Should Bridesmaids And Groomsmen Ever Have To Pay For Their Wedding Outfit?

The issue: sometimes you are asked to be a bridesmaid or groomsmen, and about a year later when all of the budget has been spent, you are asked to buy your own wedding outfit, rather than have it paid for by the bride and groom.

I see the argument from two sides: 1) If the bridesmaids and groomsmen weren’t having an important role on the wedding day, they would be buying their own wedding outfit, and so why should this situation be any different? But, 2) The bride and groom get to pick the outfit they want you to wear on the day, whatever the cost, and you have to pay for it…for one day of your life…when you might not even like it.

I’m not going to sit on the fence on this topic either; surprise, surprise.

Bridesmaids and groomsmen should not have to pay for the outfit they are required, by the bride and groom, to wear on the day. If you need some further convincing about this etiquette then just switch on an episode of Don’t Tell The Bride, and see the look on the girls’ faces when the groom tells them they have to buy their own dress and shoes. I usually switch it off after that due to pure righteous indignation.

Don’t get me wrong; I know why it happens. Brides and grooms spend their entire budget on the things they need to book in advance – the venue, the photographer, the caterers etc. They obviously buy their own wedding get-up too. Often, this means that the outfits for the bridesmaids and groomsmen become an afterthought, and this leaves them with no option but to ask them to buy their own.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a bridesmaid for example (probably a kitten heel from New Look; there’s no money left to buy the KG’s remember). Let’s say that you don’t share the same style as the bride, that’s fine if she’s paying. It’s her day and she can dress you in whatever she wants. You’re never going to wear it again, but you won’t feel guilty about it because you haven’t spent a load of money on it yourself. But to be asked to spend £500 on a dress you don’t like and are never going to wear again, last-minute, is going to lead to a whole lot of guilt and anxiety. For the sake of someone else’s wedding which lasts exactly one day of your life? Nope, it just doesn’t fly with me.

It’s the same for groomsmen. All guys past a certain age own a suit, but obviously not everyone owns the same exact suit, or even a suit in the same colour. So, if the groom wants all his buddies to be matchy-matchy for the day then you all have to get a new one. If he’s paying, cool. But it’s not cool if you already own 3 suits that you’re completely happy with, and feel that you don’t need another one. Why would you then want to purchase another suit, which someone else’s style has dictated you must wear, for just one day? Even if it just costs you £100, that £100 could be used for a holiday, Christmas, or for saving for a house. WE ALL HAVE BILLS TO PAY PEOPLE.

Revisiting the two sides of the argument; yes, it is true that all the other guests will be purchasing their own outfit for the wedding. But they get to choose how much of an impact it has on their finances, not the bride and groom. I have worn £20 dresses from Boohoo to weddings before because I’m only 22 and don’t have hundreds of pounds sitting in my bank, waiting to be spent on a dress for someone’s wedding. Maybe my own, but that’s different. If I were a bridesmaid, however, my dress would not, in any universe, cost me £20. And if, as a bridesmaid, I was told a month before the wedding that my dress would be costing a lot more than £20 and I needed to pay for it, then I would be in a very tricky and unsettling position. I’m a business-owner and therefore I have to plan and budget fairly well, in case there’s ever a low month I need to compensate for. Many people, like me, would have to turn down the opportunity to be bridesmaid if it meant forking out for their outfit last minute. It’s true – money really does rule the world.

The only exception that I can see to brides and grooms asking their closest friends to pay for their outfits is if they told them that this would be the case as soon as they ask them to take on the role. I’m talking straight after the engagement. BMs and GMs then have the option of accepting that they will be paying, and factor in saving for the outfit over the coming year, or to still say no. And to be fair, I’d be down for that.

So brides and grooms, come on. You may not have the money to pay for 5 dresses and 5 suits, but how do you know your friends have? Don’t put them in a position that no friend would ever like to be put in just because it’s your wedding day. I’ll hold my breath and type this really fast, but it’s just a wedding. After all, they’ve probably paid an extortionate amount to attend your hen and stag, and will have to buy you a crazy-good wedding present because they’ve been your best friends since you were five, or whatever.

So just let them wear what they want if you don’t have any money left in the kitty to buy them all the same. Surely it’s more important that they’re standing next to you and supporting you on the day, rather than in the dress/suit you wanted them to wear. Alternatively, just go and hire everything – it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and no one is going to feel guilty about a wasted dress or suit afterwards. Simples.

Charlotte xoxox