What Costs Should the Bride Cover for Her Bridesmaids?

There are a few items on this list that may need further discussion.
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Being asked to be a bridesmaid for a friend's wedding is exciting. But when the questions of travel, lodging, the bachelorette party and the wedding day itself arise, the bridesmaid may wonder, "Am I supposed to pay for that?" Money conversations are always awkward, but before you say yes to the honor of being a bridesmaid, it's important to understand what expenses each party is expected to pay.

Traditionally, bridesmaids are expected to pay for the following:

  • Wedding attire and accessories. This includes the dress (which will most likely be picked by the bride), alterations, shoes and other adornments.
  • Transportation to and from the wedding town or city
  • Gift for the couple (can purchase individually or contribute to a group gift)
  • Share in the cost of a bridesmaids' gift to the bride (optional)
  • Bachelorette party attendance cost (optional)

These are the costs that the bride should cover for her bridesmaids:

  • Bridesmaid's flowers
  • Lodging for out-of-town attendants
  • Transportation for the bridal party to ceremony and reception
  • Thank you gift to her attendants
  • Bridesmaids' luncheon, tea, or party (if hosted by bride)
  • Hair and makeup (if bride requires it be professionally done)

However, there are a few items on this list that may need further discussion.

Hair and makeup is an area that often comes into question. In the past, bridesmaids would fix their own hair and makeup and then meet the bride to help her finish getting ready. With wedding photographs becoming more important and costly, many brides want their attendants' hair and makeup to be professionally done. If the bride wishes for the bridesmaids to cover this cost, then it should be presented as an option, not a requirement. The bridesmaid can then choose to do her own hair and makeup. If it's something the bride requires, then the bride should pick up the tab.

Matching accessories is other matter often discussed. If a bride wants her bridesmaids to have matching accessories, then she should purchase those also. Many brides will give thank-you gifts that can be worn on the day of the wedding, such as jewelry or hair accessories.

Accommodations for the bride's attendants can be a subject that causes confusion. Traditionally, the bride's family provides accommodations for her out-of-town attendants, whether in a hotel or arranging for them to stay with family or friends. With the growing popularity of destination weddings (24 percent in 2013), and many unmarried friends having live-in significant others, this tradition seems to be evolving and is one area in which experts do not agree. For a destination wedding, we feel the bride should cover the accommodation costs for her attendants, if at all possible. If the attendant wishes to share a room with her significant other, then the bride might offer to pay for half the room cost.

The bride should be considerate of her friends' financial situations when selecting the dress and shoes. The bride may even discreetly offer financial assistance if she knows that someone may not be able to bear the entire financial burden. Above all, the bride and her attendants should discuss the costs, expectations and budget openly so that there are no surprises.

When accepting the honor of being a bridesmaid, knowing your financial obligation is important. Be sure you can fulfill your role without becoming resentful. The bride is counting on her bridesmaids to help with planning, give emotional support, as well as greet guests and mingle. The duties and costs of being a bridesmaid may seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that the best job a bridesmaid has is sharing in the friendship and memories that will last a lifetime.

Do you have questions or comments about gift giving or wedding etiquette? Please email me at AskCheryl@registryfinder.com.

RegistryFinder.com is an online search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations and more.

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