The Total Budget Breakdown: Bride vs. Bridesmaid

Image Source: Sanctuary Weddings

Image Source: Sanctuary Weddings

It’s no secret that weddings aren’t cheap for anyone involved. Which can make for some confusion, uneasiness, and even awkward conversations when it comes to knowing who is financially responsible for what. While some brides may shift things, there are general etiquette rules most choose to follow. So, if you’re a bride looking for some guidance, or a potential bridesmaid trying to figure out if you can afford to stand by your girl on her big day, we’re here to help debunk the mystery!


Typically, bridesmaids will be in charge of covering the costs of their own dresses and alterations. To try and keep costs low, see if a bride is willing to do a dress rental instead of having her girls purchase expensive dresses that they may never wear again! Many brides are trending towards Rent the Runway for their bridesmaids as they can have more upscale dresses at a fraction of the cost. If that’s not the direction a bride wants to go, see if she can pick a color and let each bridesmaid pick the style dress that’s in their budget.


Once again, accessories and shoes are traditionally paid by the bridesmaids. Luckily, these are things you can most likely use time and time again. These items can fall anywhere in a large range on the price scale, so it’s definitely one of those areas that you want to discuss with the bride ahead of time to determine a budget to stick to.


The financial responsibility of the bachelorette party falls on the bridesmaids. Planning a bachelorette party can easily grow into a monster of costs, so once again, discuss with your fellow bridesmaids to set a budget to stick to! Bachelorette parties don’t need to be a huge, expensive production. Traveling to a big destination isn’t realistic for most people’s budget. Consider a staycation or a fun girls weekend roadtrip instead of jetting off somewhere.

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When it comes to traveling to the location of the wedding, that falls solely on the bridesmaid. This would be the same if you were just attending as a guest. The couple is paying for enough as it is, it’s unrealistic for everyone’s travel to be in the budget for the weekend! If the wedding is an intimate destination wedding that is out of your budget, sit down and have a discussion with the bride and try to visit different options that may help you get there for a lower cost.

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As with the travel to and from the wedding, lodging for the weekend also falls on the bridesmaids’ shoulders. Ideally the couple will have secured a hotel block for the wedding guests offering a discounted rate on rooms to help keep costs lower. If you’re going solo, try to share a room with another bridesmaid to cut costs even more!

Image Source: Simone Lennon

Image Source: Simone Lennon

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Even as a bridesmaid, you should still be getting the newlyweds a present. Your presence isn’t present enough in this case! Check in with the other bridesmaids and see if there’s a specific item you can split and gift together. This gets the couple something special while minimizing individual costs.

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So this is where it depends on what route the couple chooses… if there’s a traditional bridal shower, the responsibility falls on the bridesmaids. However, if the couple opts for a Jack and Jill, they’re financially responsible. Check out our guide on throwing a Jack and Jill on a budget if that’s the route you’re going! If the bridesmaids are throwing a bridal shower, there are many ways to keep costs low and usually female relatives (mothers, aunts, etc.) will also pitch in and cover a lot of the costs.


It’s the bride’s responsibility to pay for the florals for the big day. This includes bouquets for the bridesmaids and the boutonnieres for the groomsmen. Most couples will choose a floral package that covers all of the needs for the big day. Brides beware… the flowers will be one of the largest expenses of your day! To keep costs limited, pick in-season flowers and focus on one or two special elements you want incorporated. Unfortunately, that floral arch you saved on Pinterest is probably $3,000… aka your entire floral budget.

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It’s the big day! How’s everyone getting from point a to point b? If your party is getting ready for the ceremony at a separate location, it’s on you as the bride to cover the cost of transportation to the event. Same goes for your reception being at a different venue than your ceremony. Many brides will ride in style, choosing a limo or town car to transport themselves and their crew to the festivities!

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If, as a bride, you are requiring your bridesmaids to get their hair and makeup professionally done, the financial responsibility falls on you. If the bride is not requiring her bridesmaids to get their hair and makeup done professionally, yet a bridesmaid would like to get done up by a professional, then the costs fall solely on her shoulders.

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Your girls are spending a pretty penny to support you on your big day, so show your appreciation with a small gift of gratitude! This can be something simple like a swag bag when you ask them to stand with you for the big day or maybe gifting them each a matching accessory to wear the day of the wedding. Nothing big and fancy is needed, but a small token is a great way to thank them for all they do!

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If you’re in a situation where the bridesmaids need to be on location the evening before the wedding, the lodging costs fall on the bride. Most likely this will be for the rehearsal dinner, but if your bridesmaids were attending your big day as a guest instead of in your bridal party, they wouldn’t have to be there the night before or spend the money on an additional hotel room.

Image Source: You & Your Wedding

Image Source: You & Your Wedding

While these are great guidelines to follow, it’s important to always sit down with your crew and discuss a budget and any financial concerns you have. Wedding planning is stressful enough without the lack of communication, so make everyone’s lives easier and be open and honest to give everyone the best chance of creating a magical day!