Don't know which costs are yours to cover? Read our answers to your top financial etiquette questions.
Q. Do bridesmaids have to pay for their own dresses?
A. Bridesmaids are generally expected to pay for their own wedding-day ensemble (shoes and jewelry included). If you think the cost is going to be an issue, voice your concerns to the bride. Hopefully she'll choose a dress that's reasonably priced, or consider letting you choose your own. She may give you some color/style requirements (i.e., black and ankle length), and then each of you would choose something that suits your standards. That way, you decide how much to spend.
Q. Who pays for the bridal shower? Just the maid of honor? Can we ask for contributions?
Unlike the shower, it's completely cool to ask guests to chip in for the bachelorette bash. Just make it clear ahead of time.
A. Whomever is hosting the shower (it's usually the maid of honor with help from the bridesmaids) should handle footing the bill. So no, you shouldn't ask for contributions from guests, even if the soiree is at a restaurant. That said, there are many budget-friendly ways to plan, and maybe the bride's Mom or Grandma will slip you some dough.
Q. Is it okay to charge per head at a bachelorette party, or do the maid of honor and bridesmaids foot the bill for all?
A. Unlike the shower, at which the hostess(es) pays for the party (that may mean the maid of honor or the MOH and all the bridesmaids), it's completely cool to ask everyone who comes to chip in for the bachelorette bash. But make it clear before the festivities begin. Inform all invitees what the plan is and how much the suggested contribution will be. No one should have a problem with it -- everyone wants to feel like she's showing the bride a good time.
Q. I, along with a few of the other bridesmaids, will be coming to the wedding from out of town, and will need to stay in a hotel for two to three nights. I know that the bride's family has reserved some rooms, but whose responsibility is it to pay? Also, is there any way to split the cost as a possible compromise?
A. Generally, attendants are responsible for paying their own way for accommodations, just as they pay for their attire and transportation. The bride's family may have been able to reserve a block of rooms at a discount, which ought to help save you some cash. Going halvesies is perfectly fine if her family is game; just know that they shouldn't be expected to pay. Bunking with one (or two) of the other bridesmaids is another way to cut costs.
Q. Who pays for bridesmaids' hair and makeup?
A. If the bride wants her attendants to have their hair and makeup done professionally, it's a nice gesture for her to offer to pay for these services on the morning of the wedding. The attendants are already paying for their dresses and -- if they don't live in the wedding city -- for travel and accommodations. You should not be expected to pay for professional hair and makeup as well. Tactfully bring up the issue with your bride (say "Should i do my hair myself for the wedding, or are you thinking of bringing someone in? How much does he/she charge?") just to make sure you're all on the same page.
Basics for Bridesmaids