Wedding Planning

Bridal Party Costs: Who Pays for What?

Bridal Party Costs

Asking your bridal party to be involved in your day is a pretty special moment. After all, these are the people standing by your side throughout one of the most memorable days of your entire life!

But amongst all of the excitement, there can also be some confusion when it comes to expenses. From bridesmaid gowns to makeup and pre-wedding parties, who is actually responsible for covering the costs involved?

Navigating bridal party costs can be an awkward topic to broach, so we think it’s important to set expectations upfront. While there are no hard and fast rules to follow (and ultimately, it should come down to what each person feels comfortable with), there are some etiquette tips you should keep in mind to manage the situation.

So, who pays for what when it comes to bridal party costs? Keep reading for our guidelines on all things expenses.

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Photo by Eden Strader

Wedding Party Attire

When it comes to bridesmaids and groomsmen attire, it’s generally understood that your wedding party will purchase their own outfit and shoes. However, this can also be a bit of a grey area depending on how much flexibility you’re actually providing them.

For example, if you’ve requested a specific, non-negotiable dress for your bridesmaids that might not necessarily be to their taste or fit their budget, the fair route would be to cover this cost yourself either partially or in full. The same rule applies for accessories. If you want your bridal party to wear a particular set of earrings or other jewelry piece, you should consider purchasing these too (or make it a sweet bridesmaid gift!).

The alternate option is to simply set a colour scheme and allow your wedding party to choose their own outfit accordingly. This allows them to find an outfit that suits both their own style and budget, and they’ll often be more than happy to make this purchase themselves. Or, if you really have your heart set on a formal dress for your girls, meet somewhere in the middle and consider hiring the gowns instead.

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Photo by Greer Gattuso

Hair and Makeup

Again – if you want your bridesmaids to get their hair and makeup done professionally in a specific way by a specific artist, this should really come out of your own pocket or be at least partially covered. However, if professional hair and makeup is optional, your bridesmaids can either choose to do this themselves, use their own preferred stylist, or book in with yours.

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Photo by Sarah Jansson

Travel and Accommodation

If you’re hosting a destination wedding that requires an overnight stay, it can be a nice gesture to chip in for your bridal party accommodation costs in some way (for example, organising a group Airbnb or negotiating a discount on hotel room blocks). However, you’re definitely not expected to cover flights, spending money or other travel-related expenses.

And for transportation to the actual ceremony itself (whether your wedding is local or abroad), the responsibility is on you and your partner.

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Photo by Amy Lou Photography

Pre-wedding Celebrations

When it comes to pre-wedding celebration costs, the first question to ask is – who’s hosting? For bucks and hens celebrations hosted by your wedding party, this is completely their domain! The general expectation is that expenses will be split between all attendees (excluding yourself). This allows your wedding party to plan a celebration that fits within everyone’s budget.

However, when it comes to events you’re hosting yourself (like rehearsal dinners or engagement parties), this will need to be covered by you and your partner.

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Photo by This Modern Romance

Keep the Conversation Open

Managing expectations for bridal party expenses doesn’t have to be awkward, but we do recommend broaching the topic early so each person can budget accordingly. Let your wedding party know which expenses you’d love to cover for them, and have an open chat about any shared or optional costs like hair and makeup or accommodation.

And finally, remember your reasoning for having a wedding party in the first place. Ultimately, it’s because you seriously love and cherish these special people – not because you want them to look a certain way or help foot your wedding bill!

Loved these tips? Read our complete guide to wedding party roles and responsibilities here!