Who Pays For The Bridal Party's Attire?

Lifestyle

Who Pays For The Bridal Party's Attire?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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You've asked and we've answered! Welcome to your weekly column 'Planning Your Happily Ever After' with wedding consultant Shikima Hinds, who will each week spotlight all the questions you've been asking.

Dear Shikima:

My wife and I are in our friends' bridal party. She's a bridesmaid and I am a groomsman; this is both our first time in this role. Apparently, the couple expects us to pay for our own attire. The groomsmen are renting suits, so that's not so bad but my wife has to buy a very expensive dress. I don't think she should have to spend so much money on a dress she doesn't even like. She says she has to. Why? Is this normal?

A concerned husband and groomsman

Dear groomsman-to-be :

Being a bridesmaid or groomsman can be a fun and exciting experience, but it can also be an expensive one. When you agree to be in someone's wedding bridal party, the costs can add up quickly.

If you tried to Google “Who pays for bridesmaid dresses?” hoping to get a definitive answer, you're sure to be disappointed. Since every wedding is different, there's no hard and fast rule or “right” way to handle bridal party costs.

Many people believe that being asked to take part in a bridal party is an honour, but don't believe that they should be expected to foot the bill. The subject of the bridal party's attire is quite often the cause of much confusion. If you're not certain what you're expected to spend or purchase, you might consider having an open discussion with the couple getting married.

According to traditional etiquette, the bridal party is expected to cover the cost of their wedding ensemble, which includes everything from the attire to accessories. That goes even though the bride and groom traditionally pick the look of the attire and styling of the bridal party.

Most of the traditional rules remain and some couples have made their own personal changes to the rules.

If the couple can afford to, they can offer to pay for the attire or a portion of the cost for each bridal party member. According to The Knot's study, about 10% of brides paid for their bridal party's dresses in 2019. Offering to pay a portion of the cost of the attire is a nice gesture from the couple, especially if they have expensive attire in mind, or know that one or more of her bridesmaids or groomsmen is strapped for cash.

A wedding trend on the rise is for bridesmaids to have the option to choose their own dress based on a specified colour scheme. This allows the bridesmaids to choose just how much they want to spend on a dress. Keep in mind that the more variables you add to the mix, the higher the chance of something going wrong; for example, someone ordering either the wrong colour or fabric. My advice would be to keep on track with what everyone is doing to ensure they coordinate.

Pretty much, anyone who's generous enough can offer to pay for the bridesmaids' dresses or attire for the groomsmen. It may even be the mother-of-the-bride/groom, if she so wishes!

As with bridesmaids, the rule for the groomsmen's attire is the same — you pick the look, and they pay for it (unless someone else wishes to do so). Truth be told, the groomsmen's costs are less and the process is a lot simpler than bridesmaids' attire, as they often rent or can wear a suit they already have if it complements the wedding styling.

Before the pandemic, the average cost of a bridesmaid dress was roughly US$130 and has remained that average for almost a decade. After the attire, there are still other expenses to be considered, from jewellery to shoes.

Tips for the wedding couple

• The bride should try to be flexible about the kind of dresses she chooses for her girls. She should avoid being too extravagant, and take their opinions into account.

• Be reasonable enough to ensure that they like what you've chosen, feel good in it, and expect to wear it again. This is always something to bear in mind, but even more so when they are paying for their own outfits.

• It's up to you whether you want to shoulder that cost and give them as gifts.

• If you are requesting that the bridesmaids wear dresses that are considered expensive or over the average cost of typical bridal party attire, you should offer to cover or help with the cost.

• Make your wedding party aware of your expectations as soon as possible. This will give them time to plan their budget accordingly and highlight any issues well in advance.

Tips for the bridal party

• Be prepared to cover these expenses if you accept the offer to be in the wedding party.

• Be honest with the bride or groom upfront if you think it will be a financial strain.

• Give your honest opinion about the attire; after all, you are the one wearing it.

There isn't a one-line answer to the question about whose responsibility it is to foot the bridal party's bill. Discuss expectations; your friendship will thank you for it!


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