but I believe that its a special day and you were going to need to buy a dress anyway to go to the wedding.
    I do feel that giving a present to your bridal party is of utter importance and it doesn't have to be something outrageous or super expensive, but something that they will cherish in the future. I know that giving pearls to your bridal party is an old tradition but a beautiful one and I know that there are some really inexpensive sites that offer pearl and other types of jewelry for really cheap. (premiumpearl.com, and artfulwears.com are just two that I can think of, off the top of my head)

    My point is brides remeber to be nice to your bridesmaids, they do have to put up with your bridezilla moments and bridesmaids remeber that you do love the bridezilla and that it is her special day!!!!
    xoxo

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  16. I'm going to give my bridesmaids silver necklaces the morning of the wedding, that way its a gift they can keep and also they will appear in all our photos too.

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  17. Ok I'm Filipino and in our culture we pay for EVERYTHING….but I have a budget to stick to. I see that most ppl have the b-maids pay for the dresses as long as they are affordable and they would be worn again. But as for the groomsmen for the rental of the tux do they pay or do we???HELP PLS.

    Confused Bride to Be……

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  18. No way! that was totally the same idea I had for my wedding and everyone was like "what??? you aren't telling them what to wear???" ….i go to a university full of VERY traditional, VERY conservative, VERY well off individuals. They were even stunned that my fiancee is designing his wedding ring on his own since he designed mine…dude its his ring like i care. but props to you!!! I'm probably getting all my maids to find a white dress since I want mine outdoors in the summer…and I don't intend to wear a white dress myself.

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  19. i bought my bridemaids dresses but now my one maid is preagant can,t fit the dress three weeks to go ain,t really got the money for another dress so got another maid and now the first maid is upset. what should i do? ask her to buy a dress similar colour to the theme that would be comfortble for her.

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  20. I'm doing the same and then providing accessories (sashes, shoes, jewelry)in the wedding colors for the ladies to wear on the day of. That way I get a bit of the look I want and my bridesmaids get something they actually like.

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  21. this is a GREAT idea! my sister is my M.O.H and she is a size 2. and my bff is a size 12 so this is a great way to give every one a way to get a new dress, look and FEEL HOT, and also not a waste of $$!! besides, uniform is so yesterday!;)

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  22. I'm getting married next June (4 pm ceremony in a church). I am going with little black dresses for my bridesmaids as many of you have done (or wore in prior weddings). My question for you – what the your groomsmen wear? Tuxes or Suites?

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  23. I just got married last month and when it came to the bridesmaid dresses, I gave my 2 girls our colors (Purple and Green) and told them to go pick out something that will look good on them. (Both of them had vastly different body types) Since the groom and I wore matching Chucks (we're both big Doctor Who fans), I gave that option. They wanted to wear heels. But everyone looked lovely and felt beautiful.

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  24. I'm in the UK & initially offered to buy my two main bridesmaids dresses, two other good friends asked if they could be bridesmaids too and offered to buy their own dresses on the basis that they'd be buying a new dress anyway… One of the 'team' found a fab 1950's style swing dress on Pinterest, I ordered one for everyone to try first and everyone loved it (were going to add petticoats for added awesomeness) and as an added bonus it was on sale and was ridiculously cheap Just over £20 each (compared to the £200 we were looking at with traditional styles) so all the bridesmaids jumped at the chance to help me out and buy their own (we have a tiny tiny budget) and I'm now buying a matching one in white for my dance floor dress in the evening lol

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