Ask a Planner ~ The Wedding Party: To Pay or Not to Pay?

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Hiya DreamGroup! 

You guys are awesome for doing this! It’s so nice to have a place to ask my question!  We are debating whether or not to pay for my bridesmaid’s dresses and the guy’s suit rentals.  Is it totally taboo to ask the wedding party to pay for these themselves?  I’ve heard a lot of different opinions from the peanut gallery but figured you’d know better than anyone!  Thanks!

Jenn B.

Hi Jenn,

This is a great question and a commonly debated one at that!  My personal opinion is that being in a wedding party (especially as a bridesmaid) can be very expensive once you add up all the money that your loyal girlfriends will need to spend over the duration of your “year in the sun” – there’s engagement party gifts, bridal shower gifts (and in some cases the expense of hosting the shower itself), stagette costs, wedding day hair and make-up fees, the dress of course, and then there’s the wedding present.  I have a good friend who has been a bridesmaid about 8 times and figures she has spent over ten thousand dollars being a dutiful “lady in waiting”.  That’s a lot of money!  My thoughts are that if you are financially able to pay for the dresses and tuxedos please do so.  It’s the polite thoughtful way to go.

Ask a Planner ~ The Wedding Party: To Pay or Not to Pay?

In the event that you simply cannot afford to cover this cost than do the next best thing and keep the cost of the dress to under $200.00 all in with alterations (or offer to pay a portion thereof to keep the price near that amount) or better yet allow your bridesmaids to choose their own off the rack dress providing some specific colour and/or style parameters which will keep the look unified and complimentary.  You might even plan a shopping day with each of your bridesmaids separately which can be fun not to mention a savvy damage control plan of action (as not everyone’s version of medium pink or soft green is the same).  Black cocktail dresses are a fabulous alternative if appropriate with your colour theme and ceremony environment.  And who doesn’t need an excuse to go out and buy a fabulous new black cocktail dress?! Apart from the dress, the same rule applies to hair and make-up, any jewellery or shoes you specifically ask your bridesmaids to purchase, etc.  Just be considerate and either cover the cost or keep costs and requested wedding party purchases to a minimum.

The Wedding Party: To Pay or Not to Pay?

As you have likely noticed I did not talk much about the groomsmen, but the same rule applies… if you can afford it, cover it, if not, than keep costs as reasonable as possible without resorting to the $99 hot & stiff polyester “may burst into flames any second” suit/tuxedo.  AND… whatever you do don’t allow the groomsmen to rent their own suits/tuxedos or wear one out of their closet as this is a sure way to create a disheveled looking wedding party! Navy for example comes in many different shades and suits/tuxedos come in many different styles.  If one groomsman has a 2-button navy suit with a thinner lapel, the other a 3-button lighter Navy suit with a bit of a sheen to it, and the third a more modern body hugging almost black navy suit, you will have one messy looking line up.  A sure way to ruin your wedding photos!  Renting (regardless of who is paying) is often the most sensible way to go in order to guarantee a unified and elegant overall look.

Best of luck with your wedding Jenn! 

Wedding Planner signing off!  Until next time… keep those questions coming in!  Submit your questions by emailing us at [email protected]

Genève ~ “aka Two Cents McNally”

Geneve McNally ~ owner, principal planner

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