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Wedding Wednesday – Who Owns The Bridesmaid Dresses?

I’ve come across an unusual situation, I am Bridesmaid to a long time friend of mine this year (and very happy to be one too!). She’s a wonderful friend and I’m so very very happy she’s getting married. She has asked us to pick our dresses from a selection of 3 (different styles of the same dress). These dresses are a little pricey and start at $500 dollars for the basic, the style I’ve chosen is an extra $150 but much more flattering. Bride is paying for the basic cost but has said we pay for the tailoring & the extra for a different style (around $250 total). I am happy to pay this as I actually really like my dress and would be able to wear it again, and not just to a wedding.

Here’s the catch! Bride has now said she intends to sell our dresses after the wedding, meaning we have to give them back so she can sell & keep the profit. I have clarified this with her and she fully intends to keep any money made (no reimbursement to us) and expects to get about $250 per dress. I’m a little gobsmacked, and really not sure I’m happy with this? Is this normal? Am I being a snowflake or is this an etiquette breach on her part?

For the record, at my wedding I bought all the dresses, paid tailoring and hair & makeup. I also paid for cottages for my bridal party (and partners) for the night of the wedding so they wouldn’t incur any hotel costs. Should I suck it up? Would it be wrong to offer to pay $200 for the dress, it feels like I’m throwing away the money I put in if it’s just sold. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Think of the situation as a business deal. The bride invested $500 into the base cost of the dress and you invested $150 plus the cost of tailoring in order to achieve the final product that meets with the bride’s approval. You and the bride are mutual partners/investors. If the bride sells the dresses, she’s not reaping a profit but rather being reimbursed for the cost of the dresses. However, she is not the sole owner of each dress. You own part of the dress you paid into. It is not fair for her to recoup part of her expenses while you are denied any part of that.

The bride should split the money earned …perhaps keeping 2/3rd and giving you 1/3 of the sale revenues. Or you offer the buy the dress from her.

{ 88 comments… add one }
  • AJ January 23, 2019, 2:39 am

    ” Or you offer the buy the dress from her. ”

    She’ll likely only charge you what she paid for it!

    • gramma dishes January 23, 2019, 4:49 pm

      Well, good grief, I would hope so!

  • Kitty January 23, 2019, 5:11 am

    Quite simply, if the bridesmaid is expected to pay for (majority of) the dress, it’s her. If the bride pays it, it gets more muddled, depending on mentioning if it’s part of the attendance gift or isn’t.

    Tell your friend that, what with the alterations to the dress, it would be incredibly difficult to make any profit out of it. Bridesmaids dressed tend to be altered in a way that they only fit the bridesmaid anymore; so selling it will be difficult. Most people would think buying this dress, and then having it re-altered to fit them would be more cost than getting their own, unaltered one.

  • lkb January 23, 2019, 5:35 am

    Personally, I like the idea of the OP and the other bridesmaids buying back the dresses, perhaps on an installment plan. (Be sure to get all the details in writing.)

    $500 for a bridesmaids dress?!? My big fluffy white wedding gown and veil only cost $300?!? And I think my bridesmaids wore dresses that cost just under $100. Granted, it was 30+ years ago, but I don’t think I could afford to be a bridesmaid today….

    • Josie James January 23, 2019, 9:56 am

      I thought the same thing – weddings are unnecessarily expensive these days; my dress and veil were approx. $350, bridesmaids dresses were about $100. That was 1989. Best deal was made by my sister who actually did wear the dress twice. Her friend was getting married 2 weeks after me and when I saw the bridesmaid dresses she picked, they were exactly what I wanted so I chose the same one.

    • lkb January 23, 2019, 2:26 pm

      In reading al the comments, I keep coming back to the thought that “Wow! the bride has offered to pay for each of her bridesmaids’ dresses, at $500 a pop! On top of all the other expenses…!”

      Not judging her – it’s her money. But I’m just floored that people have that kind of money to spend…

      …off to eat my bowl of gruel…

      • gramma dishes January 23, 2019, 4:52 pm

        Scooch over. Leave me space there on the floor there next to you.

    • Bea January 23, 2019, 8:00 pm

      These days you can’t even get a prom dress for $300, let alone a bridal gown. Unless you go to a department store perhaps 🙁

      • Rinme January 24, 2019, 3:05 am

        Ordering online from China + local alterations will provide you a perfectly nice wedding dress for $200-$300. Less if you’re lucky. That’s what I did.

        • Bea January 25, 2019, 4:33 pm

          That’s a huge risk to take. I’m glad it worked for you but I’ve heard absolute horror stories about getting anything from “nothing at all” to a total shambles of a dress that even alterations can’t fix.

          Sure everyone, you can get it used or a non-traditional gown for less. You can also have an auntie sew it for you as her “gift” but that’s not the go-to for most people who are trying to find their princess style organza extravaganza dress of their dreams.

          I am a frugal shopper and won’t be having a wedding, my marriage is about a contract and legalities, not a show to put on for people I don’t see let alone speak to very often. But the bridal industry is grotesquely over-priced however you slice it.

        • paddy January 28, 2019, 6:02 pm

          mine was a complete wreck. wrong color, wrong style, six sizes too big- I ended up having to get a new dress anyway. 🙁

      • Charliesmum January 24, 2019, 9:12 am

        I dunno. I got my dress in 2012 at David’s Bridal and it was around $200. 🙂

        • Annie_NH January 24, 2019, 9:30 am

          I paid $300 for mine with the veil. Of course, it was my mother’s gown, so I only paid for alterations. 🙂 (She paid $500 for her gown and $100 for the veil in the 1970s…I was surprised when she told me because she’s very frugal, but she said, “I wanted to splurge!” I’m glad she did, because the dress is GORGEOUS…I had always thought it was. I just had to alter the sleeves and the size.)

        • Rinme January 27, 2019, 4:37 am

          I live in a country where the wedding industry is SUPER inflated.

          The culture here is to bring money as your gift, normally around $100 per person. You can imagine that every vendor wants a piece of that action.

          A wedding dress rental can easily cost $2000 (and much more). Wedding dress alterations are crazy expensive.

          So that’s the context of my $200 dress being a good deal.

      • Meredithwiggle January 24, 2019, 12:10 pm

        I got married in 2011. I found the dress I wanted at David’s Bridal. New it was $500-600. But my mom found the same dress, in my size, on eBay for $100! It was in perfect condition and I didn’t have any problems with wearing a dress that had been worn once.

      • AS January 24, 2019, 12:49 pm

        Not sure, Bea. I purchased my wedding gown in 2012 from a small, family owned business. The total cost came to $330, with alterations. Granted, I opted to wear red instead of the traditional white, and hence was cheaper. But the dress was gorgeous, imported from Germany (tailored to my specifications), and they had an in-house tailor for alterations.
        But once you have the “wedding” tag on it, everything gets expensive!

        • AS January 24, 2019, 12:50 pm

          Adding to my comment, anyone wanting a white dress could have purchased the same one in white/off white color.

        • Kate January 24, 2019, 11:18 pm

          I also bought mine from a small business rather than one of the larger wedding vendors in my city. $250 and an extra $100 or so for alterations.

  • Shoegal January 23, 2019, 7:21 am

    The dress is very expensive. In my experience I have never heard of the bride buying the bridesmaid dresses. I thought it was very nice of her to help with that but the only thing she is giving you is a savings. You weren’t the recipient of a new dress from your friend the bride – you got to pay $250 for the privilege of wearing it – that’s it. Frankly, if she had picked a less expensive dress you still could have paid $250 but walked away with a nice dress. Now – you get nothing. For a friend I wouldn’t squabble over it – I’d give the dress back and let her get what she can for it. She can’t get what she paid for it. She isn’t making a profit and then I’d talk behind her back and then drop it. 🙂

    • rindlrad January 23, 2019, 3:53 pm

      The bride is “giving” the OP “savings” by “charging” her $250 for the “privilege of wearing” the dress? Save me from ever having this kind of friend that will do me this kind of favor.

      Look, I’m not one of the younger posters here. I was married in 1986. When I got married, brides didn’t expect their bridesmaids (AKA their friends) to purchase their dresses – the bride purchased them. So, from my perspective, this bride isn’t doing anyone any favors here. This is how I think it should be. IMO, it shouldn’t cost friends thousands of dollars, pounds, yen, or whatever your currency is, to participate in a wedding. Friends don’t let friends go bankrupt to buy a dress and shoes for their wedding.

      • jazzgirl205 January 23, 2019, 8:56 pm

        This is true. I paid for my bridesmaids’ dresses and the brides paid for the dresses when I was a bridesmaid. It is supposed to be an honor to be in a wedding party – not an expensive obligation. The Summer before my dd left for college, one of her friends got married. DD was so relieved she was not asked to be in the bridal party because she had college expenses.

      • Shoegal January 24, 2019, 8:18 am

        I paid for my dress in each of the weddings I’ve been in – let’s see that’s 6 weddings. Times have changed – like I said I never heard of the bride paying for the dresses especially since the dresses aren’t cheap. You usually only get one wearing out it too. The bridesmaid got a “savings” because the bride could have easily said – here is the dress I want you to wear and its $500.

        • rindlrad January 24, 2019, 8:33 pm

          And I would have said – thanks, I think I’ll take those “savings” and put them toward something more immediately important in my life. Food, rent, electricity, tuition, books, raising my children, etc.

          Seriously ladies, just because the woman in the big, white dress says “Jump!” You don’t have to ask “How high?” $500 for a bridesmaid dress is a huge hit to the budget for most of us. If the bride demands such an expensive dress, she can pay for it. All of it – alterations included. She can also have it back at the end of the reception, if she wants it. If she doesn’t want to pay for it, she can choose something more in line with her friends’ budgets. And saying “Times have changed” as an excuse for outrageous behavior is also unacceptable. Times have changed because women have allowed them to change – not for the better, IMO. It is, apparently, now completely ok for brides to spend their friends’ money freely without any thought to if they can afford it or what sacrifices the bridesmaids will have to make to make the bride’s “dreams come true.” And it isn’t only the dress. It’s the shoes, the hair, the nails, the makeup, the hotel room for the night before, the bachelorette party / weekend, the bridal shower(s), etc. Ask yourself – would you allow your friends to tell you how to spend your money in any other circumstance? My guess is NO. So, why do you allow it when it comes to weddings?

          Back in the day when my friends and I were doing the wedding thing, it was an honor and a pleasure to be asked to be in a friend’s wedding. There just wasn’t the pressure and expectation that it would cost you a ton of money you didn’t have. It makes me so sad to read on this site the many times posters have said that they were relieved not to be asked to be in a friend’s wedding because they just couldn’t afford it. You’re missing out on so many memories and all because “Times have changed” and it’s the bride’s right to force her friends to buy overpriced dresses in order to have the perfect wedding.

          • admin January 25, 2019, 1:46 am


          • Outdoor Girl January 25, 2019, 7:21 am

            I got married recently and didn’t want my friends to have to go through this! I bought each of them a shawl and told them to wear something out of their closet that matched the shawl and whatever shoes they wanted. I wasn’t concerned about them matching; I was using the shawl to pull them together. It kind of backfired because they talked to each other and all went out and bought dresses in the same colour. And ended up matching pretty well despite them buying them in different places. But hopefully, they all bought something they will wear again! The junior bridesmaids dresses were less than $100, taxes in. And my one friend got hers for $15! I don’t know what the other’s spent.

            The men were asked to wear white dress shirts, black pants and black footwear and we bought them ties to pull them together. All clothes they could wear again.

            The wedding party looked great, IMO, and it didn’t cost a fortune. My wedding dress and my husband’s suit cost less than what is being spent on the OP’s dress.

          • Shoegal January 25, 2019, 7:42 am

            My only point in saying “times have changed” is that it isn’t a normal thing anymore for a bride to pay for the bridesmaid dresses. I don’t like where weddings have gone either – the over the top route. Another bride would have never have chosen a $500 dress – you can certainly keep the costs down in that department. All of the expenses can be kept at a minimum. Right now it seems you can’t just have an evening out for a bachelorette party – it has to be a weekend in Vegas.

          • Bea January 25, 2019, 4:42 pm

            Preach! It’s not just the expensive bridesmaids dresses either, it’s the groomsmens tuxes as well. Thankfully it’s “cheaper” when you can rent a tux but I’m still annoyed that my partner was asked to be a best man, for someone that he truly doesn’t want to miss out on being the best man to because they’ve grown up together…and yeah, we’re expected to pick up the bill for the tux. Along with the costs of the boys night out. It’s one of those “well I cannot eat this month due to the expenses but sure, I will do it because I love you” setups and yes, I’m unamused by it all. Then they look at us funny when I say that I don’t want a wedding, I’m not going into further debt for any of that nonsense, not when I can sign a contract legally and be bound by God together forever at a picnic in the park or in our front room in front of the tv one night. Ick ick ick it’s so material and about the “show” you put on for people, not a fan.

          • rindlraf January 28, 2019, 12:47 pm

            Shoegal, I’m not trying to pick on you. I just would argue that saying that things are the way they are and there’s nothing to be done about it is not the way to move toward change and more healthy wedding culture.

            Brides have been taught that it’s “their day” and the purpose of the people in their lives is to provide whatever they want no matter the cost. This selfishness is destructive and, at the end of the day, only serves those in the wedding industry who profit from convincing brides that they have to have more and more elaborate weddings or everything will just be awful and tacky. It would be bad enough if brides were paying for all this unnecessary nonsense themselves, but they don’t. Because most average people can’t afford these extravaganzas, brides have been taught that it is perfectly ok to unload a portion of the wedding costs onto their friends. I won’t be surprised to read someday that a bridal couple has had the “fabulous” idea of splitting the catering costs between their attendants so the couple can go a one month honeymoon.

    • AJ January 23, 2019, 8:58 pm

      In some countries, the bridesmaids do not pay for the dresses. In the US it’s still put forward as an “honor” for the bridesmaids to be in the wedding party thus an “honor” to pay for ugly dresses that no one in their right mind would ever wear again.

      • Tanz January 24, 2019, 6:09 pm

        Yes, in my country the couple pays for the attendant’s attire; it’s considered horribly rude to ask someone to be in your wedding *and* pay for the dress you specify! And even if it wasn’t ‘rude’, asking someone to pay for a $50o dress has got to be considered cheeky at the very least (even if attendants paying for their clothing is the norm).
        In this case, I think as both you and the bride put into the dress, you should each get some of the reimbursement from it being sold, on a % basis.

  • DGS January 23, 2019, 7:48 am

    Typically, the bridesmaids pay for their own dresses, so it does get tricky here. She should give you some money back, as you are paying for a costlier option, so a third of the profit to you and two thirds to her. Or, you could offer to pay the entire cost of the dress and get to keep it. I wonder how she will be able to sell it at all given that the dress is being altered to fit a specific person…

  • Rinme January 23, 2019, 8:09 am

    I don’t see a problem here. You don’t need to stream all this money into an overpriced dress that you’re not going to wear again (lets be honest). Do the math – it’s a bad idea.

    Take the basic dress. Avoid alterations. Save your money.

    • PJ January 23, 2019, 2:34 pm

      I agree with this. I wouldn’t be spending $250 for a one-day outfit when I could spend $0 for a one-day outfit that is a bit less flattering.

      If the tailoring was already done before being informed that the dress wasn’t OP’s to keep, then she should be asking to share in the proceeds to be reimbursed for her share of the cost.

    • Tracy W January 23, 2019, 9:06 pm

      One of my bridesmaids did wear her dress again: she was a military officer who attended a bunch of formal events. (I paid for my bridesmaids dresses, and hair and they were dresses that went fine with black dressy shoes which I knew they already owned.)

  • Outdoor Girl January 23, 2019, 8:36 am

    Bride is delusional if she thinks she’ll be able to sell the dresses, especially for that much money. If the dresses hadn’t been upgraded and/or altered, I could maybe get on board with her plan since she paid for them. But with you having put in a significant sum as well? I think I’d offer her $200 to buy your dress and keep it, if you can afford to do that.

  • AMW January 23, 2019, 9:03 am

    I think the bride has too much confidence that the dresses will sell. Granted, they are a bit more expensive so perhaps there is more of a resale market, but from what I’ve seen from my local wedding resale group bridesmaid dresses almost never sell. As others have noted, I would make the point that the alterations may make it difficult to resell, and offer to potentially buy it if it doesn’t sell. Then hopefully you can get it for less than $250. This may be based on the resale market in my local area, but she probably shouldn’t count on making much money off of those dresses…

    • Leigh January 23, 2019, 10:19 am

      She could be thinking of selling them to a dress shop that does rentals. I was really weird and rented my wedding dress, and we found and my mom purchased my bridesmaids dresses for $21.00 at an outlet shop (they weren’t formal, just tea-length Easter-type dresses). The shop I rented my wedding dress from offered to buy my bridesmaid’s dresses for $20.00 each, so we were out of pocket on them $3.00 total. She may be thinking she can sell them to a shop that does alterations maybe, so she could still resell them, although probably not for what she put into them.
      I agree with admin; tell her that splitting the cost would be the best way to go since you’ll both have a significant monetary investment in the dress.

  • staceyizme January 23, 2019, 9:11 am

    No. Don’t negotiate with the bride about the dress. I’d simply “forget” to return it, because AFTER she required you to pay for customizing it AND pay for the upcharge, she informed you that she’d take the dress back. You’re not required to humor her thinking. Ifor her budget is tight and she needs to reciup, she should have been up front and paid for the whole dress, ( which would then have been titled her to keep it in dispose of it in any way that she wished). She is relying on your friendship and an excessive delicacy on your part to retrieve her perhaps excessive spending. No.

    • staceyizme January 23, 2019, 12:45 pm

      “if”/”recoup”/ “entitled”, sorry. Also- I suppose you could offer to let the bride “buy out” your share of the dress and take her chances on reselling it? That way, she has her dress, you have your investment returned and she can do as she pleases with it thereafter.
      I know the idea of “forgetting” to return something valuable is questionable, at best. But- what else does one do when the terms of a basic transaction change after you’ve expended your resources? Arguing the point seems unlikely to change the intention of someone who has no difficulty with spending your money while trying to recoup her own.

      • OP January 24, 2019, 8:40 am

        Pretending to ‘Forget’ isn’t an option for me, my conscience wouldn’t allow it.
        Also, it would be a little hipocritical as I have had to ask the bride for Jewelry & other things she’s borrowed, back over the years, once by turning up at her house & demanding back a pricey necklace she had ‘commandeered’ from my jewellery box.
        Our friendship has survived these because eventually I have had (mostly) everything back, but it would feel wrong to be the one ‘forgetting’.

        • Nissa January 26, 2019, 10:53 am

          Honestly, it sounds like you have a questionable friend here. She’s clearly taking advantage of your graciousness, whether that was her specific intention or no. It sounds like if you want to keep her as a friend, you’re going to have to set some clear boundaries. And why in the world would she be anywhere near your jewelry box? Does she go in your bedroom without you knowing it?

  • pennywit January 23, 2019, 9:20 am

    Is the dress a gift, or is it a short-term loan from the bride?

  • JD January 23, 2019, 9:22 am

    I think she’ll be lucky to sell them at any price, once they are altered and worn. Does the bride plan to dry clean them first, or is that yours to pay? What if something is spilled on them and stains them? I also think she’s being a wee bit tacky in that OP and the other bridesmaids HAVE to put money into it if it has to be tailored, which the dresses almost certainly will need, but she doesn’t plan to reimburse you for any of your expense, only her own.
    I wouldn’t pick out $500 dresses for my bridesmaids in the first place. When my kids got married, we paid for their bridesmaids’ dresses, let the BM’s pay for any alterations if needed, and then let them keep them. We are in the US, and sure aren’t close to wealthy, but then, we picked out very reasonable dresses, none of which were actual “bridesmaid” dresses. In fact, for one wedding, we found lovely simple silk dresses on clearance at Ann Taylor for only $50 each, and none needed altering. I think some bridal shops deliberately make sure that the dresses ordered will need some altering — at their shop, for a hefty fee, of course.
    OP, if it’s not too late, I’d say skip the dress you thought you wanted and go with the “basic”$500 version, not the upgrade. And unless it looks like it will create a wardrobe malfunction, I’d skip the alterations, too. Why pay to have it altered when it’s going to be sold out from under you? Or, as Admin suggests, get the dress you want and offer to buy it yourself, but I’d be careful there. Make sure you have the price firmly understood before going that route.

    • rings90 January 23, 2019, 10:10 pm

      I was wondering about the dry cleaning bills & what if something gets spilled on it also. Honestly most of the BM gowns I have worn have gotten beer/soda/wine spilled on them, or if were floor length torn/ had the bottom was trashed by the end of the evening.

      Resale value on them was pretty much Goodwill.

      • OP January 24, 2019, 8:36 am

        I am not paying dry cleaning or anything like that, I haven’t been asked to and will refuse if I am (I doubt she would ask). I will of course try and keep myself clean if any stains (as I would normally!).
        Hopefully it’ll all calm down and once she can’t sell them I’ll be allowed to keep it. It really is a nice dress.

        • rings90 January 24, 2019, 8:52 pm

          I am from WI, staying away from the drunks at weddings is its own sport. It’s not me spilling the drinks, it’s the drinking/parting guests/friends/family members/groomsmen/other bridesmaids that seem to spill their beer near me at every wedding… (And no it’s dumped over my head, it’s actually unintentionally done)

  • Abby January 23, 2019, 9:30 am

    I think the bride sounds pretty selfish, honestly. On the one hand, you’re out about $250, which isn’t remarkably different from buying a more reasonably priced dress that you’d never wear again (as is usually the case with bridesmaid dresses). On the other hand…

    It sounds like Bride realizes her chosen dresses are probably out of most of her party’s budget, so she’s subsidizing the costs to put it more in line with an average bridesmaid dress. So far, so good.

    However, I have a real problem with her then intending to recoup only her own costs (that are entirely of her own choosing). I mean, you may choose to wear a dress you paid $250 for again, but you probably don’t want it for $750, so not sure buying 100% is a reasonable option.

    I agree with the above poster, pick the most basic model, get no alterations, and then give her the dress back. Then you’ll have no money into it. If alterations are a must, I’d write off the cost as a bridal party expense and live with it, but the bride’s attitude would leave a sour taste for me.

  • Lynne January 23, 2019, 9:47 am

    Let her know that you were willing to put money into a dress that you thought you’d be able to wear in the future, but that it doesn’t make sense for you to do so for what hs become a one-day rental.

    • AJ January 23, 2019, 9:00 pm

      A rather expensive one-day rental at $250!

  • amydkw January 23, 2019, 9:47 am

    I agree with JD, if it is not too late go with the basic since you aren’t keeping it and do as little in alterations as you can get away with. To go into this thinking that you would own the dress and find out afterwards it isn’t yours is wrong. I know that when my sisters and I got married my mother bought the dresses for the bridesmaids and they altered them and was theirs to keep. Once you put money into the dress, it is no longer just hers and she has no right to “reclaim” it after the wedding with no thought to your input into the cost.

    • Nialla January 25, 2019, 1:42 am

      Yes, “informing” them she wants the dresses back to sell and keep the money is tacky as can be. I’d definitely get the basic and no alterations. If it hangs like a sack cloth, she can have that in her wedding photos for all eternity to remind her how cheap she was.

  • OP January 23, 2019, 10:15 am

    OP here.
    Just to clarify I have already paid for the “upgraded” dress and did so before I was told it would be sold by the bride. Regarding alterations, the dress is made out of rather pricey fabric, that due to my body shape bunches in all the wrong ways. With alteration it will look lovely, without I look like a hobbit wearing a Teal Bin Bag (not great!).
    Thanks for all your advice, I’m going to speak to her tonight about it as I’m taking her out for Dinner, and helping her with table planning. I will update with her response, fingers crossed it goes well!

    Thanks again!

    • Anonymous January 23, 2019, 9:14 pm

      Have you already paid for the alterations, though? If you’ve only paid for the “upgraded” dress, but not the alterations yet, then would you be able to skip the alterations, take the dress back for a refund give your friend $500 of the refund money (what she would have spent on the basic dress), and then find a similar but cheaper off-the-rack dress, also in teal, that you could wear to the wedding, not worry (too much) about ruining, and then keep afterwards? That way, your friend gets her money back, you get a dress that doesn’t make you look like a hobbit (I’m sure it doesn’t really, but I love your hilarious description of “a hobbit wearing a teal bin bag”), and everybody wins.

      • LizaJane January 23, 2019, 10:25 pm

        Are you saying she should go buy a dress off the rack and wear it as a bridesmaid?

        I don’t think the bride is going to go for it.

        • Anonymous January 24, 2019, 1:33 pm

          If the OP can find a less expensive teal dress that looks the same as the other bridesmaids’ dresses (which doesn’t seem that hard, because “basic dress =/- style upgrades” gives me the impression that they won’t all be identical, because different bridesmaids are going to pick different styles), then I think she should do that; obviously running it by the bride first. Then again, this is the kind of thing I’d probably back out of being a bridesmaid over, if I was in the OP’s shoes. She’s just paid $150 for the style upgrade on a bridesmaid’s dress, and alterations will be $100 more, and the bride waited until after she’d paid for the upgrade, to mention, “Oh, yeah, these dresses aren’t really yours; I’m taking them back after the wedding so that I can sell them.” Actually, I probably would have backed out (and offered to contribute some other way) even at hearing “$500 for the basic dress,” no matter who was paying for it. I don’t have $500 for a dress, and I’d be uncomfortable having any one of my friends spend that kind of money on me.

          • Anonymous January 24, 2019, 11:43 pm

            That should say “basic dress +/- style upgrades.” I forgot to hit Shift.

      • OP January 24, 2019, 8:33 am

        Returning the dress isn’t an option. And honestly I’d rather let her sell the dress than cause any drama. It’s not worth the friendship or aggravation and I would rather pay the tailoring and look good than not and feel uncomfortable all day. Thanks!

    • AM January 23, 2019, 10:37 pm

      Good luck, and please do keep us posted.

      Your friend is definitely wrong, and I hope she realizes it before she alienates her nearest and dearest. I stopped being friends with a woman I was a bridesmaid for a few years ago; she drove another mutual friend to tears (and eventually to dropping out of the wedding party) with her Bridezilla shenanigans. I gritted my teeth and stuck it out, but our friendship didn’t survive.

    • Rinme January 24, 2019, 4:24 am

      Could you return it and get the cheaper version? Then take it to a cheaper tailor, as $100 for alterations is a bit too much.

      Can you afford to part with the money? If you don’t care about the money and it’s just an etiquette issue, it’s one thing… if this puts you (deeper?) in debt, it’s a different deal.

      • OP January 24, 2019, 8:30 am

        There are no returns once paid for. I’m stuck either way now.

  • Pat January 23, 2019, 11:01 am

    Did bride tell you her plans after you ordered the dress? If so, I think she should have made her intentions clear before ordering; it was bad judgment on her part. However, since bride is a good friend, I guess I would let this go. Everyone makes mistakes. If not, I would order the basic dress and not have it altered.

  • mark132 January 23, 2019, 11:36 am

    The vast majority of bridesmaid dresses I’ve seen are so single use. I question how big a resale market there really is.

    • ladyv21454 January 23, 2019, 3:35 pm

      Agreed! I’ve been in a number of wedding parties and the only one that had a dress that I could wear again was my cousin’s wedding. His bride-to-be chose a very simple full-length gown that could easily be shortened to cocktail length – and it was in a soft peach color that flattered everyone. I wore that dress in short form for YEARS.

  • Anonymous January 23, 2019, 12:50 pm

    If I was in the OP’s shoes, I don’t think I’d even want to be a bridesmaid. Why? Because, even if I took the basic dress, without alterations, and didn’t spend any money on it, I’d know that the bride wanted it back after the wedding, so she could sell it…..which would mean that I’d be afraid of ruining it. A wedding ceremony and reception lasts for several hours, so I’d be worried about sweat and/or deodorant stains, mud and slush in the parking lot at the ceremony and reception venues, possibly getting sprayed by a car (winter in Canada can be hard on clothes), spilling something on it at the reception, accidentally ripping the dress while dancing, or even getting it caught on something. I’d be so worried about keeping the dress perfect, that I’d probably back out of being a bridesmaid altogether, and maybe ask to do something else, like sing, read a poem, usher, or be in charge of the guestbook, or anything that doesn’t require me to keep a delicate, expensive, borrowed item of clothing in perfect condition, during a full day of festivities where accidents could happen.

    • Rinme January 24, 2019, 4:27 am

      You worry too much. Nobody’s expecting the dress to stay perfect. It will be sold as a second-hand dress, for a fraction of the original cost.

  • lakey January 23, 2019, 2:59 pm

    The sad thing about weddings is that people get so wrapped up in having a perfect “show” that they lose sight of what is important, loving relationships. It may be that the bride is spending more on this wedding than she can really afford, and so wants to recoup some of the money. There’s just something “off” about telling your bridesmaids that you want the dresses back so you can sell them. If $500 per dress was a problem, she should have selected something less expensive, or have the bridesmaids help with the selection and pay for the dresses themselves. In most weddings where I was a bridesmaid, we all went together to pick a dress, and we paid for our own dress. That way you had input to keep the price in line with what you could afford. I was only in one wedding where the bride preselected the dress. It was awful, butt bow, cheesy fabric, and scalloped hem. Oh, and pink.But it wasn’t very expensive, so I put a smile on my face and wore it. I can see where OP is bothered by this, but if the bride is normally a good friend, I would probably let it go.

  • Annie_NH January 23, 2019, 3:17 pm

    “Avoid alterations”? That likely involves a lot of luck….being the perfect height and fitting your dress perfectly for waist, bust, shoulder, etc., etc.. I have never met someone who didn’t need at least minor alterations on a bridesmaid dress. I’m not saying that there are NOT people who can avoid alterations, but I think they are few and far between.

    I am very short, so even the “petite” sizes require alterations unless I want to either be tripping over a long dress or have a short dress reach mid-shin.

  • Catherine St Clair January 23, 2019, 3:32 pm

    I would not get into this pickle. You will feel you have been taken advantage of by having to pay to upgrade and alter an expensive dress and let someone else reap the rewards without acknowledging that you, too, paid money for a dress you will be able to wear only once. She will be offended if you demand at least part of your money back. I would take the basic dress, make no alterations, and let her sell it, keeping 100% of the money since it is her property and you have no claim to anything. I don’t make business deals with friends and this sounds very much like a form of a business deal.

  • Girlie January 23, 2019, 4:42 pm

    I kind of have a problem with the bride’s plans.

    If she has the intention of making money off of these dresses, then she shouldn’t have allowed her bridesmaids to invest in them – especially when the cost of an upgrade and alterations is the equivalent of what many bridesmaids might be expected to pay for their dresses normally.

    As for the idea that bridesmaids never wear their dresses again – they can, and they will, if the brides are thoughtful about it. I gave my bridesmaids a fabric (chiffon), a length (tea or knee), and a color (black). They each chose and bought their own dresses, which suited their different body sizes, shapes, and their personalities, and which ranged from $60 up to $150. Each bridesmaid wore her dress multiple times after my wedding, so it CAN be done.

  • Lanes January 23, 2019, 6:25 pm

    Yeowzers, $500 for a “basic” dress? My beautiful wedding dress cost less than twice that.

    I am ashamed to say that I asked my bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses. But in my small and feeble defense, they were simple black evening gowns and only cost about $75.

    I think calling this a business deal is the fairest here. You own 1/3 of the cost of the dress. So, you’re entitled to 1/3 of the profits.

    • mark132 January 24, 2019, 11:23 am

      I doubt I spent $500 on clothes for myself all of last year.

  • abf January 23, 2019, 7:02 pm

    Here’s an idea . . . charge the bride a “Live Mannequin” or “Modeling” fee of $250 for wearing the dress on the day of the wedding.

  • kingsrings January 24, 2019, 1:39 am

    I always wondered who bought the bridesmaids dresses – the bridesmaid, or the bride. Since I’ve never been one I didn’t know. And I still don’t know the correct answer to this.
    OP, your friend shouldn’t be reaping the whole sale of the dress. She needs to pay you back your part of it. That’s not right to keep it all.

  • OP January 24, 2019, 4:25 am

    Hello again,

    Just to clarify. The dresses have been ordered and there’s a ‘no refund policy’, so I’m locked in. I also paid for the tailoring in advance (I chose this before knowing the dress would be sold) as they offered a discount $25 dollars off.

    This is where it gets awkward.

    I met up with bride and bought us dinner, we had a lovely meal in a very nice setting. That’s where the niceties ended. Bride seems overwhelmed, out of her depth and caught up in her Mother’s & Sisters idea of what a wedding should be. The phrase ‘It’s not my favourite, but My Mother’s says…’ came up more times than I could count.
    It turns out the Dresses were picked by her sister, Brides own favourites (very pretty but much more reasonably priced) were shot down and criticised. It’s also her sister & Mother who’re insisting they be sold (except for Sisters) to recoup costs. It turns out they also wanted us to only have alterations that could be ‘unpicked’ to make them easier to resell.
    This was just one issue Bride is having, and definitely not the worst. I offered to buy my dress for the price she was hoping to sell it at ($200) and she was thankful & embarassed, but said she didn’t know If it was ‘allowed’.
    I’ve decided that no matter what happens to my dress I’m just going to be there to help my friend through this. And honestly, just be there to support her if she needs help getting her wishes across or let her vent if she needs to.

    Thanks for your advice again, I’m guessing I’ll probably have some updates if MOB & Sister bear Ive offered to buy my dress. Though I hope not!

    • BellyJean January 24, 2019, 9:06 am

      Thank you so much for the update. That really sucks for your friend (the Bride). Wow – Mom and Sister need to get the *beep* over themselves.
      I’m very happy that you’re going to be there for her – good on you.

    • staceyizme January 24, 2019, 1:54 pm

      Oh, Dear! Poor bridesmaids, at the mercy of a hen-picked bride! I can find some sympathy for the bride, too, but only a little! It sounds like you’ll all get through it the best that you can and move on. Hopefully your friend will THEN feel free to stand up for herself with her family. It’s short sighted on their part to make things difficult for her. It seems unlikely to endear them to her or to make her want to include them much in her life after the wedding. Best wishes to all the bridesmaids and the bride, in any case.

    • Catherine St Clair January 24, 2019, 8:22 pm

      My guess is that Mom and Sis will continue to try to rule her and her husband. They will want to both choose and decorate her house, choose her baby’s names, and tell her how to clean, cook, shop, and criticize her constantly. She is going to need you. What she will also need is to learn to stand up to those two before they wreck both her marriage and her life. I still remember the explosion that occurred when I informed my mother that she was not going to choose my college, my major, my future career, and whether or not I would marry. She’ll have to learn to hang on-it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

      • Rinme January 27, 2019, 4:53 am

        You’re definitely not wrong!

        I had a wedding situation with my MIL, who was intent on having our wedding her way.

        Later, wanted control over our living arrangements, wanted to pick out our furniture and repeatedly tried to meddle with my child’s name.

        None of it went her way because I learned my lesson from the wedding!

    • Lynne January 24, 2019, 8:57 pm

      You are an amazing friend. Good on you for being supportive.

    • LaedyRose January 24, 2019, 11:35 pm

      You are a good friend. I would not want to be in the bride’s position. Yikes! Even though my Mom and Dad pretty much paid for my wedding, they respected my husband’s and my wishes and visions for our (relatively low budget) wedding.

    • Kitty January 25, 2019, 2:49 pm

      And this is why you should never, ever, ever feel forced to take in the consideration of letting other people’s opinion determine your wedding. I can understand MOB or similar having ‘a say’ in things if they are paying for majority of it, but that’s also why I think people should pay for their own weddings.

      If the bride is so overwhelmed, cancel everything, and just elope to a justice of peace. I’m hoping the whole ‘getting married to my beloved’ is still the main focus of her wedding for her, and that’s all that should matter. Maybe, eventually, throw a houseparty or something to celebrate with friends and family the wedding post-occurence.

      • Anonymous January 25, 2019, 7:01 pm

        I think the reason why situations like this get started, is because some people think of weddings not as “getting married to my beloved,” but rather, “joining two families.” That’s a beautiful thought, in theory, but then, when Wilhelmina Whatsit and Barnaby Blahblah finally decide to tie the knot, and sit down and hammer out logistics, they might discover that, many members of the Whatsit family are Jewish, but a large and vocal group of Blahblahs have their hearts set on ham for dinner…..and the Whatsits want an outdoor wedding on the beach, but Great-Uncle Bilbo Blahblah is in a wheelchair, and can’t easily navigate sand…..and so on, and so forth, until the poor bride and groom have made so many concessions on things that they care about, that the final wedding plan looks nothing like what either of them originally wanted. They’ve also tried to placate so many family members’ conflicting feelings on things that they (bride and groom) DON’T really care about, that they’re fed up with the whole thing, and annoyed with each others’ families over the stupidest little details, like flower arrangements, and appetizers for the reception, that nobody’s really going to remember after the wedding.

        How I Met Your Mother did an episode about this; at the end of the first season, when Marshall and Lily got married. In the end, they did a small, intimate wedding, which was what Marshall and Lily wanted, followed by the “real” wedding, for the benefit of their families, which was indoors in a reception hall. Of course, a ton of things went wrong, as things do in sitcoms, but by then, Marshall and Lily didn’t care, because the small outdoor wedding was the “real” wedding to them. I don’t know how well this would work in real life, but it sounds tempting. I can see taking that approach not just to weddings, but to big family celebrations like Christmas as well.

    • Rinme January 27, 2019, 4:56 am

      Oh. That leaves me feeling sorry for the bride.

      She’s lucky to have a friend like you for support.

  • Coraline January 24, 2019, 5:20 pm

    OP, you pay the additional cost + the cost of the tailoring and at the end of the day probably (unless you are “allowed” to buy your dress for an additional $200!) don’t even have a dress to show for it?

    Good lord!

    I think that I would put my foot down and say that if they want the dress back they need to “buy you out” and reimburse you for your portion of the dress-related expenses first.

    Though honestly at this point if I were you I would be bowing out of participating in the wedding entirely. The whole thing sounds like trouble.

    • Redblues February 10, 2019, 11:39 pm

      This is exactly what I would do. Pay me back for the alterations before I return the dress, or else I would keep the dress. And I would not bend over backwards to be careful with it when I wore it either. Let Mommy Dearest cough up her own money for “her” dresses.

  • Leslie Webber January 25, 2019, 6:25 am

    Could you ask her to donate the dress afterwards to one of these organizations that collects dresses for girls who can’t afford to buy one for their prom? Then maybe you could write it off your taxes and not lose entirely.

  • ALM January 27, 2019, 10:14 pm

    A person who expects you to pay $150 for a dress you don’t get to keep is not your friend, no matter how much the dress cost originally.

  • Jax January 28, 2019, 7:27 am

    IMO if the bride wanted you to wear a specific dress, regardless of the different styles it should be her purchase abs hers to resell if she wants. If she expects you to pay into the dress it should be part yours and therefore part of the profit should come to you.
    If you pay for all of the dress it’s yours 100percent and she shouldn’t have any claim.

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