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Bride or Bridesmaids: Who Pays For What (And How to Have The Talk!)

Bride or bridesmaids. Who pays for what? Like anything else money-related, this can be a tricky (and let’s be honest – awkward!) topic to navigate during the wedding planning process.

From bridesmaid dresses to hair, makeup and jewellery, bridal party expenses can quickly add up. And while there’s definitely no strict “rules” to follow, we’d say there’s a fair bit of etiquette involved when it comes to dividing up these costs.

Keep reading as we unpack who pays for what during the lead up to your day, and how to have “the talk” with your bride tribe to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Bride or Bridesmaids: Who Pays for What? Tweed Coast Weddings
Image by Nathan Lapham

So, who pays for what?

When it comes to bridal party costs, there’s really no universal rulebook. At the end of the day, it’s all going to come down to what you and your bridesmaids are both comfortable with.

With this being said, there are some general guidelines you can follow when it comes to splitting up your bridal party expenses. We’ve done the research, scoured the bridal blogs and spoken to real-life couples about their experiences. Here’s what we found!

Wedding day attire: Bridesmaid dresses are kind of a grey area, and can go both ways depending on a) the cost of the dress, and b) how much input your bridesmaids have into the dress selection.

The average cost of a bridesmaid dress ranges from $100 – $250, and we’ve found most bridesmaids are typically pretty happy to foot the bill for their gown – especially if they’ve had some input into the decision. However, if you’ve chosen an expensive dress in a non-negotiable style, we’d say it’s only fair for you to cover some or all of the cost. If you’re looking to make things more affordable for your girls, consider choosing a colour (or colour scheme) and letting them make the final decision.

What about shoes? Again, we’ve found most bridesmaids are happy to take on this financial responsibility, provided the cost is reasonable. You can create a happy medium by choosing a neutral colour like nude or white, and letting your girls find something suitable (or wear something they already own).

When it comes to the guys, the same rule applies. Research shows that groomsmen are generally happy to purchase their suit and shoes for the day, especially if they can wear them again.

Bride or Bridesmaids: Who Pays For What? Tweed Coast Weddings
Image by Kirk Willcox Photography

Hair and makeup: If you want your girls to get glammed up with professional hair and makeup, this is typically your responsibility. When it comes to the guys, covering the cost for a pre-wedding shave and grooming session is also common practice. Find the best of the best hair stylists and makeup artists on the Tweed via our directory!

Beauty: Pre-wedding beauty treatments like spray tans, nails and facials are another grey area. If you’re specifically requesting this from your girls, you should chip in to help cover the costs. But if you’re leaving it up to them, they’ll be responsible for footing the bill.

Accessories: The finer details such as jewellery and bridesmaid robes for the morning of your wedding are generally seen as a gifting opportunity from you to your bride tribe. The same sentiment applies to the guys, too – any special details like cufflinks or patterned socks can be gifted by the groom.

Bride or Bridesmaids: Who Pays For What? Tweed Coast Weddings Bride or Bridesmaids: Who Pays For What? Tweed Coast Weddings
Image 1: Ivy Road Photography / Image 2: Kirk Willcox Photography

Hens and bucks nights: These pre-wedding parties are 100% the financial responsibility of your wedding party! Typically, the total cost for these events is split between all of the attendees, including the cost to cover your head.

Accommodation and travel: If you’re planning a destination wedding, you don’t need to foot the bill for your wedding party when it comes to airfares and hotel rooms. However, if you want your bridal party to stay with you the night before the wedding, it’s generally expected that you’ll cover the cost for this group accommodation.

How to have the talk

Once you’ve figured out how you want to divide these expenses, it’s important to communicate this with your bridal party to ensure everyone is on the same page!

Being a bridesmaid or groomsmen can be confusing territory, so we’d suggest having this conversation as early as possible. This way, your bridal party will have a full understanding of their role, and can plan and budget accordingly.

Our tip? Keep it casual! Send a message in the group chat, or approach the conversation over dinner and drinks. Most importantly, make sure you give your bridal party the option to come up with a budget that suits all members.

For example: “Hey, just wanted to grab your thoughts on costs for the wedding. I’d love to pay for hair and makeup, accessories and nails. Are you happy to chip in for your dress and shoes? Let me know your thoughts so we can come up with a budget that everyone is comfortable with!”

Bride or Bridesmaids: Who Pays For What? Tweed Coast Weddings
Image by Nathan Lapham

Looking for bridal party inspiration? Check out our latest Real Weddings from across the Tweed Coast here!

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