I frequently field questions from our AskMartha mailbox (Got a q? Send it to me at: askMartha@marthastewartweddings.com). Here's a recent one I thought you'd be interested in. It's from the mother of a flower girl:
The bride favors a $200 dress, but my budget is $100, max. I can’t find it anywhere for less. Must I pay the full $200? Or can I offer the bride the $100 and ask her to pay rest?
Since attendants are supposed to buy their own clothes, brides should pick things they can afford. But what if the bride doesn't choose something within the bridal party's budget? The attendants can’t say, “If you want us to wear it, you buy it” (it’s VERY bad form to tell someone what to do with their money), but what's the alternative?
What this mom should say is, “I’m sorry -- little Kristen can’t participate after all; it’s more expensive than I had thought. No hard feelings.” (Same tactic goes for broke bridesmaids and tux-renting groomsmen.)
Now the ball’s in the bride’s court: She can accept the refusal, take the hint and offer to pay the difference, or pick a different dress.
Hopefully the bride doesn't go with option number one -- accepting the refusal. It would send the message that Kristen’s clothing is more important than her inclusion in the wedding. If the bride can’t afford the dress either, picking a less expensive dress is the best option. Maybe the mom can even suggest an alternative within her price range.
How are you negotiating the expenses of your attendants' attire?