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Beginner May 2023 Tyne & Wear

Bridesmaids... Head vs heart

Holly, 3 of August of 2022 at 17:24 Posted on Etiquette and Advice 0 8
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Hi Everyone! I'm probably jumping the gun a bit considering we don't have a date yet, but we're hoping to get married in spring/summer 2023, so time is limited!


I have 1 sister and 6 close friends who are a big part of not only my life, but my FH as well. My FH also has an older sister. I was her bridesmaid a couple of years ago, and she paid for everything except for shoes (including a bridesmaid box full of bits and pieces).
In an ideal world, I'd have all 8 of the lovely ladies as my bridesmaids, but with flowers, dresses, shoes, make up, hair, gifts, and everything else associated with bridesmaids, it would definitely go over budget. I also can't choose between and friends, and I wouldn't want to. Likewise, although I was her bridesmaid, I wouldn't want to have my FH's sister in place of any of my friends.
So! What would you do? My head says to just have my sister as a bridesmaid and then suggest my friends and FH's sister are 'usherettes'? If I did that, would it be rude to ask people to pay for their own dress, and do their own hair and make up. Then I'd just get flowers for each of them to show their still part of the wedding party and a gift/jewellery to say thank you? Do you think FH's sister would take offense at not being a bridesmaid?
Heart wants them to have the best day possible and go all out, even if it means making some cuts elsewhere or pushing the budget up (although FH may take some convincing!)
All opinions/advice/suggestions welcome because I've gone back and forth on this for weeks now and I just can't decide!

8 replies

Latest activity by Michelle, 5 of August of 2022 at 13:32
  • R
    Super July 2020 Monmouthshire
    RomanticGreenStationery27135 Online ·
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    You could ask them to be bridesmaids but wear whatever they want. Or ask them to wear something within general guidelines (e.g. 'any floor length pastel dress' or 'any dress in sage green or blush pink') Usually, if bridesmaids are allowed to pick their own dress, then they pay for it.

    Alternatively, you can buy them all the same dress but leave them to sort their hair, makeup and shoes.

    Do you know if they all want to be bridesmaids? You may find some would prefer not to be. You could look at involving them in other ways, such as being ushers, doing readings.

    There's no right or wrong solution, just whatever works for you. Just make sure that you are clear with them about expectations, so they know from the start what they are expected to pay for.

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  • Kirsty
    Savvy June 2023 Essex
    Kirsty ·
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    I think you should chat through with them about their expectations. For example when I asked my friends to be bridesmaids they offered to pay for their dresses. In the end we decided to pay 50% of their dresses and I'm paying for the hair and make-up to be done and they will wear their own shoes. Its just important you have these conversations at the start, so everyone knows what the plan is.

    You could say to them that you want them all as Bridesmaids but you are concerned about the cost and see who is willing to part pay for themselves, or if they would do their own hair etc....Just be open and upfront about it, I am sure they will understand and will want to help find a solution.

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  • Chloe
    Expert July 2023 Cornwall
    Chloe ·
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    I wouldn't do usherette's if you're planning on having some as bridesmaids - it'll show a really obvious divide.

    In terms of FH's sister, if you don't feel closer to her than anyone else on your list, she shouldn't be a bridesmaid. Don't feel obliged out of obligation. If FH wants to include her, he can make her a groomswoman or something! My FSIL isn't a bridesmaid, but I'm getting her and the mum's a corsage to match the bouquet's so they stand out as important, and we've asked FSIL to do a reading so that could be an option for you too.

    It is quite unusual in the UK to ask bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses, however it's not at all unusual for the bride not to cover hair and make up. I'm planning on allocating £150 per bridesmaid, ideally, we find cheaper dresses than this and I can additionally offer to cover hair. However, if the whole budget goes on a dress they love then I'd rather they love it. I'd then say to them that if they'd like to get hair and or make up done it's £X but no obligation if they'd rather do their own. Remember you can choose the budget for bridesmaids, it might be that you say "I've allocated £70 each for you dresses, let's go shopping together" and if they all fall in love with something that's £100 then they each contribute £30 or keep shopping for something in budget.

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  • Michelle
    VIP July 2023 Cheshire
    Michelle ·
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    I agree with Chloe on this one x💗
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  • H
    Beginner May 2023 Tyne & Wear
    Holly ·
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    Thanks Everyone! It's been great reading some different options because I think the FH is sick of me catastrophising over it when his groomsmen/ushers have been so easy.

    From past discussions and things, I get the feeling they'd all want to be bridesmaids but I'm definitely open to them deciding to opt out. As long as they're there, I don't really mind whether it's as a bridesmaid or not. I know FSIL has outright asked to be one so I'd feel really awkward if I left her out.

    I was trying to budget by looking at how much everything is and adding it up, but I might take the approach Chloe mentioned and set a budget per person instead. I know some of them wouldn't feel comfortable in a full face of make up and others are happy doing their own hair, so a budget per person might work really well. That way I guess they can pick and choose what they want to spend it on or chip in if they want the full works!
    I was planning on letting them choose their own dress as long as they're all the same colour and floor length. I'm thinking black as we're doing a black tie garden wedding and it'll be easier to colour match, but has anyone had any experience of colour matching for other colours? They're all totally different body shapes so I was going to avoid choosing one style dress.
    Thanks again everyone 😊
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  • Michelle
    VIP July 2023 Cheshire
    Michelle ·
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    Hi hun i think this is the best option also with them being different sizes you would be best going to your local clothes shops and see what they have this will work better for the different sizes x💗 also black us a really good colour x
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  • H
    Beginner May 2023 Tyne & Wear
    Holly ·
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    Thanks Michelle! I don't think FH quite realises how easy he's got it 😂 they're all going to be in hired tuxedos with personalised bowties, so he doesn't quite get the potential minefield of choosing a dress and everything else for 8 different bridesmaids, all with completely different shapes, heights and tastes.
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  • Michelle
    VIP July 2023 Cheshire
    Michelle ·
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    They dont think about this men can hide all their lumps and bumps we cant in dresses but think high street shops would help with the sizes its hard when you want them all x💗
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