Skip Nav
Job Search
How to Stop Notifying Everyone When Updating Your LinkedIn
Budget Tips
The Lean Household: 5 Ways to Manage Your Finances Like a Successful Startup
Job Search
Follow Up After a Job Interview With This Email

I Can't Afford the Bridesmaid Dress She Chose!

Ask a Savvy Bride: I Can't Afford the Bridesmaid Dress

Have you ever been asked to pay for an expensive bridesmaid dress that you just couldn't afford? If so, offer up your advice to Becky who's stuck in the same predicament. And if you have any questions of your own, ask them in the Ask Savvy group!

Dear Savvy,

I'm a bridesmaid in a dear friend's wedding this Summer and I'm honored and thrilled that she asked me to stand up for her on her special day. She's in full planning mode and has finally decided on the bridesmaid dresses, which is out of this world expensive. I know anything that revolves around the word "wedding" jacks up the price, but $400 seems a bit excessive. I am not in a place where I can afford to spend that much on a dress, not to mention all the other things I'll have to pay for (shower gifts, wedding gifts, shoes, etc.). What should I do?
Broke Becky

To see what a savvy bride has to say about this, keep reading after the jump.

Savvy says:

I feel your pain on this one, and I think most people reading can as well. In my opinion, when you say yes to being a bridesmaid, you say yes to everything that comes along with that role. If the dress she picks is expensive, you're pretty much stuck with buying it — it's par for the course. One suggestion I would make is do your homework — look around to see if you can find the same dress somewhere else at a different price. If that doesn't work, you'll most likely be ordering the dress a few months before the wedding so ask the store/company if they can set up a payment plan to lessen the blow. Other than that, there's unfortunately, nothing else you can really do. Planning a wedding is a very special time in your friend's life so smile, be there for her, and wear your $400 dress with pride! And then, wear it again. And again.

Ask anything budget-, etiquette-, or planning-related — well, almost anything — by posting your questions in the Ask Savvy group, and I'll find the right expert to help you out.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
LaylaDeen LaylaDeen 3 years
People need to stop accepting whatever the bride asks for. If the bride wants a lavish wedding, then her cheap butt should pay for it. It's YOUR wedding, why am I going to spend hundreds - thousands of dollars on YOUR wedding? Also, brides who still expect a gift from their bridesmaids = tacky. You made them pay for dresses, shoes, hair and makeup appointments, trips, parties AND you want them to give you a gift too>? Wow. Just plain selfish actually.
missbowie missbowie 5 years
As many others have said, look around for the same dress at a cheaper price. If that doesn't prove fruitful, ask the bride if having the dress made at a cheaper price, or finding a very similar dress at a cheaper price is acceptable. Also, see if the other bridesmaids are in a similar position not so that you can gang up on the bride, so that you might suggest that the price is a little too high and maybe not just for you.   However, at the end of the day when you accepted the offer of being a bridesmaid you accepted the responsibility of paying for the dress. It's common practice, and something you probably should have researched.
Yvonne2604640 Yvonne2604640 5 years
Really??? There are so many ways to get even designer dresses in the color requested, once worn or new!:check online; If it's mandatory to have the identical style speak to the bride/immediate family and ask for help financing it!!
le-romantique le-romantique 6 years
I was in a similar position this month... on top of the $400 bridesmaids dress, I had to get the $500 flight and a hotel room to be in the wedding... and time off work! I just told her I couldn't do it, because spending over $1,000 on someone else's wedding is insane. She just accepted it and quickly replaced me!
expresso14 expresso14 7 years
I would definitely ask the bride if there are some other options - especially since some of the dress companies make bridesmaids' dresses that are actually two pieces. For my sister's wedding we bridesmaids got to pick our tops (and I've actually worn mine with jeans and a blazer) and we all had the same skirt (long A-line). It was about $200, which was still a bit, but since I've been able to wear the pieces separately it's not as bad. As an additional idea, if the dress is relatively simple, you may be able to find someone to make it for you for less.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
pharm_chick, i totally disagree if you can find an IDENTICAL dress second hand or online for cheaper, fine, but to get one similar and hope the bride is okay with it is just setting yourself and the whole shebang up for disaster as a bride, i'd go nuts if one of my girls did to her if you want, but dont just go pick something else and hope it's cool...imagine how ridiculous that one odd bridesmaid in a different dress will look
bunnyhorse bunnyhorse 7 years
I don't think any bridesmaid should have to pay this much to be in a wedding. I would never ask my bridesmaids to spend that much! I told them they can all wear green, whatever shade suits their skin tone, and whatever price fits their budget. They have all picked out gorgeous dresses, ones they can keep and wear again.
medicgirl medicgirl 7 years
I paid for all my bridesmaids, I don't believe in people having to 'pay' to be in your wedding. I chose simple, cute and inexpensive dresses.
pharm_chick pharm_chick 7 years
i def think you should shop around for dresses similar enough to the one she picked out but closer to your budget; stay with whatever scheme she picked, long/short; pink/blue/black whatever, but as long as it looks close enough, hopefully the bride will agree. gl!
Spectra Spectra 7 years
One of my cousins was in my wedding and she told me she didn't think she could afford the dress. So my mom and I chipped in and paid for it. If you at least ask, maybe they could help you out somehow. It's worth a shot, anyway.
Deidre Deidre 7 years
You should never EVER agree to be a bridesmaid for someone if you can't talk openly with her (on the flip side of that, a bride should never ask someone to be in her wedding party out of obligation -- should just be close family/friends). With that said, you should be able to bring up your concerns to her. I'm sure you can work something out. $400 IS a lot for a bridesmaid dress, and she just may be so wrapped up in the fun planning mode that she's not thinking about logistics for her wedding party. If you're friendly with any of the other bridesmaids, ask discreetly about their thoughts on the price as well. If you're not alone on thinking it's a huge cost, then maybe y'all can offer to go with the bride to try on maid dresses one day to find an alternative. Good luck!
Yesi-Jukebox Yesi-Jukebox 7 years
To just deal with it is terrible advice. If you are close with the bride let her know it is something you can't afford, and I know that some people are suggesting you cut back on other things but what if you have already cut back on all your expenses? I do suggest doing your research and seeing if you can get the dress made for cheaper or if some other store has same the dress cheaper. I like the suggestion that you ask if you can pay the dress off as time goes by as well.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
Bull! I say talk to her! I think it is totally inconsiderate of the bride to ask her bridesmaids to pay that much for a dress they'll only wear once. $100 for a dress is reasonable, $400 is insane. I let my girls pick whatever black dress they wanted, and you know what, they looked great and they didn't hate me after. If I fell in love with dresses that were $400, I would at the very least offer to pay half the price.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 7 years
I would take your concerns to her. If she's a good friend she will understand. Maybe she will let you wear something less expensive or offer to pay for it. If not, I would tell her you cannot be her bridesmaid but can't wait to be a guest.
GirlOverboard GirlOverboard 7 years
My bridesmaids spent $40 each on their dresses, my MOH spent about $120 on hers - and I felt bad that she even spent that much! I let her pick out her dress, though, and it was what she wanted, especially since it was something she knew she'd be wearing again. I cannot even imagine basically forcing my bridesmaids to pay $400 each for a dress! If the two of you are at all close, I don't think it should be a problem to say that you know how stressful planning can be and you know she loves the dresses... but you just don't have the money to spend on the dress. Let her know that you're in no way expecting her to pay for it - especially with all of her wedding costs putting a big dent in her wallet (and possibly her credit history) but that you would be more than happy to help her find similar dresses that are less expensive. If the other maids haven't purchased their dresses yet (or if the place they're purchased from allows returns) see if you can find a few dresses that are similar and more affordable before approaching her. It might be less stressful if she already has other options in front of her. However, if the other girls have purchased their dresses and can't return them OR it's getting too close to the wedding to make any major changes... you may be out of luck on this one.
komler komler 7 years
I think I would have a talk with the bride about it. Even though as skigurl says you could save up for it, I don't see why you should have to shell out $400 for something you'd definitely only wear once, and quite possibly could not manage to sell on eBay for a similar amount. I also think that it is inconsiderate of a bride to expect her bridesmaids to pay that kind of money for their gowns. I'd much rather set a colour and style, and then let everybody select their own dresses within those parameters. (For example, pale blue, covered shoulders, hitting the knee...)
skigurl skigurl 7 years
like savvy said, there's nothing you can do...$400 is a lot for a dress, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not a can find ways to cut back $400 in household bills or shopping or food - don't eat out lunch for 2 months or don't get a latte for the summer...things like that.
sonya-ina sonya-ina 7 years
Honestly, if you're THAT close with the bride, I don't see a problem casually mentioning something about the price. I'm going to be a bridesmaid in one of my good friend's upcoming wedding, and we talk opening about those sort of costs. Good luck!
Saving to Travel For a Year
Peter Hermann and Mariska Hargitay Wedding Details
Couple Weds at Cardinals Game
How to Make $50 in One Day
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds