Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Paying for the bridesmaid dress while in school?

I have 4 bridesmaids in my wedding, and I'm not sure if 3 of them know whether they are supposed to pay for their own dress since I don't believe everyone knows that tradition and they have not been in many weddings.  The other problem is all three are in school and don't have a lot of money.  I'm just worried it'll be all weird when we get up to the cash register. I don't want my special day of getting that wedding dress being all weird.

My sister tells me I shouldn't have to ask them whether they need help paying becaue it would be tacky and they agreed to stand up for me.  At the same time, I'm in school too so it's only my soon to be husband supporting us and i work a very part time job, so it's not like we have a lot of money either to pay for every bridesmaid dress.  They also are in their late 20s getting their masters and PhD so it's not like I'm asking them when they're only 19 or anything.   Maybe we could help alleviate the costs...  I just feel bad and I'm not sure what to say or do.

I don't expect them to get expensive dresses, nothing above $200 and preferably lower if they can find a decent dress.  I obviously want some input in the bridesmaid dresses but I'd like them to pick something they like too and can maybe even wear again so they have more imput than me. I don't expect them to pay for much else other than any tailoring that needs to be done and to buyt their own shoes.  No bachelorette or shower and I might pay for all their hair to be done.

Any advice on whether I should say or do anything?

Re: Paying for the bridesmaid dress while in school?

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    Before you even start looking at dresses, you need to ask each of them, "Hey, how much would you be comfortable spending on a bridesmaid dress?"  Then it's your responsibility to either keep the dress under the lowest number you're given, or cover the difference.  The budget conversation should ABSOLUTELY NOT wait until it's time to pay.

    Or, if you're not comfortable discussing money at all, you can give them some very basic guidelines like length and color and let them choose the dress (and the cost) on their own.  Since most of my girls were on very tight budgets, I just told them to wear something black, and it worked out beautifully.
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    edited November 2010
    Ditto aerin. You need to ask them their budget and choose dresses from there or you could always let them choose their own style of black dress with a colored sash or something.

    Ususually when you agree to be in a wedding, you pay for your own attire. If there is a lot of time before your wedding, maybe they could save up for it? Or if they cannot afford even the cheapest dress and you still want them to be in the wedding, then you need to pick up the tab.
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    What are your colors, if you post them, maybe we can give suggestions. Otherwise, I say go to a non-bridal store at the mall, its much more likely to be more versatile. But I gotta say, I'm a grad student and $200 before alterations is more than I would be comfortable spending. Oh, and just to make sure, if you require hair to be done, you have to pay for it.

    Will they have to fly in/book hotels? because you really should consider this if your dress is on the pricier side.
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    I totally agree with other people about going to your ladies and how much are they willing/able to spend on their dresses. If the amount they respond with seems too little for the dress you have in mind, then perhaps you could be open to the idea of specifying a certain dress length, color, ect, but they pick the dress themselves. I gave my ladies the option of selecting their own dress, my only criteria was that they were black and knee length. It worked out perfectly for everyone.

    Yes, keep alterations in mind since most people usually require getting something done and they can get pricey.
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    When I was a bridesmaid, the bride just e-mailed us a link from David's Bridal of the dress she wanted ($135) and asked what we thought. It wasn't awkward because it didn't happen at the store checkout . . . the bridesmaids lived around the country so she got it from a big chain so we could all find the same dress. 
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    5 of my BMs are in school.  I chose a dress that costs $40 at Target.  MOH (the only non-student) found it.  Buying a dress off the rack also means that alterations may not be necessary.
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