Post # 1
Hi Hive! I have bridesmaid dress shopping coming up in a couple of weeks, and I have a money-related etiquette question I’d love some help with.
First, some background: I have one Maid/Matron of Honor and two bridesmaids. My Maid/Matron of Honor is a teacher, like me. My other bridesmaid is her stepsister and my close friend, who is in the middle of graduate school. The third is my sister, who is a 5th-year senior in college. My bridesmaids are all opinionated and fashionable women, and I want them to feel beautiful in whatever dresses we choose.
My wedding party vision includes the ladies in long dresses, but I am finding that long dresses are significantly more than I feel comfortable asking my bridesmaids to pay, especially given everyone’s current financial situation. My sister’s dress will be covered by my parents, so she isn’t a concern, but I would like to help with the cost for my Maid/Matron of Honor and my other bridesmaid. My Maid/Matron of Honor and I are super open about everything, and I have already mentioned this in passing, but I don’t want her stepsister/my friend to feel nervous or overwhelmed or embarrassed.
The question: What is the best way to offer to cover some of the cost so that no one is offended? If it helps provide context, I’ve found that most long dresses I think they would enjoy cost around $230-$260, but I think it’s more realistic to expect a bridesmaid dress to be around $120 (give or take a little).
So, how do I make this offer? Explain the situation up front before we go shopping? Come prepared with cash or check to help pay when/if we find something we want to purchase? Pay myself and ask them to reimburse what makes them comfortable? Everything I can think of seems awkward. I just don’t want it to be weird. Thanks in advance for your insights!
Post # 2
Usually the dress shops require a 50% deposit to order the dress. Tell the girls you’ll cover the deposit for each of them. I would include your sister in this as well, so you don’t make it awkward for the other two, and work out the financial stuff with your parents later.
Post # 3
I think you should first consult with the BMs on budget and style options. Then, if the dress you like is more expensive than that, or even if it’s not, tell them that you insist on covering a portion of the cost of the dresses and that it is your pleasure.
Post # 4
JiminyCricket: Good to know! And a great way to make it seem less awkward. Thanks so much!
A great point about my sister! Unfortunately, she lives in Oregon and it sounds like she won’t make it down for the shopping trip. But if she does, I’ll be prepared. I didn’t even think about that.
Post # 5
I think you should have them go try on dresses before worrying over money. There are plenty of dresses that are long & formal without spending nearly $300 on a dress. I paid for my girls dresses and they cost a little under $125 each.
Post # 6
jenilynevette: A very reasonable and rational take! Sometimes I overcomplicate my life by trying to plan ahead. Thanks for the info and the insight!
Post # 7
cateacherbee: I had long dresses and we got them at davids bridal. Surprisingly, they looked really great. They ranged from $79-$129.
Post # 8
I let my bridesmaids pick their dress. Told them what length, what material, and what color. From what I see from other weddings, it works out pretty well. They get to pick their budget this way, and you don’t have to have their opinions conflict with each other
Post # 9
I offered to pay for hair and makeup and the dress. The reaction to hair and makeup was “ok, thank you.” The reaction to the dress was a bit uncomfortable. I said that, to be practical, in lieu of a gift, I would pay for the dress. Then my BMs were more comfortable accepting. Just an idea for you.
Post # 10
cateacherbee: My girls all picked long dresses from a local bridal shop, and every single one was under $250 (even with the girl who needed to order a longer one for her height). I picked up $150 of the cost, so each of them paid about $30-60. All three were very surprised I was covering part, and tried to not let me (haha – already paid the shop! neener!) but were happy that the biggest attire cost was covered.
They are responsible for their alterations, shoes, jewelery. They’re actually sending me pictures right now of all these necklaces and coordinating what ones we’ll all wear – they’re all different chemical structures. Shoes are up to them – whatever they’ve got as long as they look nice. Makeup and hair are both up to them, but none of them would want someone else doing their makeup anyway.
Post # 11
I’m going to disagree with PPs and say that I never saw a long bridesmaids dress that I thought was beautiful that was less than $250 (Sorry I’m not trying to offend, it was just my experience). My 6 maids and I all have relatively high salaries – I covered any cost above $300. We ended up with Joanna August dresses which were $350CAD with tax. We did one big order through a store in my city and I paid for the total and then they each email money transferred me the $300. I realize this is a lot more than most people can or want to spend.
so that’s one way to communicate it with them- simply say “because I know I have expensive taste, I will only feel comfortable if you do not spend more than $125 – I will cover the remainder”.
Post # 12
Thank you to all of you for the suggestions and info about your Bridesmaid or Best Man dress decision process! The metric I keep using is myself–what is the upper limit of what I would feel comfortable paying for a dress I will likely only wear once. I was a Bridesmaid or Best Man in a friend’s wedding just 2 weeks ago, so that was a useful experience in helping to think about this problem. Glad to be able to crowd source the problem for additional insight and perspective from the Bee!
gillykat824: I was thinking of covering around $150 of cost (or more if the dress is wildly expensive). Also, the chemical structure necklaces sound like an adorable personal touch!
raspberrymojito: Good to know! I too am butting up against issues of expensive taste (both mine AND theirs!), so I hope that we can find something that makes everyone happy. Thanks for your input.
Post # 13
Mori Lee has beautiful and inexpensive Bridesmaid or Best Man dresses. The shop I work at has a large amount of bridesmaids dresses and Mori Lee is the only brand we carry that has really nice dresses under $200. Like another bee suggested most boutiques require a deposit of half (except David’s Bridal which is not my favorite). You could cover their deposits however if I accepted to be bridesmaids I would never expect the bride to pay for me. Its a privlege to be asked and if you can’t handle it financially it might be better to decline being a bridesmaids so their is no unecessary stress. That being said its very kind of you to offer to help pay. I think anywhere from $150-$200 is reasonable for a nice long bridesmaids dress, especially when you don’t have to pay the full price tag upfront.
Post # 14
Our Maid/Matron of Honor dress was $165 with a discount because it was the same boutique where I bought my dress. Ours was a long, one shouldered dress froom Bari Jay. Maid/Matron of Honor is a published model and really into fashion so our work was cut out for us. I paid for the dress though – also hair and other things just because Darling Husband and I could afford too. I agree that anything higher than $200 is a lot for a bridesmaid dress. At my boutique they required the dress paid in full before they created the order.
Post # 15
The truly correct thing would be for the bride to cover the cost of the dresses.