If you’re a Filipino in America, who pays for the bridesmaid dresses?

One of the major things that my fiancé and I have in common is cultural heritage. We come from a land of 7,107 islands, eating rice three meals a day, large religious families and a tradition of buying everyone dinner (“blow out”) on your own birthday. And as a result, our wedding plans include a lot of Filipino details – from the cord and veil at the ceremony to the capiz shell candle holders at the reception.

We disagree, however, on some other Filipino traditions, including who pays for the bridal party’s attire.

Of my experiences as a bridesmaid, two were for weddings of friends raised in the Philippines, and following with tradition and cultural expectation, they gifted me the dress. I wanted to do the same for my bridesmaids. Let’s be honest, regardless of how “nice” the dress is, they will likely only wear it this one time.

Even more, a few of my bridesmaids are from the Philippines as well and have never been subjected to paying for their own dress. And while I don’t think the request would break our friendship, as a Filipina, I would feel a certain shame in even asking. However, it seems unfair (to the point of discrimination) to ask some bridesmaids to pay for their dresses while others receive them as gifts. Hence, bridesmaid dresses gets added as a line item to the overall wedding budget. Sorry, friends, no Pinterest-worthy bridesmaid proposal boxes from me, just the practical stuff.

bridesmaid dress

Knowing that I was paying for the bridesmaid dresses gave me an excuse to look for styles beyond the traditional. Typical bridesmaid dress cost between $150-250 before alterations. Working on a tight budget, there was no way I could shop at the traditional stores. Instead, I found a simple style in the exact color I wanted at Banana Republic– and purchased all six dresses for less than $300 during a Black Friday sale.

My fiancé, on the other hand, has lived in the U.S. longer than I have and is quite comfortable in asking his groomsmen to buy their own suits. After all, his groomsmen were raised in the U.S. and this division of who pays for what is normal for them. My fiancé, of course, is searching for very affordable suits so as not to burden his friends too much. (And luckily, my bridesmaids and his groomsmen aren’t good friends with one another so this issue likely won’t come up with either group.)

Have you been in someone’s bridal party and had to pay for your own attire? How did you cover the costs for your bridal party at your wedding? 



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