You have a lot of close friends and all of a sudden...everybody is getting married! Are you having to budget your friends' life decisions into your finances to pay for the bachelorette party, dresses, accessories, hair, makeup, jewelry, and travel expenses?
Yes, bridesmaids are pretty much expected to pay for their own wedding day fashions! But, hopefully the bride will select something that is reasonably priced. Also, if the wedding planning is done properly you will have a wide spread of months to pay for the honor to be a part of your friends' weddings.
So before you say 'YES' to the honor, find out what kind of plans are being made so you can budget accordingly! If you cannot afford it, be honest and let the host know your situation. After all, you are friends...they should understand. Many brides will offer to assist you in some way so that you can be there by their sides. But don't accept and become resentful later or drop out due to finances.
If the bride is able to work it into her budget, it is very thoughtful to pay for all or a portion of the bridesmaids' dresses. However, most brides cannot afford to do that. So keep that in mind when making your selection. Hopefully, in that case, the bride is having a small, sensibly priced wedding.
If you (as the bride) select a bridesmaid dress that is $300 or higher, either cover your friends' costs or share in a portion to make it reasonable. Try to keep your choice under $200, if possible. Some brides send the bridesmaids a color swatch and allow them to select a dress in that color range. The brides ask for approval of the final selection to ensure the dresses are compatible, complimentary, and photo perfect for your special day. The bridesmaids pay for their special selection and have a nice dress that they will love to wear after the wedding, as well.
If you are having custom-made dresses produced for your ladies, then you should pay for the fabric and garment trimmings. Your ladies should only have to pay for the cost of garment construction.
As far as hair and makeup, if the look and style is something special that the bride requires, then the bride should pay for the services. The bride, generally, pays for the bridesmaids' flowers, transportation for the bridal party to ceremony and reception (if needed), thank you gifts, spa party including hair, makeup, nails, and pedis. Paying for lodging for out-of-town attendants or finding a place for them to stay is highly appreciated, but not expected. If the bride requires her team to wear matching jewelry accessories, it is great to be give them as part of the thank you gifts.
If you are having a destination wedding, these can get pretty expensive for the bridal party. If your party is paying for their own exotic journey, then you should cover the costs of the dresses. You should at least help out with one or another unless you have some very well-off friends!
If your wedding is a cultural event with traditional costumes, you should provide and pay for the garments for your wedding party. After all, it is probably something most of the ladies will never wear again.
Being a part of your friends' special day is an honor...one that a lot of people do not get the privilege to share. Remember, it's usually a sharing experience where everyone shares in participating in each others' wedding day or other special events. So...your turn to pay today and their turn to pay tomorrow! Enjoy making memories with your friends!