Who Pays for Bridesmaid Dresses?

September 15, 2023

Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a dream for many; your best friend or family member is getting married, and they’ve asked you to be part of it…what an incredible honor. It’s a time filled with love and celebrations, likely starting with the very moment you’re asked to be a bridesmaid. 

But after the excitement wears off, you’ll realize this role comes with financial obligations; from the bridal shower to the bridesmaid dress, expenses can add up quickly. And there has long been a debate about who pays for bridesmaid dresses, so today we answer the question: Who pays for bridesmaid dresses?

Who Pays For Bridesmaid Dresses?

Being a bridesmaid isn't just all fun and games; there are many responsibilities, some of which have financial impacts. From bridal shows to bachelorette parties and, of course, the bridesmaid dresses, these can undoubtedly add up.

Ah, the beautiful bridesmaid dress - a symbol of unity and elegance designed to complement the overall aesthetic of the wedding. As wedding planners in Italy, we often get this question: who pays for the bridesmaid's dresses? Does proper etiquette dictate that each bridesmaid pays for her own? Or is it traditionally the bride's duty to bear this cost as a token of appreciation for their presence on her big day?

Who "Traditionally" Pays For The Bridesmaid Dresses?

Traditionally, bridesmaids covered the cost of their own dresses. It is an age-old practice where each bridesmaid purchases her dress as a gesture of support and honor to the bride. 

However, many modern wedding customs have evolved, so we're seeing couples offering to pay for part or all of the bridesmaids' dresses to express appreciation for their involvement in the wedding. This is especially true if the bride chooses a specific dress style or a high-priced gown that will never be worn again. 

So, when we answer the age-old question of “Who pays for bridesmaid dresses,” we have to say there is no black-and-white, set-in-stone answer. Each love story and wedding is unique, and how you handle the payments for bridesmaid dresses should also be. 

bridesmaid shows their dresses

Cultural Differences For Who Pays For Bridesmaid Dresses

Who Pays For The Bridesmaid Dresses in the US?

In the US, it is customary for each bridesmaid to purchase her own dress and cover any associated costs, such as alterations and accessories. The idea behind this tradition is that by investing in their attire, the bridesmaids demonstrate their support and commitment to the bride on her big day.

However, as mentioned above, traditions have evolved as weddings have become more diverse and individualized. Couples are mixing things up and ignoring some age-old wedding traditions, including who's responsible for paying for the bridal party dresses.  Some couples may gift or partially subsidize the bridesmaid dresses as a token of gratitude for their participation in the wedding.

Additionally, brides may consider selecting more budget-friendly dresses or allowing the bridesmaids to choose their dresses within specific guidelines. This approach considers the bridesmaids' financial situations while maintaining a cohesive and harmonious wedding party look. 

Brides over the years have realized that most bridesmaid dresses won’t be worn again, and thus it’s an expense a bridesmaid would not incur if they were not in the bridal party. So, they offer to cover the cost of the dress. 

Related: 23 Trending Wedding Hairstyles for the Modern Bride

Who Pays For The Dresses For Bridesmaids In Italy?

In Italy, it is similar to the US tradition, where the bridesmaids pay for their own gowns. In Italian weddings, the bridesmaids, known as "damigelle" or "teste," are typically close friends or family members who play a significant role in supporting the bride during the wedding preparations and ceremony.

As a gesture of love and friendship, the bridesmaids traditionally purchase their dresses and accessories to complement the bride's overall wedding theme and style. While there might be some variations depending on individual preferences or regional customs, the general practice remains that the bridesmaids bear the expenses for their attire.

bridesmaids with bride

Who Pays For The Bridesmaid Dresses in the UK?

In the UK, you'll find most expenses for bridesmaid dresses will be covered by the bride or couple. While this is a lovely gesture, it may not always be the norm in modern times. As with many other wedding traditions, couples are infusing their wedding with their own unique spin, so it’s perfectly acceptable that you ask bridesmaids to pay for their own dress in the UK.  

But, whatever route is taken it’s important that the bride let her best gals know the financial responsibilities of being a bridesmaid upfront so they can make the best decision if they accept the role. 

Who Pays For The Bridesmaid Dresses for a Destination Wedding?

In the case of a destination wedding, there are additional financial responsibilities for both the bridal party and the couple getting married. Things like airfare, accommodations, meals etc., can be quite a considerable expense; luckily, it will be like a vacation, too, worth every dime, right? 

There is no definitive answer to who pays for the bridesmaid dresses at a destination wedding. However, in our experience, it is common for the couple to cover some of the expenses for the bridal party. Whether that is the accommodations, airfare, or the bridesmaid dresses is up to each couple. As always, it’s important to communicate openly about all expenses that will fall on the bridesmaids. 

The question of who pays for bridesmaid dresses transcends borders, reflecting the diverse tapestry of wedding traditions around the world. While the tradition in the USA and Italy has long placed the financial responsibility on the bridesmaids themselves, contemporary customs have shifted towards more flexible approaches. 

As weddings become more personalized and inclusive, couples are exploring ways to show gratitude and consideration for their bridesmaids' contributions. So, if you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid, speak to the couple to make sure you understand the financial responsibilities. 

Dreaming of a fairytale wedding in Italy? Entrust your special day to VB-Events, Italy's top wedding planners with over 15 years of experience. Book a free consultation now and let us guide you to the luxury wedding of your dreams.

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