Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “How Do I Tell My Bridesmaids I’m Not Paying for Their Hair and Makeup?”

It’s Wedding Week on Dear Wendy! This week will be chock-full of wedding columns, gift guides, dollar dances and an open bar. If you love wedding content, this is your lucky week. If you hate wedding content, this is your lucky week because–-open bar! But just kidding about the open bar.

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I’m getting married soon and have decided to pay for the bridesmaids’ dresses for my four bridesmaids (roughly $150 each) as their “bridesmaid gift.” I’ll still give each one a nice keepsake at the rehearsal dinner, BUT my question is: How do I tell them that I’m not paying for their hair/makeup the day of, but that I will book their appointment with my stylist if they would like it? Etiquette says I should pay, but is there a tactful way of saying what I’m not paying for? — Paying For Their Dresses

Sure, you could just say something like, “I know all of you will look beautiful without any professional help, but you’re welcome to join me for hair and makeup appointments with my stylist the day of the wedding. It’s certainly not a requirement, so if you’d like me to book an appointment for you, I’ll have to ask you to be responsible for the cost. Thank you for understanding!”

What I think you might want to spend a bit more attention on is the actual gift you’ll be giving your bridesmaids. Paying for their dresses is a nice gesture that I’m sure is appreciated, but you probably know as well as the rest of us that they’ll likely never wear theses dresses again after your wedding and, since it’s probably a dress YOU picked out for YOUR wedding, how much of a “gift” is it really? And a “nice keepsake” (of your wedding, I’m assuming?) will probably get tossed in a junk drawer or something. I mean, who cares to have a keepsake of someone else’s wedding? I’d suggest giving gifts they might actually have use for and enjoy. It doesn’t have to be expensive at all (here are a few suggestions and keep your eye out for some more later today), but a token of appreciation that shows you’re thinking of them and their enjoyment is a nice way to say thank you for the time, energy, and money they will have spent supporting you in your wedding planning and on the big day itself.

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70 comments… add one
  • juliecatharine

    juliecatharine May 5, 2015, 8:14 am

    Wendy is right on LW. You sound like a bride who really cares about her bridesmaids (nice change from yesterday’s LW!). My best friend gave us tiny hoop earrings that were simple, beautiful, and that I truly treasure. The gift doesn’t need to be expensive but do put real thought and effort into it–it’s a symbol of thanks and the love you have for the girls who have had your back.

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  • avatar

    Ani Nani May 5, 2015, 8:14 am

    I have never heard that etiquette requires a bride to pay for the bridesmaids’ hair and makeup. It certainly isn’t the norm where I live. I would consider the dress enough of a gift. You are saving them $150. I bought my bridesmaids a personalized tote, flip flops, a pashmina, and an emergency grooming kit. The cost of that was about $30-$35, and that is probably the value of what I have gotten as a bridesmaid.

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    • avatar

      simonthegrey May 7, 2015, 11:00 am

      My maid of honor paid for me to get my hair done. I didn’t want her to but she snuck off and did it. Of course, it was just the two of us. I didn’t ask them to do hair or make-up and all I did was have mine straightened and highlighted because I wanted a natural look (outdoor wedding).

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana May 5, 2015, 8:21 am

    If you aren’t paying for the hair and makeup, then you can’t require them to get it–if you aren’t requiring it, I don’t think this is rude. You can say exactly what Wendy said, but also let them know if they do want to get their hair done elsewhere (I think getting makeup done as a bridesmaid is just silly) they are welcome to and just to meet at spot A by this time to continue getting ready or whatever. My SIL didn’t pay for anything of ours, or get us gifts, or basically anything but she also didn’t require that we get our hair done, she let us know we could use the stylist she and her sister and her good friend were using-the girl was going to the venue where we were getting ready. Instead me and my two sisters opted to book early morning appointments and go to our mom’s hair stylist who did it for about 1/4 of the cost, so that was nice, we didn’t have to get our hair done but honestly who isn’t going to for a wedding unless they can do really nice hair styling or have a friend who can do it for free-so it was nice we didn’t feel like we had to use her expensive stylist. Anyways -to me, paying for that service for your bridesmaids is not a required thing unless you actually are like “you need to have your hair done professionally”.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph May 5, 2015, 8:53 am

      I was surprised how common it was to hire makeup artists. The thought never crossed my mind until my best friend’s wedding where she made all 9 of her bridesmaids get it done and pay for it themselves. She was way into uniformity. And they did some weird airbrush foundation which basically made me not look like me. I have freckles and I like them, damn it!

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana May 5, 2015, 8:59 am

        Yeah…I just think make up artists can be a lot–I don’t wear much makeup but I know how to put it on and I know what looks pretty on me, and same with all the other girls in our bridal party–if my friend was requiring us to get the makeup done I would just tell her I wasn’t doing it, honestly. Ha but I am so at my tethers end with brides/wedding stuff.

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 5, 2015, 9:22 am

        My little sister didn’t have a makeup artist for her wedding. My middle sister did. We all got it done… and believe me, I was skeptical at first…. but she made each of us look natural and picked complimenting colors for our skin tone. I was glad because I really don’t wear or own a lot of makeup, so it was nice to have someone really cover up the blemishes.

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      • avatar

        Stillrunning May 5, 2015, 9:50 am

        I can’t get over the 9 bridesmaids. Is that a record?

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph May 5, 2015, 11:41 am

        Someone down-thread had a comment about 12. TWELVE.
        9 was completely unmanageable. The bachelorette party was a huge sloppy drunken mess. Followed by a 30 min ride home in the party bus that became the puke bus. I am scarred for life by that event.

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      • avatar

        Ange May 5, 2015, 8:50 pm

        My makeup artist did airbrushing as well. It was great in that it lasted but she did a terrible job overall. My face was a totally different colour to the rest of me and I still had visible blemishes somehow. I ended up having to redo it the best I could in the bathroom and I was the bloody bride!

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh May 5, 2015, 8:34 am

    I agree with Mucha that if you’re not requiring they have it done then you don’t need to pay for it. I’m also with Wendy that paying for the dress is nice, but it’s not the a ‘gift’ just a kind thing to do. Has anyone ever worn a bridesmaid dress again? That wasn’t a pick anything you want out, but that was a David’s Bridal-esque dress? I don’t think I know anyone who has.

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    • avatar

      K May 5, 2015, 8:46 am

      Nope. Which is why after wasting hundreds of dollars on dresses I’ll never wear again, I’ve decided that if I get married, I’m doing the mismatched bridesmaid thing, like so: http://www.fabulousfrocksbridal.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/48983933cee71afafd5f7ff2ab97a9c8.jpg

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      • call-me-hobo

        call-me-hobo May 5, 2015, 8:55 am

        You know, I TRIED to do the mismatched bridesmaid thing and my bridesmaids were VERY against it- They all told me they would rather me just pick one out! I was shocked. I ended up giving them a couple options and having the popular one win. Weird, right?

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph May 5, 2015, 9:01 am

        I am not surprised by this. I mean it looks so flipping cute in that picture, but I think if you’re not a stylist, it’s hard to pull off. I also had 5 bridesmaids in 4 states so it wasn’t like they could all go shopping together and be like “ok, all these colors go together.”

        I told my bridesmaids that they could pick whatever style, and it could be short or long. They even got weirded out by that and between themselves decided which 2 would go short and which 3 would go long because they thought it would look weird if there was one long and 4 short or something. Also they were worried about 2 choosing the same style.
        I didn’t muster to care, but I guess looking back I can see that it would have looked weird if only one girl was in a different length than the other.

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      • avatar

        K May 5, 2015, 9:25 am

        Yeah, I think the key is having them all be a similar length. I figure I’d show them a sample photo and say “stay in this color scheme, and just above the knee” or something. But if they wanted to wear the same dress that would be easier I suppose! Apparently mismatched groomsmen are also a thing. I told this to my boyfriend, because he was complaining that he has to rent a tux for his friend’s wedding this summer when he owns a tux.

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      • avatar

        Ladybug May 5, 2015, 10:17 am

        One of my friends managed the mismatched dresses really well by picking a designer, color, and length but letting the bridesmaids pick their own dresses from there. We had about 20 options and all of us ended up with something different, but they were similar enough to still look coordinated. Plus everyone got something they found comfortable and flattering.

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      • avatar

        Milla May 5, 2015, 8:42 pm

        I did the mismatched bridesmaids thing (asked everyone to wear something in grey, pink, or green) and it worked out beautifully. Three of them wore things they already owned, and the other two had dresses made for them by family (my mom made my sister one, and my MoH had her grandma sew her one). My sister made flower crowns for all the bridesmaids so they came together visually, and we gave them earrings and bracelets to go with their outfits. There was a little panicking from one bridesmaid, but she put together a really lovely outfit that suited her perfectly. It felt homey and warm and cozy in the end.

        http://static1.squarespace.com/static/518550b4e4b0b930f1cb4182/t/53e8fdb8e4b06fcb0daac119/1407778270540/?format=1000w

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      • mylaray

        mylaray May 5, 2015, 9:06 pm

        I love those flower wreaths! So pretty. One of my friends recently had one for her wedding. Wish I did something like that.

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      • avatar

        zombeyonce May 5, 2015, 12:44 pm

        I did the mismatched bridesmaid dresses at my wedding but slightly differently. I picked a color (navy blue) and they all found a dress in that color but in whatever style they liked. I don’t know if any every wore their dresses again, but at least it was something they liked and felt comfortable in. And the pictures looked pretty great and every looked unique with their own dresses and accessories.
        .
        Here’s a picture of them (they looked so great!): http://finikki.tumblr.com/post/20433335800

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      • Lyra

        Lyra May 5, 2015, 5:23 pm

        My bridesmaids liked the different styles, but they were incessant on wearing the same shoes. One of them is an art teacher so she’s really particular…since we had different styles of dresses she insisted that we had the same shoes. Shoes seriously took hours and hours and hours. Deciding on the dresses was like…30 minutes.

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    • muchachaenlaventana

      muchachaenlaventana May 5, 2015, 8:55 am

      I will probably wear the bridesmaid dress I wore to my brother’s wedding to another wedding this summer. It is a really unique and pretty dress and even though its chiffon it doesn’t scream “bridesmaid” and is something I would probably have worn on my own. It did cost upwards of $300 though so I feel like I *have* to wear it again. My SIL picked a bridal designer (amsale) and then we did like a gradient of colors so every girl got a different dress style if they wanted and a different color. I liked it. If I ever get married though and have to have a bridal party–only reason I could think would be if my partner really wanted to have some groomsman I will tell them to wear whatever they want on the day–seriously like whatever dress in whatever color.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph May 5, 2015, 8:56 am

      I never have, but I’m happy to report that TWO of my bridesmaids wore their dresses again, which is probably some kind of record. I picked an Alfred Angelo color and let them pick their own style dress as long as it came in the color. One friend wore hers to another wedding later than year, and another wore hers for formal night on a cruise.
      My best friend’s bridesmaid dresses were really bad. The color was okay I guess (blue, but like closer to royal than navy) but the style was so unflattering. It gave me back fat and showed my stomach rolls. I totally meant to list it on a website to try to sell it (even had it dry cleaned right away so I could) but its still sitting in my closet 2 years later so I guess not.

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    • avatar

      ktfran May 5, 2015, 9:25 am

      My sister picked navy J Crew dresses for her wedding last fall. I’m wearing that to a wedding this year. But other bridesmaid dresses… umm…. heck no!
      .
      I’m adding a sparkly best to the dress and wearing comfortable shoes, so I am switching it up a bit.

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      • avatar

        K May 5, 2015, 9:26 am

        One of the dresses I haven’t worn again is a J Crew dress. The style was definitely wearable again, but the color…bright, deep pink. Navy is definitely better!

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana May 5, 2015, 9:30 am

        Where I live EVERYONE does the Jcrew dresses so it is really awkward to show up to a wedding wearing your old jcrew bridesmaid dress and have the bridesmaids be wearing theirs…which I have seen happen at a few weddings.

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 5, 2015, 9:34 am

        Very true… I know I won’t look like a bridesmaid to this wedding over 4th of July weekend because I’ve seen the dresses. I’m safe this time!!!!!

        My two other weddings this year, I’m wearing a lace dress that I bought from JCrew, but it’s black and lace and doesn’t look anything like a bridesmaid dress.

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    • Lady_Red

      Red_Lady May 5, 2015, 10:51 am

      I have a navy knee-length dress from David’s Bridal that I wore again to my nephew’s baptism. I might have worn it another time too. I just throw a cardigan over it and it looks nice and casual/dressy. The fabric wasn’t too shiny though, it almost looks like cotton.

      I’ve worn the bridesmaids dress from my own wedding many times (I bought myself one because I liked it so much) but it was just a $30 sundress.

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      • othy

        othy May 5, 2015, 2:14 pm

        I regret not buying one of the bridesmaids skirts for myself. I got a simple, a-line skirt for all of my bridesmaids and let them pair it with a black blouse of their choice. I loved the skirts and I wish I had purchased one too!

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh May 5, 2015, 10:54 am

      I have never been in or to a wedding where the dresses could be worn again. Unless you were talking a formal event and in most cases the colors weren’t really what myself or my friends in the wedding would ever pick. But, it’s nice to see that a lot of people are adjusting and using dresses that can be worn again. I’m just so used to the very formal david’s bridal dress that no one wants to see again!

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    • avatar

      simonthegrey May 7, 2015, 11:04 am

      My maid of honor has worn her dress again and I have worn my wedding dress. Of course, I had a themed wedding and had my dress made so I could wear it to costume events, and likewise for the bridesmaid.

      I also didn’t get married in white. I look horrible in all shades of white, and since white is merely a trope in our culture, I wore a color in which I look good.

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  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl May 5, 2015, 8:45 am

    I did not pay for my bridesmaid’s hair and makeup. Instead, I had a makeup consultant come to my house and she had a flat rate which I informed my bridesmaids of ahead of time and said if they were interested, they just needed to reserve a spot.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster May 5, 2015, 11:18 am

      I think that a great way to handle it. That is how it’s gone for every wedding I’ve been in (and I’ve been in quite a few). Some of the brides surprised us by paying for hair and makeup on the day of, but most of the time it was on the bridesmaids to handle it. I usually get my hair done because my hair is a pain in the ass to put in an up-do without help (I have super straight, thin hair, but a TON of it. So it’s heavy and it slips out of bobby pins super easily.) and do my makeup myself.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph May 5, 2015, 8:45 am

    Yeah this may definitely be a regional thing. Where I’m from it’s both expected that the bridesmaids will get hair/makeup done if the bride desires and that the bridesmaids will pay for it themselves. (This is bullshit but that’s “how its done”)
    For my wedding I didn’t hire a makeup artist for anyone– we all did our own makeup. (I said “I’m doing my own, but if anyone would like their makeup done professionally, I can help you find someone.” Nobody wanted in, which was great because that was one less thing I had to worry about.)
    My best friend was aghast like “you’re going to have these pictures forever what if someone looks like a clown?!” And I was like “whatever.” Everyone looked beautiful, and actually one of my favorite wedding day memories is all the bridesmaids and me crowding around the hotel bathroom mirror doing our makeup. (Also since we did our own makeup, part of their bridesmaid gift was an eyeshadow palette that I picked out for each of them– and told them they could but didn’t have to wear them that day… I also included gift receipts in case they hated them.)

    Anyways, I definitely think that if you aren’t paying (and really, even if you are) the nice thing to do is to offer them the option (I am shit at doing my own hair and would always opt in for a hair appointment) and offer to book them in at the same place you’re going.
    I’ve really never heard it being custom for the bride to pay, so maybe check on that before you tell them something they already know. If it is, then Wendy’s wording is perfect.

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  • Stonegypsy

    Stonegypsy May 5, 2015, 8:49 am

    WWS all around. If you’re not requiring them to get hair and makeup done, there’s no reason for you to pay for it. And paying for the dress is nice, but honestly I think it’s a baseline, not a gift. It’s a really nice gesture, definitely, and too many people don’t, but when you’re requiring someone to wear a specific thing, I think it’s only fair that you buy that thing for them.

    As for the gifts, definitely put some thought into it. Even without the cost of the dress, being a bridesmaid is hard and deserves a thoughtful ‘thank you’ gift. When I got married, I scoured ebay and got my bridesmaids each a little antique handbag that I thought they would like, and then grabbed some cute handmade earrings for each of them on Etsy.

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    • muchachaenlaventana

      muchachaenlaventana May 5, 2015, 8:56 am

      ha I wish more people thought like this. In the past year I have spent $800 on bridesmaid dresses. Where I live noone would really even think to offer to buy them for their bridesmaids.

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy May 5, 2015, 9:02 am

        I know, honestly I think it’s really rude to be like “Okay, guys, you’re going to be wearing *this* dress. Yes you have to wear it. That’ll be $200 please.”

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        K May 5, 2015, 11:43 am

        I recently spent a bit over $200 on a bridesmaids dress and it was more than I wanted to spend. But we had one day to dress shop with the bride and the most expensive dress flattered both of us and no others came close to looking good…so to avoid another shopping trip and more searching, it was just easier to say yes to that one. But the bride didn’t force us into it, which we appreciated.

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy May 5, 2015, 12:54 pm

        Yeah. The way I ended up doing it was taking my bridesmaids to a dress shop. I had a couple colors in mind that I was looking for, and a set budget, and based on that I let them pick whichever dress they liked and felt good in.
        I only had two bridesmaids, and I had made their dresses part of the overall budget/wedding savings plan

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    • Lyra

      Lyra May 5, 2015, 9:36 am

      I told my bridesmaids right away that I was going to keep their costs as low as possible, but it was honestly hard for me to ask them to pay for the dresses. Fortunately the dresses ended up being below $100, and my maid of honor helped me to realize that they were all ok paying for a dress (we are all friends so they know each other very well). We also chose the dresses together — they chose their style in the wedding color that I had chosen.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana May 5, 2015, 9:40 am

        Yeah this can be tricky too..I know for both of the weddings I am in this summer I am definitely the most poor of all of the bridesmaids so for them, honestly a $200-$300 dress is nowhere near the financial burden it is for me so it just depends. Sometimes its the bridesmaids who *want* to get the more expensive dresses.

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        SpaceySteph May 5, 2015, 11:59 am

        The thing I’ve learned about clothes in general as I’ve gotten older and better off financially, is that expensive clothes quite often do look better than cheap clothes. The most flattering and best constructed and longest lasting clothes I have come from Ann Taylor, The Limited, White House Black Market, etc. and fit SO SO SO much better than the stuff they sell at Target and Old Navy.
        So it’s not surprising that the same is often true of bridesmaids dresses, too. If you want a dress that can fit and flatter multiple body types, then sometimes you have to spend more.
        Now not everyone can afford that, and not everyone cares… but I can see where all the bridesmaids would be like “This One” and have that be an expensive one because it really truly is better made and looks better.

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        Sunshine Brite May 5, 2015, 12:22 pm

        My old coworker had that. Her bridesmaids independently picked out and pushed a $300 dress so she’s like well if you guys are sure, ok?

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  • call-me-hobo

    call-me-hobo May 5, 2015, 8:50 am

    If you aren’t requiring they get it done, you don’t have to pay for it. All my bridesmaids did each other’s hair when we were getting ready. As for the special gift thing, all of my friends have such different personal taste, instead of getting them jewelry I got them custom bathrobes in the wedding colors (got them on etsy for like- $35). They all surprised me by wearing them while getting ready, and they all still use them even afterwards.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra May 5, 2015, 9:31 am

      Etsy is amaaaaaazing for customized gifts. Love it!

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        Bfly May 5, 2015, 11:22 am

        Also agree about Etsy. As part of our gift to our ring bearer and flower girl we gave them these customized crayon/ color pencil rolls that had their name embroidered on them with a cute design for whatever they were into at the time (like princesses or Dora or whatever– I honestly forget what it was at this time. They loved them.

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  • avatar

    Bfly May 5, 2015, 9:02 am

    I think it’s nice that you are paying for the dress. While I agree that this is not a gift since they will likely not wear it again, it is still a nice gesture because all of the weddings I have been a part of, I had to buy my own dress. Gifts should be something that is not about you, but about them. For my wedding I did a necklace (that I’ve seen them each wear since the wedding many times) and a specific personalized gift for each (since the necklace was something I wanted them to wear at the wedding). Basically, I agree with Wendy and think there are a lot of nice options on her list.
    As for hair and make-up, as a bridesmaid, it’s always been optional to tag along with the bride to get my hair done also, which I’ve taken advantage of because I can’t curl my hair (and keep it that lasting that way for the whole day. When I was a bride, my sister and cousin did their own hair and they looked beautiful for it because they knew how to style their hair best and they didn’t want to spend the money. So as long as you leave it up to them and don’t require anything, it is not rude to not pay for it.

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    • avatar

      K May 5, 2015, 9:27 am

      That’s really nice that you gave an additional gift besides the jewelry. I’ve only ever gotten jewelry that I was expected to wear on the day. One set I’ve worn again multiple times, the other I didn’t really.

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 5, 2015, 9:31 am

        Yeah… twice I’ve received jewelry that I NEVER wore again. Wasn’t my style. My middle sister gave us each Baggu totes, which I guess are super popular. A pretty handkerchief. The necklace she wanted us to wear. And I think something else, but can’t remember. Wait, a pashmina to wear if it was cool outside. I still use that. And the tote.

        Actually LW, we all love our totes. I think a nice tote is a really good idea for a bridesmaid gift. Most women love bags and purses. Of course, I’m generalizing, but I honestly can’t think of one female friend who doesn’t .

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        SpaceySteph May 5, 2015, 9:36 am

        Totes are great. I love totes! But get them totes they’ll like and want to use, not ones in your wedding colors that say like “bridesmaid” on them or something. They’re a bridesmaid for a day.
        I was given a bedazzled black shirt that said ‘bridesmaid’ on it for one wedding. Wore it the day-of when we got ready, never wore it again, gave it to Goodwill a year later. Pointless.

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        ktfran May 5, 2015, 9:43 am

        Totally agree! Like my Baggu Tote!!!!!! It was a different color, but this is the style:

        It’s canvas, so that’s great. And can close.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra May 5, 2015, 5:20 pm

        I haaaaaate the “bride” or “bridesmaid” or whatever other crap that is bedazzled by rhinestones. I especially hate the sweatpants with “bride” on the butt. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE.

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        SpaceySteph May 5, 2015, 9:34 am

        Yeah I got jewelry that I was expected to wear day of. I’m allergic to most earrings and can only wear surgical steel posts (I still buy most of my earrings from Claire’s despite being an adult, their sensitive line is the best). This was definitely not surgical steel and after about an hour of wearing them my ears were like itchy/hurting and red/swollen.
        I took them out as soon as the ceremony was over, and one fell out of my purse and I never saw it again. Good riddance!

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  • Lyra

    Lyra May 5, 2015, 9:29 am

    Here’s how it worked out for me: my 3 bridesmaids paid for the dress (I also had a $25 off coupon) and shoes. My gift to them is paying for hair and jewelry — classic pearl bracelets and earrings that they helped pick out and will be able to wear again. I wanted us to have the time at the salon together, and I knew some of them couldn’t necessarily afford to pay for an updo. I asked if they wanted make up and they said they didn’t care for it, so I’m getting mine done but they aren’t. I would have paid for that too if they had wanted it.
    .
    I personally think the “bridesmaid gift” little trinket concept is unnecessary. A lot of times those types of things will get thrown out anyway, so why waste the money? In my opinion it is so much better to foot more of the bills for things like hair and makeup and jewelry. I’d much rather cut their costs down instead of just getting them something that is more than likely going to be thrown away.

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    • muchachaenlaventana

      muchachaenlaventana May 5, 2015, 9:32 am

      Yeah agree…I would rather have someone pay for the hair/makeup/dress than give me a piece of jewelry. A nice thank you note is really all I would hope for as a bridesmaid in the form of the gift…well that and the aforementioned things, lol.

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    • mylaray

      mylaray May 5, 2015, 10:23 am

      I agree about the gifts. I’m really not into monogrammed and customized gifts, which seem to be all the rage. I don’t need more stuff anyway and would rather have a thank you note like mucha.

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    • avatar

      _s_ May 5, 2015, 10:40 am

      Yes, this is what I did – my 3 bridesmaids paid for their own dresses and shoes (and hotel rooms, I guess, now that I think of it, since all came in from out of town for the actual wedding), and I paid for them to get their hair done (don’t remember if it was hair and makeup or just hair) and bought them matching jewelry (I did the same color/different dress thing, FWIW). Honestly I don’t think it even occurred to me to get them a “gift” beyond that. But then, I feel like I was a pretty low-key bride – I didn’t really expect anything of my bridesmaids other than to get a dress and show up for the rehearsal and wedding. I didn’t do a bachelorette party; my BM from my hometown and her mom threw a nice little shower at her mom’s house that was just maybe three of us girls, moms, and grandmas, and my two BMs from grad school threw me a nice little couples shower that was just maybe 4 or 5 couples at an inexpensive restaurant. The weekend of the wedding there was the rehearsal dinner one night, next day was salon trip then wedding. The end.

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    • othy

      othy May 5, 2015, 2:17 pm

      We got everyone in our wedding party flasks with funny sayings on them, along with a bottle of their favorite liquor (and a bottle of specialty soda for the friend who didn’t drink).

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray May 5, 2015, 10:17 am

    WWS. I hope I can survive wedding week. Not that this LW is bad or anything. It’s just that all the rules, the etiquette, the expectations, and the je ne sais quoi are exhausting.

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    • Ika

      Ika May 5, 2015, 11:06 am

      I completely agree. Of course.

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  • JenjaRose

    JenjaRose May 5, 2015, 10:18 am

    My oldest sister gave us pretty silver bracelets with our names engraved on them as bridesmaid gifts and bought us a skirt and top from JcPenney to wear as bridesmaid outfits. We didn’t get our hair “done” at a salon. My other older sister didn’t give anyone any gifts and none were ever expected, and I never even considered that she would pay for my dress. We paid for our own hair, and enjoyed a nice salon day together followed by lunch, of which we paid for everything. So I don’t know. I think people need to chill out about weddings, you know? I’ll never understand the excessive fuss and worry and money and pre-planning and strict rules of etiquette. Just sign the documents and have a fun party, you know? Bah, I dunno. 😛

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh May 5, 2015, 10:23 am

      I agree and I think this bride sounds very easy to get along with. But, being a bridesmaid can be expensive and it just doesn’t need to be. Not everyone can pay for a dress, hair, make-up etc. And because it involves money and some having more than others and some expecting others to just be able to spend it, it’s easy for there to be misunderstanding and expectations that can’t be met.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 5, 2015, 10:57 am

        I think the varied budget and being unable to afford the expense is especially true if someone has to pay for travel, especially air travel and then for a hotel room. Also, some people are at a point in their life where paying to be in a wedding cuts into their ability to do things that they want and need to do for their own life like save money for a down payment on a house or to be able to afford a vacation of their own choosing, not someone’s wedding as their vacation, or to afford a child. If someone had to relocate for their job and paid for a new wardrobe for that job they can be very tight on money and also have limited vacation days. I think it is rude to monopolize someone’s income and vacation days because it is your special day.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra May 5, 2015, 12:09 pm

      I totally get what you’re saying about people needing to chill about weddings. I agree because MANY people take every minute decision about their wedding waaaaaaaay too seriously. I will say, being on the other side and planning for a wedding, it’s insane with the sheer amount of decisions that are made. I’ve gotten to the point where my mom has been proofing invitation wording and wanted my approval on every little thing and my response was “I really don’t care so if you’re ok with it I’ll leave it up to you to make those decisions.” I’m the kind of girl who likes to have things figured out, things paid for in advance, appointments made in advance, and things checked off the list as soon as possible. So in that aspect, I understand where questions like this come up, because you want to plan ahead of time for it and you also don’t want any hurt feelings. Even if a bride is really laid back (which it sounds like this bride is), if she is the type of person who wants to plan things out in advance, these types of questions come up.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray May 5, 2015, 10:21 am

    WWS. It doesn’t sound like you’re requiring them to get hair and makeup done professionally, which is good. I did my own hair and makeup for my wedding and if someone told me I had to pay to get mine done for their wedding, I wouldn’t do it. I would look presentable, but I don’t really like having other people do it. Anyways, I think it’s nice you are paying for the dresses. I did that too and did mismatched dresses. I’m starting to think if the bride wants a very specific dress then she should pay for it, especially if it’s very expensive. Or a good rule of thumb for the bride is if you wouldn’t buy it yourself, don’t ask someone else to.

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  • avatar

    Ladybug May 5, 2015, 10:33 am

    WEES–if you aren’t requiring your bridesmaids to have their hair and makeup professionally done, then there’s no problem having them pay for their own if they opt to do so anyway. One of my friends did the same thing at her wedding, and when she updated us all on the logistics of the rehearsal and wedding day, she said basically said what Wendy suggested about the option to have hair and makeup done on our own dime. We all opted to do our own, and I honestly don’t think anyone gave it a second thought.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 5, 2015, 10:59 am

    If it is important to you for them to all get their hair and make up professionally done then you should pay for it. If you don’t care and you consider it optional on their part and fully their choice, not a pressured choice, then say exactly what Wendy suggested.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 May 5, 2015, 11:53 am

    Every time I’ve been a bridesmaid I’ve paid for my hair and done my own makeup. It never occurred to me to do it any other way. For one destination wedding I did my own hair because I was broke after the plane tickets and hotel and the bride was totally fine with it.

    As for gifts, I actually cherish the gift my bff gave me for being her maid of honor (and only bridesmaid). She bought me a lovely chocolate colored pearl necklace and earrings that matched my dress and that I still wear all the time now, five years later. For her wedding I bought my dress, paid for my hair, and took her out to lunch and margaritas on her wedding day for lunch (really low key bride, I love her.)

    For the destination wedding the bride got us gift cards to our favorite stores, fun kitchen towels (because we all liked to bake and cook) and a fun pie cookbook. Those were fun gifts.

    The only other wedding I’ve been in was the random necklace and earrings set that all the bridesmaids got and I’ve never worn since. Just not my taste.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite May 5, 2015, 12:23 pm

    For my gift, I did little silver clutches with a little kit inside of kleenex, lip balm, breath mints, and I think something else. They seemed to like it.

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  • Cleopatra_30

    Cleopatra_30 May 5, 2015, 2:28 pm

    I went to click on this article and I got re-directed to this page….

    thought you should know! This isn’t the first time lately that clicking on your articles has re-directed me :S

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeys mommy May 6, 2015, 11:10 am

    One suggestion for makeup might be to have them all go to a department store. I had my wedding makeup for myself and my party done at Macy’s at the Estée Lauder counter. Those guys will typically do the make up for free. They will even do a trial run a few days prior. Their goal is to make you look so good you will buy the products, but you aren’t obligated at all. That would save everyone money and hair would be the only expense.

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