My sister has been in oh, about 27 weddings over the last ten or so years (that estimate might be low). She’s recently started complaining about how she’s had to buy all these bridesmaid dresses costing anywhere from $150-$300+, not to mention shoes and worst of all, most of them she’ll NEVER wear again. It sucks when your bride pal picks a dress you hate right?
One might argue that she could simply refuse to be in these weddings, but she’s a good friend and wants to make everyone happy. What her complaining has inspired me to do is to look up this odd tradition because personally, I’ve never understood it and this is one of those old school traditions that’s just not very eco-friendly.
At The Knot they note, “Bridesmaids are generally expected to pay for their own wedding-day ensemble (shoes and jewelry included).” Being that the Knot is all things weddings, I expected more. I looked around and The Knot also says, “Your maids will have to pay for their own ensembles — from the dress to the shoes to the jewelry. They’ll pony up for the shower and the bachelorette party, wedding weekend accommodations, and gifts. All in all, their pocketbooks will take a beating. So remember to be nice to them in return.” I’ll say!
At another wedding site it’s noted, “The most traditional approach, approved by etiquette gurus of the 1960s, is that the bride chooses the bridesmaid dresses, and the bridesmaids grit their teeth and wear them without a murmur of protest.”
Hmmm. I looked and looked and basically everywhere I turned it said common etiquette is that bridesmaids pay for their own attire. Finally I found one gal who was questioning this tradition too and who also, was in fact paying for her bridesmaid dresses.
What’s the big deal?
First of all, this whole wacky tradition just goes against common sense. You might throw a party and tell everyone, “Hey, bring a six-pack!” but you don’t ever throw a party and tell only your best pals to bring 40 six packs each. You also don’t tell people what to wear then make them pay for whatever you pick out. WHO does that in real life? Why should your wedding be different? This wedding was presumably your choice, it’s your party, you should pay for the wedding. We’re all adults – admit it, this makes sense.
The most common argument I’ve heard for bridesmaids paying is that, “We picked out an awesome dress that they can wear again and again so they should pay” – this statement usually comes from the bride mind you who means “Me” not “We.” I’ve got a slew of bridesmaids who will argue that they’ve never ever worn that “awesome” dress again.
Another argument for bridesmaids paying I’ve commonly seen is, “I’m having so many bridesmaids that it’d be impossible for me to pay.” Well, in real life if you can’t afford something you find a better way (hopefully).
Most of all though, this just isn’t a very eco-friendly practice. If you seriously aren’t going to wear a dress but once, it’s such a waste of energy, materials and the money is like the cherry on the cake. I don’t think you can honestly have a green wedding and know that a bulk of the clothing in said wedding is one-time fare only.
For my wedding, I’d likely one, not have an actual wedding party set-up anyhow – the day should be more about you and your partner, and two, if I did happen to have a wedding party, I’d just say, wear something nice sure, but but that’s as far as I’d go. People will be more comfortable and happy if they can wear what they like – and on your wedding day don’t you want happy guests?
Sigh. Maybe I’m missing something… Still, if you want to balk tradition and some heavy costs you could go sans bridesmaids or you could choose some eco-friendly dresses that aren’t so overly fancy so that people will really be able to use them again. I’d gather some ideas (just ideas) but then have your bridesmaids choose and then I’d pay. If my bridesmaids didn’t want to keep their dress I’d just make sure they were donated to a decent cause.
What do you think? Is it really in green wedding style to choose one-time dresses? AND what do you think about making bridesmaids pay for their own dresses – good idea or not so much?