What Do Bridesmaids Pay For?

Discover the responsibilities of being a bridesmaid and learn what you need to pay for. From clothing, travel expenses to budgeting, our guide covers it all.
Mathew Megens
March 15, 2024
min read

What does a bridesmaid pay for? 

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid or you are a bride-to-be. Congratulations! But now that you’ve calmed down a little from the heady buzz of romance, rings and pretty dresses, you may also be asking yourself what do bridesmaids pay for?

Although every bride is different, there are some financial costs involved with being a bridesmaid and somebody will need to pay for them. This could include bridesmaid dresses, shoes, hair and make-up, hen parties and travel and accommodation before and after the big day.

As with anything to do with money, good communication is key. Chat about plans and potential costs with the bride before anything is spent, so you know what you’re in for:  a Champagne-fuelled destination wedding in Bali is going to hit your pocket significantly more than a register office job round the corner. Getting all this out in the open will avoid any shocks, misunderstandings and potentially awkward situations. And once you know the big picture, you’ll appreciate how much you’ll need to save up by putting away a specific amount each month. 

Let’s not forget that being asked to be a bridesmaid is a huge honour and reserved only for the best of friends, so the last thing you want to do is fall out over money. When you’re carrying the bride’s train Pippa Middleton-style down the aisle, there shouldn’t be any resentment about money owed or debts incurred. If neither the bride nor you can afford a Bali blow-out, you can easily shop around for lower-key, chic-but-cheap celebrations. 

What are the general roles and responsibilities of a bridesmaid?

The role of bridesmaids has changed hugely over time, and now comes with more responsibility than ever. Today, a bridesmaid is a wingwoman, responsible for making sure each part of the bride’s big day (and the big build-up) goes according to plan, from the getting ready to the professional photos and what’s posted on social media.

Historically, bridesmaids were chosen from close friends or family as decoys to ward off evil spirits supposedly targeting the bride. In some cultures, bridesmaids even contributed to the bride's dowry if her father couldn't afford it.

Now, the work begins months and sometimes years before walking down the aisle. Bridesmaids play a key part in organising the hen do, helping the bride to prepare for the big day, being there for her during the ceremony and leading celebrations at the reception. Duties could include:

  • Emotional Support: Being there for the bride during what will be a stressful time. Listening to her concerns, offering advice, and providing emotional support when needed.

  • Assisting with Wedding Planning: Helping with wedding planning tasks such as choosing dresses, coordinating fittings, addressing invitations, and organising bridal showers or hen parties.

  • Attending Events: Being present at pre-wedding events such as dress fittings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, and any other events the bride may have planned.

  • Helping the Bride Get Ready: Assisting the bride with getting ready on the wedding day, which may include helping her get dressed, doing her hair and makeup, and ensuring she has everything she needs.

  • Financial Responsibilities: Paying for your bridesmaid dress, shoes, accessories, and potentially contributing to other expenses such as travel, accommodations, and bridal shower or bachelorette party expenses.

Financial responsibilities of a bridesmaid

The evolving roles of a bridesmaids means that it could come with more costs. All the more reason to have an open and honest talks about money as early in the planning process as possible: 

  • Dress and attire: Bridesmaids are typically expected to buy their own dresses, shoes, and accessories for the wedding day. The cost of these can vary greatly depending on the bride's preferences and the level of formality of the wedding. Make sure your bride understands what you can reasonably save up for and afford - she wouldn’t want you to get into uncomfortable levels of debt any more than you would.

  • Hair and makeup: Bridesmaids may be responsible for covering the cost of professional hair styling and makeup application on the wedding day if they want a specific look. The bride will typically pay for her own costs and then it’s up to the bridesmaids to decide if they want to do it themselves or pay for a more pro look.

  • Travel and accommodation: If the wedding is out of town, bridesmaids are usually responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs. This can include flights, hotels, and transportation to and from the wedding venue.

  • Bridal shower and hen party: Bridesmaids typically plan and split the cost of the hen, or bachelorette, party, which can include travel, accommodation, activities, and entertainment for the bride.

  • Gifts and contributions: Bridesmaids are also expected to give the couple a wedding gift. This can be a group gift from all the bridesmaids, or an individual gift.

Budgeting tips for bridesmaids

Once you’ve had a conversation with the bride and know what you are expected to pay for, you can start to budget. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply list all of your outgoings and how many months you have before you need to pay out for anything. Then work backwards, looking at your income and outgoings, calculating how much you need to set aside each month for your bridesmaid budget.. It’s a good idea to use tech to help here. The HyperJar app, for example, allows you to create separate jars for different expenses. You might want a single jar for all your bridesmaid expenses, or multiple jars for things like travel, dress, hair and beauty and the gift. 

You can even schedule payments into these jars each month as soon as you’ve been paid so you don’t need to remember to pay in each month - it’s done for you.

If you notice that your income doesn't allow you to set aside as much as you like, you can reduce your costs. There’s no point in getting into debt to be a bridesmaid, no matter how good a friend you are. Look on sites like Vinted for second hand bridesmaid dresses or ask friends if they have a posh frock you can borrow for the day. The same goes for shoes.

You could also cut costs by planning a lower key hen do, sharing a room with other bridesmaids to save money on accommodation, and do each other’s hair and make-up.

Usually a bride will have more than one bridesmaid and you’re all in this together. You can use HyperJar to share bridesmaid expenses, and to motivate each other to keep saving up ahead of the big day.  Using shared jars means you can split costs easily so no-one’s losing out. Remember to keep the communication up - be honest with each other and make sure you’re all sensitive to each other’s financial situations.  

Don't let bridesmaid expenses become a burden! Simplify your wedding planning with HyperJar

While being a bridesmaid does come with costs, worrying about it could ruin the big day. If you’d like to enjoy the day as much as you can, download HyperJar when you want to start budgeting.

HyperJar makes money management easy, allowing you to create jars and set targets based on what you can realistically afford. When payday comes around, transfer money into HyperJar from your bank and start to plan where it needs to go - travel, dress, make-up artist etc. 

With HyperJar, you can

  • Share Jars with your bridal besties to plan and pay for joint expenses, from the hen party to the wedding gift

  • Send messages inside Jars to each other - for payment nudges or a round at the bar

  • Avoid the temptation to overspend or get into debt. HyperJar is a prepaid card so you can’t spend any more than you’ve got in your jars. It’s impossible to get into debt.


Need any more help with the wedding budget? Here are some other blogs that could be useful reading:

How to set your wedding budget

The financial benefits of marriage in the UK

How to stick to a budget

Mathew Megens

Co-Founder of HyperJar

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