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The Bride's Guide Blog

Etiquette: When the Flower Girl Can't Afford the Dress

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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?

Comments (4)

  • I'm keeping an open dialogue with my attendants. I have constantly asked for input on decisions and am keeping them included - I am a broke bride, so I empathize with being a broke attendant! For my bridesmaids, I selected a color from David's Bridal (I have an out of town maid, and this made it easier to coordinate dresses, being a chain store) and am letting my girls pick any dress in that color. That way they have a variety of prices and styles to choose from. The guys are wearing gray slacks and a white dress shirt (which most of them already own) with ties that match the girls' dresses.

  • When choosing out the bridal party attire, budget was a huge factor. I guess I just don't seem to understand how people pay for these expensive dresses! Originally I had said "any black dress" but after a quick shopping trip in the states, I found 50$ dresses on sale, half price! My maid of honour was with me... tried it on and voila! I sent a picture home to the girls, and it was unanimous! I ended up using a coupon and getting each dress for under 12$. And basically said "my treat" with a little giggle to the girls.

    They will look STUNNING on the big day...

  • I disagree with your advice.

    You wrote, "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.” ... 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."

    Saying that the child can't participate isn't a subtle statement or a hint. It's a definite answer with no room for negotiation.

    If the couple wants the child to play the role of flower girl, and the child wants to play that role, there's no reason for the parents to let the couple know that they have a spending budget and that the $200 falls beyond that.

    Better advice would have been to go to the bride/groom and negotiate either a less expensive dress (compromise on a different but similar dress) or if the bride/groom are set in the dress style, they should be willing to chip in on the extra expense.

  • [...] thoughts?  Discuss budgets with people first, then decide on the type of dress for your flower girl (or bridesmaids or [...]

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