The "Right" Way To Split The Costs With Bridesmaids ?

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
1715 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

@HopefulSim:  My bridesmaids just have to buy their dresses.  Shoes just have to be a certain color, probably black (which they all already own) and as far as accesories go, they can wear what they want (I know their style enough to know they will all look nice)  Hair and make-up, once again they can do what they want.  I’m pretty sure my sister is just going to do my hair so they will probably just do their own or each others.  None of them have to travel so I’m not sure how I would handle the whole accomodation thing, but I would assume they pay for own accomodations.  I just told them, the only thing that they have to do is wear the dress I pick out and black shoes, after that they can do what they want, they were all pretty happy with that.

Post # 4
939 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013 - The Down Town Club, Philadelphia

Because my wedding party is having to fly to another city and put themselves up in hotels, I bought their dresses and I’m paying for their hair and makeup on the day of the wedding.

They have had to buy shoes (that I chose, bought from at a big discount) and they are on their own for accessories. 

Throughout the planning, I’ve been very clear with them about what is expected of them – $$ wise and time wise.

Clear communication is key! Laughing

I’ve sent a few “Team Bridal Newsletters” – not a lot, just like, 3, over 18 months.

Post # 5
42166 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

There is no “right” way to handle the expenses. Much depends on local practice and tradition. Maybe the New Zealand Bees can help you with that?

In the UK, I understand that the bride and groom pay for almost everything. In the USA most BM’s buy their own dresses, shoes etc. The bride pays if she demands specific hair and makeup.Some brides who have the financial capability do cover the costs for their BM’s.


Post # 6
7055 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@HopefulSim:  Dresses and shoes: I’m not sure what NZ tradition is. North American tradition is the bridesmaids pay, UK tradition is the bride pays. I did a survey a while ago, and here in Australia there was about an equal split on who should pay. And I’m guessing NZ is similar. So if you’re hoping for the BMs to pay, it should be ok, but at least sound them out first. 

Accessories, hair, makeup: most people agree that if it’s anything special (like a hairdresser or makeup artist) the bride should pay.

Accomodation and transport: usually guests pay. Implicit in accepting a wedding invitation is that you’ll make your own way there and find somewhere to stay (if appropriate). Some people do choose to house their closest family and/or bridal party, but it’s not expected.

I paid for my BMs’ dresses and shoes, partly because it seemed like the right thing to do, but also because I’m bad at asking for money! I also paid for their accessories. So my BMs had no expenses at all, except for a very low cost hens’ night (bachelorette party).

Post # 7
10748 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

I don’t care what they wear for shoes, and I’m buying them necklaces to wear. I haven’t done anything about earrings actually, now that I think about it. I’ll pay for their hair. Basically they just have to come here and pay for the dresses.

Post # 8
3996 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

I agree…there is no “right” way. It depends on each bride and her group. My BMs are paying for their dresses and shoes (they are free to wear shoes they already own), hair and makeup. I only gave them basic guidelines on their dresses-has to have some cobalt blue in it (one of my colors) and be knee to floor length as the wedding is in December in Missouri. Everything else is up to them. I did ask them to pick a dress they loved and that didn’t break the bank (it can have patterns, designs, etc.). I am not 100% on makeup yet. My BMs can have whatever hairstyle suits them and most of them do an incredible job styling their own hair. I suck at doing anything to mine so am getting it professionally done. Luckily, all of the BM and GM live in town so they do not have to worry about accommodations unless they want to.

Post # 9
1102 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

We are paying for the shoes and hair/makeup and brooch bouquet (that they get to keep afterward) plus a gift each.


They are paying for the dress and the accessories.


They can bring their own clutches/bags. I only have two BMs and their dresses don’t match in any way (not even the colour, although they’re both in the ‘brown’ colour family) so this is going to be ‘interesting’ on the day. 

Post # 10
478 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I’m in Australia and the girls are buying their own dresses. A makeup artist is available should they wish to pay for her services. But I’m not fussed if they do or don’t use her.

@amyinbrisbane: Hey my bridesmaids won’t match in any way either! They’re not even in the same colour family. And I have 5! I think it’s going to look great 🙂 I’m sure yours will too. It’s nice to see some personality in the bridesmaids.

Post # 11
918 posts
Busy bee

I’m also in New Zealand, and my understanding is that generally the bride pays for everything – dresses, shoes, hair and make-up (if required), jewellery, accessories – the lot.  That’s why you don’t often see huge bridal parties in NZ – too expensive for the bride and groom!

Post # 12
55 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: April 2016

The last wedding I was in we had to pay for everything, dress, shoes, travel, hair, makeup. I was very upset because I spent the “getting ready” portion of the day running around the church looking for the brides veil that the janitor moved while cleaning and misplaced, so even though I had to pre-pay almost $100 for hair and makeup by the time the veil was found the hair/makeup people had already left. 

My bridesmaids will be paying for their own shoes and dresses, as they get to pick them, and we are asking a few of my moms friends to do hair and makeup for free on the day of, and my mom is providing the makeup (she sells mary kay) 

If I was chosing dresses that I knew my Bridesmaids were not going to like, or in a style/color that they for sure would not wear again, I would pay for their dresses, Or my one friend, hates heels, depending on her feelings on the shoes that get decided on, I will pay for her shoes and take them off her hands after the wedding but only because I have a sick addiction to heels and we have the same size feet. 

Post # 13
918 posts
Busy bee

@paula1248:  NZ tradition is very much like UK tradition, where the bride generally pays for the bridesmaid dresses.  As you say, in Australia they sometimes follow US tradition (bridesmaids pay), and sometimes follow NZ/UK tradition (bride pays).

Post # 14
1248 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

@HopefulSim:  I’m Australian and in my bridal party and most of my friends bridal parties the bridesmaids pay for the dress (and groomsmen pay the suit rental) and the bride/groom foot the bill for make up, hair, specific acessories they want worn etc. Shoes I don’t know but I’ve told mine to pick what they want.

I do have friends though who have paid for the bridal parties attire themselves though so it can go both ways here. Both girls I’m having in mine just assumed they would buy their own dress and are happy to do so (I made sure they had a big say in what we chose though).

Post # 15
857 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

How I prefer it to be done:

1. Ask them what they can afford for a bridesmaid dress (it’s expected where I live that they pay for that). STICK TO THE LOWEST #, or if that number is a lot less than the others’, pay the difference.

2. Pick a dress that everyone at least tolerates. No point in making them spend their top dollar on an ugly-ass dress. Thats just MEAN. If they’re really different in their styles, be the bride that lets them pick different dresses in a color scheme. Don’t be a dictator.

3. Let them pick shoes in a color scheme, or else offer to pay for them yourself.

4. Pay for hair and makeup for them – unless they’re all big ballers or do this a lot for themselves.

5. Pay for accommodations for everyone the night before the wedding if you want them all in one place.

Everyone’s happy!! 🙂

Post # 16
1849 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

I’m covering the cost of the dress, and hair and makeup.  Dresses are long, so they can wear whatever shoes they want.  Accessories, same thing.  I plan to gift them each with fine jewelry, but they are in NO WAY required to wear it for the wedding.  One of my BFF’s is still complaining because I won’t let her wear her blue jeans. SMH.  She’s a bestie I’ve known for 25 years; she’ll bitch, but she’ll show up looking nice and suffer through it.  🙂

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