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Bridesmaid Dresses—we need a solution!


By “we” here, I’m talking about our country/culture, not us personally. Our solution was to have only one bridesmaid, whose dress I made.

Ms. M&P just got fitted for a bridesmaid dress which set her back $240! That’s more than my food budget for a month. This is crazy, folks, we need a solution!

If someone asked me right now if I could be in her wedding, I’d have to say “No, I can’t afford the dress. But I’ll come.” And I’d feel sad.

Unfortunately, I don’t know an answer that would work with our current ideas of picture-perfect weddings. We have certain ideas about color and texture…and I don’t know if most people would be able to accept their wedding being anything different. Even I was pretty traditional about the dress.

My SIL had her bridesmaids all buy sun-dresses from the same line in the same color. Much more practical for wearing again and less expensive, I believe.

Some other options I can think of:

  • Rainbow/flower garden theme — wear a bridesmaid dress you already have or borrow one from a friend. All the bridesmaids will look like flowers in a garden.
  • No bridesmaids.
  • Have all the brides’ female friends walk in with her wearing whatever it is that they planned to wear to the wedding.
  • Make the dresses (but this takes time, skill, and some money).

Dear readers—what do you think? Is there any way that we can get around these crazy, budget-breaking prices? Have you turned down opportunities to be in weddings because of money? How did that make you feel?

photo by brookenovak

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Pinyo @ Moolanomy January 28, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Usually when you are a bridesmaid (or a groomsmen), it’s either really good friend or family. As such, I wouldn’t missed it if I can help it. Now, your friend or family should know your financial situation fairly well and offer to offset the cost of dress/tux if warranted.

Looby January 28, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Interesting- I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing but for my friends who have been married in the UK the bride pays for the bridesmaids dresses and shoes. This poses a different problem of extra expenses for the bride. I would have some issues if someone asked me to take part in their wedding and expect me to pay hundreds of dollars for a dress that they picked for me. But as Pinyo says they should be a close friend if they have asked so maybe I would explain the situation.

Susy January 28, 2008 at 2:47 pm

I only had 3 and I went to Value City and found 3 dresses I liked and bought them for my maids. They were only $20 each. They each bought their own shoes and those were only $25.

I agree, $250 is crazy. I have been in a few weddings and had to spend $130 on each dress. I don’t think anyone would be offended if you opted out for financial reasons.

Laura January 28, 2008 at 2:55 pm

I picked the color for the bridemaids and as long as it matched the color, I didn’t care. Some found their dresses on sale. I don’t think anybody spent more than $90 on their dress and shawl.

Christine January 28, 2008 at 3:00 pm

I was at a wedding this summer where the bride’s attendants (four of them) all wore the same skirt, tops in the same colour, and flip-flops. They looked quite classy (and pretty cute, too) and I’ll bet the ensemble was super-cheap.

A good solution I think is to eschew bridal shops and places that cater to brides and bridesmaids. Instead, go to a mall or a department store and get some normal dresses that will look nice and have a high degree of wearagainability.

My Dollar Plan January 28, 2008 at 3:08 pm

It doesn’t help in the beginning, but you can donate your bridesmaid dress to Brides Against Cancer when you are done for a charitable tax deduction.

SavingDiva January 28, 2008 at 3:19 pm

UGH! Bridesmaids dresses are SO expensive! I’ve never spent over $100 on a dress…However, with my sister’s wedding, I’m sure I’m going to have to pay quite a bit for my dress. Of course, it’s a dress that you can only wear once…

Kacie January 28, 2008 at 3:31 pm

I really didn’t want to saddle my four bridesmaids with an expensive purchase–especially to have them wear a dress they didn’t like!

I took two of the gals who lived in the same town as me to the bridal shop. I had them choose the color they liked (and I also liked). We chose a maker and fabric, and each ‘maid chose a dress that looked good on her and was at a price she was OK with. Still, prices ranged from $90-$130. Yikes.

I doubt any of them would have occasion to wear the dress again, though I hope they would.

If I was handy, I’d try sewing them myself.

plonkee January 28, 2008 at 4:40 pm

I agree with Looby, in Britain it’s most common for the bride/etc to pay for the bridesmaids dresses. I can’t imagine telling someone you want them to wear a particular expensive dress and then expecting them to pay for it. It’s your wedding, your look, you pay for it.

More practically speaking, I know quite a few people that have bought bridesmaids dresses from more regular shops in the sales, and done really well out of it. Or try ebay. Or other internet sites – I really like the celebrity inspired dresses at Coco Myles, if you’ve only got a couple to dress, they aren’t too bad

Aryn January 28, 2008 at 5:03 pm

I’m going through something similar with my sister – obviously I have no choice but to shell out for her wedding. But this is the most I’ve paid for a dress other than my own wedding dress (and that wasn’t by much). My solution: avoid designer dresses. One of my friend’s found her dresses at Macy’s. Another friend had us wear black Jessica McClintock, and I was able to order it 40% off from Pearl’s Place.

PT from Prime Time Money January 28, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Girls have it bad: these dresses, the hair, shoes, showers, bachelorette parties. The list just goes on and on.

I say the bride should pay for nice dresses if she has a “vision” in mind for the wedding. Of course my wife was in everyone’s wedding before ours and so she made them all pay back for hers. So I think this is one of those neverending cycles amongst girl friends.

In a side note, I found the cheapest tux I could get for my groomsmen: only $60.

JB January 28, 2008 at 5:17 pm

I would say brides to be should give their bridemaids specifications with a reasonable color and LOTs of advance time. Then, people could find a dress on sale or something. Only pick/buy a dress that can be worn again. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but I know in the next few years I will be asked to be a bridesmaid. It would be an honor, but only if I could afford the dress! Because then there’s still all of the gift giving that weddings involve. It’s all so exorbitant.

Mrs. Nathan January 28, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Right on, Mrs. M! Bridesmaids dresses are such a silly problem, and I felt SO uncomfortable when I thought about asking my friends and family to spend a large amount of money on a dress that they didn’t even pick out themselves! Our solution was to have everyone agree generally on a color (brown, in our case) and I found a line of about 10 different spring dresses in similar colors from Ann Taylor Loft. I told the girls to pick out a dress and I told them that I would buy it for them as their bridesmaid gift. I asked them to be in the wedding so I felt it was MY job to provide for the dress – they were already making a sacrifice of travel and time for me. The dresses cost around $50-40 originally but they went on sale for about $20 by the time we went to buy them. I think everyone was quite pleased and I thought they looked great. Each girl wore a dress that suited her personality and figure-type and that made me happy. I know they’ve each worn the dresses several times afterwards too.

Mrs. Micah had a single bridesmaid (I’m totally an advocate of small bridal parties – way more manageable) and I think she made the dress herself, right? That was another smart idea.

I would encourage all brides to find a similarly creative solution – You’ll end up with happier and better-looking bridesmaids if you think about cost and allow them to wear colors/styles that are flattering!

JvW January 28, 2008 at 5:31 pm

When we got married, I took 2 of my maids with me to a dress shop and they picked out their favorite. We then ordered them online for about half the price (the website is currently escaping me). They ended up costing $75 each, which is still a lot but nowhere near as bad as $240! Yowza!

Jim January 28, 2008 at 5:35 pm

My wife had only one attendant (her sister). Sis was 18 and a senior in high school. (In other words no money.) So we bought her dress for her twice. Why twice? We bought dresses off the rack at a bridal shopp during Prom season. The first dress ($40.00) Sis wore to prom and something got spilled on it. The second replaced at $35.00, we wound up getting at an after prom clearance.

With Prom season upon us, now is the time to do this. The bridal shops will have a variety of sizes and they will be at off the rack prices.

BTW – For a while KFC catered where we live. Guess who catered our wedding? It was really classy. But we also only had 35 people at our wedding. If we went out one more ring of relatives we would have had over 100 and the next ring of relatives pushed it over 350. So we had it small and had conversations with everyone there.

Becky January 28, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Finally! Someone who sees these things the way I do! I wish brides paid for bridesmaids dresses like they do in Britain. Then maybe the brides would be more reasonable.
Paying $200 (by the time alterations are done) for a dress I’ll only wear once is SO frustrating to me. I, too, would be all for changing that tradition in the United States.
I found dresses for my bridesmaids on clearance at Fashion Bug for about $35 each. Unfortunately, none of my bridesmaids returned the favor 🙁

Catherine Lawson January 28, 2008 at 6:13 pm

I paid for the dresses for my bridesmaids and tried to choose something they could wear again. And i think if you’re asking someone to pay for their own dress, you should let them come in what they want.

Now, my ex-sister in law asked me to be a bridesmaid, but I got pregnant and would have been 8 months at the time of the wedding. She wanted to alter the dress, but it would have looked totally ridiculous – as it was a drop waist style.

So, I asked if I could just not buy a complementing maternity dress to wear – I would pay. She said no – and found someone at work who would fit into my dress!

I felt insulted. She didn’t want a bridesmaid – just a dress wearer.

Mrs. Nathan January 28, 2008 at 7:07 pm

While we’re on the subject…are tux rentals really necessary??? Most guys have a black/gray suit on hand already, which is what we did for groomsmen and I’m sure nobody realized/cared that they weren’t perfectly matching. My groom didn’t own a decent suit at the time we got married so we took this opportunity to buy him a nice one – he wore for our ceremony and afterwards he’s worn it to interviews and even to be a groomsman in Mr. and Mrs. Micah’s wedding. It was expensive at the time (something around $200 from Land’s End) but it’s been an important investment for him.

ms. m&p January 28, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Thanks for the sympathy!! Btw, that $240 doesn’t include alterations or special undergarments. I’ll probably drop another $75 on this outfit. I’m praying she’ll let me wear shoes I already have.

For my wedding, I asked the bridesmaids to wear any black dress. I figured if they wanted to buy another one for the occasion, they could, but if not, I knew they all had black dresses that would work. They looked beautiful and the pictures from the wedding are great!

I agree with you that something should be done about the costs to be a bridesmaid/maid of honor in general. When all the travel, clothes, presents, and parties are added up, it equals to a heck of a lot of money.

Just for the record, the dress I had to buy for this wedding is really beautiful–and I can wear it again. I’m hoping to wear it A LOT more than just for this wedding.

Julie January 28, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Wow… I always forget about this. I’m not really friends with anyone who is getting married soon, so luckily I won’t have to worry about it very soon. For my wedding, I would definitely set aside a budget for bridesmaids dresses – I would never have them buy their own. I’d probably still let them pick the dresses out too.

Is it a coincidence that this post is around the same time that 27 Dresses is in the theater? It’s a very cute movie!

deepali January 28, 2008 at 10:34 pm

I was a bridesmaid in a wedding where I paid $200 for the dress (with alterations). I also bought the couple a wedding gift. But I refused to buy a bridal shower present. I was actually annoyed by the whole thing, and the bride was annoyed at me for being annoyed. Eesh.

Seriously, never again.

Canadian January 29, 2008 at 9:09 am

My actual wedding dress cost around $250! (It was just a simple white dress that I had made by a seamstress.) My solution was to opt out of the whole so-called traditional wedding.

feministfinance January 29, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Oh man, bridesmaids. I don’t know anyone who enjoys being a bridesmaid in the traditional sense. The expensive, usually ugly dress you didn’t get to pick yourself, the duties you get assigned by default rather than providing the help you most want to provide, getting asked by people you don’t know that well and suspecting you were only asked so the groom could include all his brothers and still have symmetrical pictures… Not to mention the idea that the bride needs female attendants and the groom needs male ones, which leads to weird results like me standing up for my brother’s wife, who I had met literally the day before the wedding (storybook whirlwind romance) rather than for my brother, who I’ve known and loved for all my life.

My two closest friends actually thanked me when I told them we had decided not to have any attendants. I worried they’d be hurt or feel left out, but neither of them wanted the stress or the expense. They’re finding their own ways to support us, which is so great.

For people who really want attendants, I love your third suggestion. It reminds me of the pictures I have seen of the simple, lovely weddings my grandparents had. Everyone wore their best clothes, new outfit or no. That is the kind of wedding Shiner and I want to have.

KC January 29, 2008 at 8:40 pm

I am getting married at the end of this year and we decided not to have bridesmaids/groomsmen to save costs.

Stephanie January 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm

For my wedding in May, I’ve chosen to have two bridesmaids, and my partner is planning to have a best man and another bridesmaid stand up for her. I asked the bridesmaids to pick out something they liked that they’d wear again in either of our wedding colors, and our best man will wear a nice suit that he already owns. The last wedding I was a bridesmaid in was done like that, and it was beautiful. One of the nicest parts was that each attendant was able to wear a dress that looked nice on her.

dogatemyfinances February 4, 2008 at 8:38 am

Alas, there is no logic for bridezillas. And when the wedding is already 50K, they don’t want mismatched maids. Hence my $280 horrible dress.

I believe the bride should pay for them. Encourages her to think creatively or at least reasonably. I plan to pay for them at my wedding.

Kris February 4, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Oh, man. Sing it, Mrs. Micah. I’ve been to about 25 weddings in seven years, and have been a bridesmaid three times. Between the dresses, alterations, special underwear, shoes, hair, makeup, travel, showers, bachelorette parties, and wedding gifts, the cost … I don’t even really want to think about it. It would actually kill me.

I might offer this advice, though, from a bridesmaid’s point of view:

A) Avoid buying gowns from bridal salons. Any industry-related specialty store will charge through the nose.

B) Give your bridesmaids a color scheme, but let them pick their own dresses. Because no matter how many times a bride says, “You can totally wear this over and over again,” it is never, EVER true.

C) If you’re going with long gowns, let the bridesmaids choose the shoes. They know what they’re comfortable walking in, and nobody sees them anyway.

D) Don’t, at any point from the day you become engaged to the day you say “I do,” refer to your wedding as “my special day.” (Emphasis on “my.”) Yes, it is special, and yes, there are 400 people coming to see you get married. But it’s NOT all about you. There’s a husband there too, you know? This phrase makes bridesmaids homicidal.

That’s all I can think of for now, but I would LOVE to see a more extensive post on this if you ever have the time, MM. There’s a lot to be said here.

Lori E. February 5, 2008 at 5:18 pm

I don’t understand why people still do the tuxedo/hideous dress wedding. Am I the only one who’s seen “What Not to Wear?” Tuxedos are for waiters, and matching bridesmaid dresses went out of vogue in the 80’s. I have never seen a “bridesmaid” dress that was not ugly. I only had one attendant in my wedding and I told her the wedding colors and she picked her own in a price range she was comfortable with. My own dress was a white dress off the rack from Macy’s for $80. We invested in a nice gray suit for my husband that he can wear for a long time. I wasn’t letting him wear a cheap tacky rental tux. His best man wore a suit he already had. People make this way harder and more expensive than it needs to be, and the results are not as attractive as they think they are.

mrsmicah February 5, 2008 at 5:49 pm

My husband and his brother wore suits as well. He’s just not the type for a tux, it looks funny with his hair. I’ve seen a few guys who can pull it off. The key is to be the sort of guy who can pull off the 1940s-1950s tux/suit look. Even some of those were hideous, but I’ve seen some pics and movies that look good.

Of course, Marlene Deitrich could pull off a tux!

Joanne February 5, 2008 at 6:04 pm

I think it’s horrible to say “Hi, I love you and I would be honored if you would be my bridesmaid… by the way, it will cost you $200.” Or even $50. That just doesn’t make sense to me, though I know it’s become “tradition.” I paid for my bridesmaids’ dresses… heh which gave me extra incentive to keep the costs down (my mom and her best friend made them).

H Lee D February 7, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Weddings in general are a huge waste of money. We didn’t do all the traditional things, though we still did some and still spent a decent chunk of money. Why do so many people (women?) spend so much money making their wedding exactly like everyone else’s????

mrsmicah February 7, 2008 at 9:24 pm

H Lee D, you ask an excellent question. I think some of it is the idea that everyone woman deserves to be a princess for a day. And we’ve created an image of how the whole bride-princess thing should go—attendants, etc.

I don’t think it used to be bride-princess, but it’s morphed into that.

freecia February 14, 2008 at 10:18 pm

I know this is against all frugality, but my close friendships are worth much more than $300. Or even $3000. Non-close friends? Probably wouldn’t be asked to be a bridesmaid or can gently point to someone else closer to the bride.

I’m not saying that it it wouldn’t be great if the bride/groom helped pay for the dress or if they were more reasonably price/able to use again. Just that relationships take work and being there for your friend in that lineup, if asked, is probably fairly important to maintaining a friendship. Being friends, they would probably be upset if they were making you eat mac and cheese to pay for a dress.

This is an expense I budget for. People usually ask you to be a bridesmaid at least a few months in advance (my best friend had me booked since high school, way before she had a groom).

Pam March 20, 2008 at 11:15 am

I had 3 bridesmaids, and all I requested of them was that they each wear a black dress and black shoes. My engagement ring contains a tanzanite as the center stone, so I got them each a pair of tanzanite earrings to wear. The flowers were red roses tied together with a ribbon. I will admit that I was worried about how the pictures would look without complete uniformity, but it was actually beautiful. You didn’t notice the dresses weren’t the same, and the red roses stood out very well. This probably works best with black, as there are fewer variations in black than other colors.

Fabulously Broke April 5, 2008 at 10:57 am

I would say no to being a bridesmaid.. only because I’d say: Look I don’t have time. I travel all the time I’m way too busy but I’ll show up.

I’m saying that because it’s true, it’s a valid excuse but also because it’s more polite than saying money is an issue since I do earn a LOT so they can’t believe I can’t spend $300 on a dress I’ll wear once (I don’t even do that in real life!) But if they keep pushing me, I’ll also add in that I can’t afford it because of debt, and that’s when the conversation will end.

elisabeth April 28, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Brides should pay for the bridesmaid dresses. I have been a bridesmaid twice and, in one wedding, not only had to fly across country for the affair at my own expense, but had to shell out $150 for a terrible dress I wouldn’t have been caught dead in again. Another time, a friend called and announced her intention to get married within a month and then wanted to know when we could go shopping for my dress. I was completely broke at the time, but she seemed to consider the honor of being in her second wedding adequate reason for me to go into debt.

Yes, brides should consider the financial situations of their attendants, but they don’t always. Declining the offer to be in a wedding based on finances is hurtful for the bride. It would be much easier if the bride would figure the cost of the dresses into her budget. I know I will when I get married!

April May 28, 2008 at 11:13 am

I have only been a bridesmaid once and it was an awful dress. But I sold it on eBay for a bit of money back.

My sisters were my attendants. They wore white linen sundresses and I bought this lovely hot pink beaded fringe at Walmart and sewed it to the bottom. It was easy and they looked beautiful. I’m not sure they wore their dresses again, but they sure could have!

And — mom and dad paid for them! 🙂

The AntiChick May 28, 2008 at 11:41 am

When I got married, we had a very eclectic wedding, and my dress was very renaissance-y. My close friends & I do renaissance festivals, and do a lot of costuming. (My husband actually made my dress.) Most of my attendants already had gorgeous leather bodices from the same artisan, I purchased one for my matron of honor who couldn’t afford it, and we all together made skirts in jewel tones (they picked and bought the material) and I made matching blouses (found a huge roll of pretty fabric on closeout at a bulk fabric store we frequent).

Probably not an option for everyone, but an example of looking at what we had to work with and thinking outside the box.

Brittney May 28, 2008 at 11:43 am

Hi! I ended up with 4 bridesmaids and then 5 sisters-in-law that needed dresses. We got them from Chadwicks, and with one of their “Buy one-get one (whatever)” sales, I paid less than $200 for all of them. My wedding was not super formal, so I was okay with simple linen dresses. The girls all looked great and I didn’t spend TOO much 🙂

Awesome Mom May 28, 2008 at 12:20 pm

I had my sisters wear old prom/formal dresses that they already owned. It was pretty simple and they all looked good together. Even the photographer was amazed that everyone in the pictures looked good together and he did not have to rearrange people so that they did not clash.

Isis Uptown May 28, 2008 at 12:35 pm

For my first wedding, my dress and the two bridesmaid dresses were actually just dresses (mine white, theirs pink) from the same line that were on a rack at a local department store.

For my second, recent, wedding, my dress was a top and skirt from SteinMart – the top of which I have since worn, with slacks, to a party. My son was my man of honor, so he just wore a nice red shirt and looked quite handsome.

foreigner May 28, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Amongst all my friends and family, if the wedding couple wants matched dresses/shoes/suits/etc for their attendants, they are responsible for the cost of providing them. If it isn’t that important to them, they just give parameters to those standing up with them as to what is “appropriate to wear” and that’s it.

If you want a matching wedding party in gorgeous clothes/shoes they’ll never wear again, you pay the bill. Seems reasonable to me. Mostly because I’d hate to think anyone I wanted to have stand up for me would have to say “no” due to cost. It’s enough that they do the time/travel/energy to be a part of my special day!

Gladys May 28, 2008 at 3:52 pm

I took my bridesmaids shopping in the week after January 1. We found gorgeous cocktail dresses on sale in a wide range of sizes (they went from size 0 to 16), and they even matched! The best part was that everyone got to wear the dresses to their own Christmas and office parties for a couple of years so the dresses saw a lot of use.

Bettsi May 28, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Wonderful post! Mrs. Micah, this a great topic to put out in the open! I really love what feministfinance said about wearing your “best” clothes for the occasion. It’s not a movie or a stage play that should have costumes- it’s a day of celebration in which we honor the ceremony by looking our best.

Sheryl May 29, 2008 at 11:56 am

Ebay!!! My sister went to a national chain, picked out the color she wanted us to have for our dresses. I tried on dresses in store to find my size, then we scoured ebay for a few months, and the dress I needed (in the correct color and size) eventually popped up for auction. I spent $35 total for the dress (with shipping) and it still had it’s brand new $165 price tag on it, never worn. All of the bridesmaids dresses for my sister’s wedding came from ebay, what a steal!

Michelle May 29, 2008 at 12:25 pm

What I plan on doing is emailing my friends with a color range and a few example dresses. After that, they’re on their own. My athletic, muscular sister doesn’t have the same body type as my sinewy bff. And besides, if they can pick up a great $30 dress that looks perfect, great for them!!

Kathy May 29, 2008 at 1:13 pm

I remarried at 49 YO with a big wedding – it was also a going away party since I was moving out of state. My husband & I have 6 children between us – 4 girls, 2 boys. I wasn’t “married” to any color for group – I found dresses on the sale rack at a bridal shop for $17.50 (SEVENTEEN fifty!!). Could not have bought the fabric for that price! Since the tops revealed more than any of them wanted, I found a dress pattern with a top that would work. $50 later, I’ve got 4 dresses with new tops. It’s just ONE day that starts the rest of your life – you don’t have to break the bank to celebrate it!

Elaine May 29, 2008 at 5:09 pm

I’m having one bridesmaid, and she can wear whatever she wants. The whole special-dress-just-for-weddings is quite a recent phenomenon, and it can suck a big one for all I care.

tightwadfan May 30, 2008 at 7:21 am

looby and plonkee – yes, in America it’s custom for bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses. We should switch to the British way. Being a bridesmaid here is more of a burden than an honor.

I was a bridesmaid twice and the brides tried to keep costs down by finding inexpensive fabric and having the dresses sewn. It was a nice gesture but going for fittings etc was kind of a hassle since I lived out of town and the dresses still cost over $100 and even though they weren’t hideous, I still never wore them again.

For my wedding, I told my bridesmaids my colors and asked them to look for a dress they could wear again in those colors or if they already had a dress that would be suitable for a wedding they could wear that, even if it wasn’t in my wedding colors.

Either pay for your bridesmaid’s dresses, or let them wear what they want. Weddings today are out of control.

Ashley June 3, 2008 at 11:12 am

I totally agree that weddings are out of control. I wanted to elope but was out voted by my family, and at age 19/20 didn’t see anything else I could do but the big wedding. Even doing the cheapest versions of the big fat wedding, my family, attendants and I spend nearly $10,000. I went with the cheapest version of the bridesmaid dress I could find ($110!). By the time you entertain nearly 300 people…

I tried to politely turn down being a bridesmaid for a wedding this summer, I wanted to leave open the option for becoming pregnant. I was told that she would be extremely hurt and offended if I turned her down. So now I am a bridesmaid with all of the cost that comes with it. And have a dress that will cost near $200 with alterations, $8 shoes, hair (yes at the beauty college but still), presents, helping the matron of honor with the bachelorette, etc. And my 5 y/o is the miniture bride ($60 dress, hair, shoes) and my hubby is a groomsman (the best man is a flake, so the entire cost for the bachelor, tux, haircut).

In the last 4 years, I have been in 5 weddings. I am so sick of our consumerist society.

Living Off Dividends & Passive Income June 15, 2008 at 4:42 pm

In india, everyone dresses well and get expensive clothing, but there’s no compulsion on color scheme – you just wear whatever you like and the emphasis is to buy as much as you can afford.

of course, you can reuse the clothing/jewellery so its not like a total waste.

btw, I just saw chick-flick 27 dresses last night!

Bridgette August 7, 2008 at 4:20 pm

When I got married I had someone make my bridesmaid’s dresses. It cost around $25 to make each of the girls dresses. I bought their material since it was cheaper and they paid me back. I gave each girl a copy of their receipt showing the cost of the material and the labor involved. The total for everything came to a little under $55.

I know of one bride who got her cousin to make the bridesmaid’s dresses. She gave the dress to them as a gift.

I had a friend who had a rainbow wedding. Each bridesmaid got to wear their own dress that they had from a pervious wedding. It was beautiful.

ellie October 5, 2008 at 1:31 pm

i made my bridesmaids dresses with my grandma’s help. i ended up not giving gifts to them because that was my gift.

i’m sure none of them ever wore the dress again, but it did not set them back a penny.

and, they chose to go barefoot, so no shoe costs either.


potogurl October 13, 2008 at 2:57 am

None of you are the slightest bit sentimental about weddings. It makes me very sad. I’m getting married soon and I made my bridesmaids pay for their matching dresses that I chose for them. I bought them their shoes and earrings to wear. The dresses cost $220 which they were happy to pay. I told them that they were going to cost $265 including alterations. Now 2 out of my 3 bridesmaids are refusing to pay for the $45 alterations. So the only thing I could do was pick those 2 up today from the dress shop and leave them as they are for them to come and get and deal with them. I am very angry about this. Especially when they’d already been warned of the expense and I had helped them out by buying the shoes etc which I didn’t have to do. Now hopefully they won’t burn their dresses trying to iron them or stuff up the stitching but I’m too angry to care.

wedorama October 13, 2008 at 10:43 am

it doesn’t sound like your bridesmaids were happy to pay.

are you sure you are not mistaking sentimental value with materialism? i think it sounds like a lot of the previous posters put a lot more thought into their wedding by working to find dresses that fit the theme and did not break their bridesmaids’ banks.

mrsmicah October 13, 2008 at 1:00 pm

@wedorama, I think you’re entirely correct. I have never had a friend tell me a bridesmaid dress price (over $125 anyway) happily. Normally it’s in a resigned “but I love the bride” fashion.

I think there’s also more sentiment in making your bridesmaid’s dress (as I did) and other wedding elements than in buying them. Plus, keeping costs down leads to greater harmony in the wedding party and helps avoid situations like potogurl’s. Tension and fights aren’t very conducive to wedding sentiment.

mrsmicah October 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm

@potogurl, read the comment directly above yours. If that isn’t a beautiful sentiment, I don’t know what is. 🙂

potogurl October 13, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Well it’s not like I’ve ever done this before. I expected them to be honest with me from the beginning. I am hurt by it. I would have happily done what all of you are saying.

potogurl October 13, 2008 at 6:06 pm

What do you think I should do now? It’s too late they’ve already happily paid for them and they are upset that they do not fit properly because they won’t pay for the alterations. I don’t want their slow reactions to ruin our wedding day.

Jessica November 2, 2008 at 11:05 pm

Your wedding day won’t be ruined. The Wedding Industrial Complex wants you to think that so you would buy those 265 dollar dresses. If your wedding truly is the best day of your life as a couple, you should get a divorce in my opinion. The happiest day of a couples life does not involve standing around in a heavy dress, then buying everyone an expensive dinner and cake, just so they have witnesses to their special vows. The most important day of your lifeas a couple will involve kids, houses, movies, friends who buy their own dinner, and being together.

Taryn December 6, 2008 at 8:27 pm

i have just recently been asked to be a bridesmaid in my best friends wedding which will be next september and i am just now realizing how much its going to cost ME! i am like freaking out now because i dont make that much money to begin with and i started checking out how much the avergae bridesmaid dress cost and for a lower priced bridesmaid dress it can be from 110-300 dollars and that right there is more than i can affored! then theres shoes, a shower gift, weddding gift, and i dont even wanna know what else there is…ive never been a part in an actual wedding b4 so this is all sooo crazy to me! and i feel like i cant go and tell her i cant be a bridesmaid now because she is my best friend and i dont think she has anyone to replace me for a bridesmaid because shes very particular about having only close friends be a part of it and everyone else she thinks is close enough to be one is a bridesmaid already too and i have no idea what to do….this is so much stress on me and my financial situation and im not even the one getting married…i understand that the brides are on a budget too but its THEIR wedding…i think its kind of wrong to have the bridesmaids pay for the dresses theyll never wear again and everything else…i mean theyre not the ones getting married..if they want to have a fancy wedding with a bunch of bridesmaids and all of that then they should pay…i mean the point of being married is that u are in love with your partner and want to spend the rest of your life with them…a fancy wedding is a thing you choose to have, you dont need a fancy thing, you could get married without all of that…you chose a fancy thing…its kind of your responsibility for allt he costs. i would never make my friends pay for all these things, it seems way cruel. im starting to feel very bitter about weddings. not marriage but weddings. how ridiculous! 🙁

FruGal February 11, 2009 at 8:49 am

Wow, sounds like the wedding culture in the US is very different to here in the UK. I’m getting married next week and am having my two sisters as bridesmaids. I have paid for their dresses, shoes, hair and make-up, hair accessories… the works. I would never expect them to be out of pocket for my day. Brides that make their bridesmaids pay for everything themselves sound quite selfish. I don’t know how I would feel being asked to be a bridesmaid, then having to fork out money to look the way the bride wants me to look. Seems to me that if the bride wants to you look a certain way she should pay for it herself.

Slinky February 11, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Ugh…I was just in a wedding that cost me a fortune. Boring, statue of liberty green dress, silver shoes, hosted the bachelorette party, wedding shower, wedding gift, etc.

For myself, my maid of honor is under strict instructions to smack me if I start to sound like a bridezilla. I’m paying for my girls’ hair/makeup and required accessory. If I can swing it, I want to buy their dresses, but I won’t worry too much since I’ve bought dresses for theirs! They can pick whatever they want from wherever they want as long as it’s long black and formal. Other than that I’ll have them each pick their own color and everything else (including bouquets) should stick to that color, black or silver. I want everyone to look like themselves and be comfortable and wear things they like, with just a touch of group cohesiveness.

Rebecca September 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm

“Don’t, at any point from the day you become engaged to the day you say “I do,” refer to your wedding as “my special day.” (Emphasis on “my.”) Yes, it is special, and yes, there are 400 people coming to see you get married. But it’s NOT all about you. There’s a husband there too, you know? This phrase makes bridesmaids homicidal.”

Very late agreement a hundred times over! I don’t like that phrase one bit, and never used it when I was getting married. However, everyone else did and it drove me nuts! That and all the people who would advise my hubby to just “do whatever I say, because it is my day”. GAH! Our wedding was about the BOTH of us and celebrating/sharing with our friends/family! Letting me run right over my husband’s wants would not have been a very good start to a marriage.

Secondly, I paid for my bridesmaids’ matching dresses. The bridesmaids and myself shopped together to find something we were all happy with. I’ve seen them wear their dresses again at church and other events since then. They were fairly cheap, but I’ve grown up with the impression that the bride should always pay for the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Could this thing with bridesmaids paying for their own dresses in the USA be a more recent/generation thing or maybe a regional thing? Almost every bride I know paid for the BMs’ dresses. We also paid for tux rentals for the men, and that was easy with a few awesome 2 for 1 coupons! Did not pay for bridesmaids’ hair/makeup/shoes, but I didn’t care if they differed in those.

A lot of people seem to view weddings incorrectly, especially brides. The wedding isn’t a big party for you and all your fantasies. It can fulfill them, but that isn’t the point, and I believe that belief is why normally rational people can turn into bridezillas. No event is going to go exactly perfect, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just relax and celebrate the beginning of a life together. The marriage is the important thing, the wedding is just gravy. 🙂

And a little giggle here, the biggest thing that went wrong on my wedding day? I had trouble sleeping the night before, so I yawned through the entire ceremony. One of my bridesmaids said I looked like I was crying because I kept covering up the yawning with my bouquet. Guess it is better than looking like I was bored!

Heather May 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I’m in a wedding this Saturday and I think the bride had an excellent solution. Her bridesmaids run the gamut in body shape and size, (I’m 5’11” and another is about 4’9″, with two in between). She asked us all to find white cotton dresses that flattered us, and then dyed them all to match. Some of the thread was polyester and didn’t dye with the dresses, but it made a nice little accent for her largely informal wedding. You can find white cotton dresses with cotton thread if you’re careful about it, too. We are also chipping in in other ways, such as cooking for the pot luck dinner, but my dress itself only cost $12.99 and looks great!

Bridgette May 21, 2010 at 10:43 am

I’ve decided that I’ll think twice before buying another bridesmaids dress. Over the years I’ve been in several weddings. Looking back I think of all the money I could have save, two hundred here and two hundred there, adds up quickly.

Sidney August 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I paid about $250 for my wedding dress. It was designed by Vera Wang to be a bridesmaid’s dress and was very stylish and a lovely off white color. My mother-in-law made my veil. My cousin was gracious enough to be my maid of honor, so I was happy for her to wear a nice dress that she already owned. And no, my husband didn’t rent a tux, but bought a three piece suit that he has worn to other wedding parties over the last 12 years. I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking any of my friends to spend money on dresses that they would only wear once.

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