It’s funny how different it can feel being a bridesmaid vs. a bride. If I’m being completely honest I can say that when I was a bridesmaid prior to being a bride, there were times when I definitely did a couple of eye rolls (to myself, not the bride…I swear!) about all the travel that was involved or how much things cost. Actually, even AFTER I got married I can remember an instance or two when that happened as well. But when I was a bride? It was kind of all about me…and guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that! HOWEVER, one thing I was always mindful of when planning my wedding (and you should be, too!) was trying to make certain things as cost effective as possible for the girls. While my bridesmaid dresses were on the pricier side at the time (around $200), I tried to cut other costs when I could, like having the bridal shower and bachelorette parties on the same weekend since they would both be out of town, and having relatives throw the bridal shower instead. Wedding day hair, makeup, shoes, and accessories were also completely up to them (I gave each necklaces to wear on the big day). While being a bridesmaid is still NOT cheap, there are ways to make the costs outlined below as painless as possible. So, here’s your quick primer to who pays for what when it comes to your bridesmaids!
Who typically pays: Bridesmaids
How much will it cost: Bridesmaid dresses can be free (“wear any short black dress you already own!”) to $300+.
Who typically pays: Bridesmaids, unless you’ve picked out a very specific necklace or shoe, in which case it would be proper for you to pay for that. I love the idea of gifting your bridesmaids with necklaces to wear on your big day.
How much will it cost: Ideally, free, as you would ask your bridesmaids to pick a shoe color they already own. Same goes for accessories (“wear any silver or gold earrings you have.”)
See More: 12 Rules Every Bridesmaid Should Live By
The Bridal Shower
Who typically pays: Bridesmaids usually throw the bridal shower for the bride, though in my case my sisters and a family friend did. My advice? If somebody graciously offers to throw a bridal shower, take them up on their offer.
How much will it cost: Per person cost can range from $30+/pp for food/beverages at a restaurant, or if you’re throwing it at somebody’s house you’ll have much more flexibility in terms of cost. If the bridal shower has a unique theme (IE: a lingerie shower) you’ll need to get a separate gift as well.
Who typically pays: This should be equally paid for by your entire bridal party. Usually the Maid of Honor will organize and get the funds from the girls before or after the event.
How much will it cost: As with the bridal shower this cost will vary drastically (and depend if you’re doing a destination bachelorette party in which case your cost for travel and activities could be in the thousands). The last bachelorette party I went to was dinner at a nice restaurant and drinks at a club, and we spent over $150/each once the bill was split up. Hiring, um, entertainment for the bride? You’ll most likely pay another $50/pp on top of that at least.
Travel To/From Wedding
Who typically pays: Bridesmaids. Of course if there is a bridesmaid who is unable to make your destination wedding but you really want them there and have the means, offering to contribute towards the flight and/or hotel would definitely be a great gesture!
How much will it cost: For destinations weddings costs can range from $700 and way, way up for flight and hotel for two nights, depending on location and time of year.
Who typically pays: If you want your bridesmaids to get their hair/makeup done, then this is something you would actually pay for. If you’re just offering the service to them in case they want it, then they would pay for it on their own.
How much will it cost: $150+ per bridesmaid for hair/makeup depending on your area.