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Wedding party: What should you pay for?

by | 9 December 2017 | Wedding Entourage

It’s so exciting being asked to be a bridesmaid or groomsman. But once you’ve stopped smiling from ear to ear, it’s worth asking what you’re expected to pay for before you accept the honour.

‘Tradition’ in today’s wedding is a tricky concept to pin down, especially when it comes to grey areas like who pays for the wedding party’s suits and dresses, transport and accommodation. Like in any modern wedding, there are no set rules. But to give you a general idea of what bridesmaids and groomsman are expected to fork out for in Western weddings, here’s a list.

What the wedding party pays for

Suits and dresses

Typically, members of the wedding party are expected to pay for their own outfit for the big day. This is a hard pill for bridesmaids in particular to swallow because it doesn’t matter how on trend your dress is, you’ll probably only wear it once (and nine times out of ten, the bride picks the dress to fit in with her colour schemes).

But some nearlyweds know this is a big ask. So they often supplement the cost of the bridesmaid and groomsmen outfits, or pay for them in full. If you’re lucky enough to experience this, it’s likely you’ll be given a budget before you go shopping. And if you want any alterations, you should pay for it.

Shoes, hair, and makeup

Usually, you’d wear a pair of your own shoes or buy your own to match the suit or dress. But if the bride and groom want you to wear a specific type of shoe, they should supplement the cost or pay for them entirely.

As for hair and makeup, if the bride wants to hire professionals to get you all spruced up before the ceremony, that cost is on her. If you have a close friendship, you might want to offer to pay your share. But know that it’s not expected of you.

Transport to and from the wedding

Even though you are part of the wedding party, you’re still an attendant, so you should find your own way to and from the wedding. Sometimes, the bride will travel to the ceremony in a car with her dad, with her bridal party following behind in a separate car. If this is the case for you, or the couple in question have budgeted for a bus to take all the guests to the venue, you’re off the hook.

Wedding party: What should you pay for? - wedding transport


If your friends are getting married in a different town or city to where you live, it’s usually your responsibility to arrange your own place to stay. Sometimes, if budget isn’t an issue or the venue is remote, the couple will pay for accommodation for those who are involved in the wedding; so immediate family and the wedding party.

If your friends are having their wedding abroad, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll pay for your flights and accommodation.

The hen or stag do

As members of the wedding party, you’re expected to whisk the bride or groom-to-be off their feet and pay their way at the hen or stag do. This is fine if you’re heading to a theme park, going paintballing or having a spa day; as a group, you can split the bride or groom’s costs between all of you without taking too much of a hit.

But if the bride or groom want to do something in particular – like a long weekend abroad in Europe somewhere – you shouldn’t be expected to pay their fare. And if budget is getting tight, there’s always the option to have a sten party.

Wedding gifts for the happy couple

Guests tend to buy individual gifts for the couple or give them money towards their honeymoon, mortgage, life… But an individual gift isn’t expected from each of the wedding party members. If you really want to, you can. But it’s more common for you all to chip in and buy a group gift.

There you have it – a list of things the wedding party does and does not pay for. Of course, each couple and each wedding budget is different, so this isn’t a definitive list. But it gives you a good idea of what costs you should expect to pay if you’re asked to be a bridesmaid or groomsman.

A wedding gift table

Have you been a bridesmaid or groomsman and experienced issues with cost? Share your insights in the comments box below.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.


Wedding Entourage Wedding party: What should you pay for?