bridesmaids with flower crowns and groomsmen in grey suits look at bride and groom entering San Miguel chapel

What Your Wedding Party Members Should Pay For


April 18, 2024
Words by Meghan Ely
Photos courtesy of various

A role in the wedding party is considered an honor, but couples must remain mindful that the invitation entails a financial commitment. From pre-wedding activities to day-of attire, the costs can add up to a significant price tag — and that’s for a typical at-home celebration. With destination weddings, wedding party members must also account for travel, accommodations, and other onsite expenses like meals, excursions, and fees.

bride and groom stand at altar surrounded by bridesmaids in fall colors and groomsmen in black tuxes at Rancho los RetoñosPhoto by of Eve Rox Photography

While you want your loved ones at your side, you probably don’t want (or expect) them to spend a small fortune on your big day. Setting realistic expectations for their participation can help them balance their budgets with wedding responsibilities.

But before getting into the excitement of planning, Keith Willard of Keith Willard Events warns couples to tamper their expectations of who can attend a destination event. “Fewer people will be able to make it,” he explains. “Time, distance, and costs are all going to be increased. Couples should not expect that everyone will be able to attend.”

For those who can attend and participate, it’s essential to discuss financial commitments from the start. Expecting people to pay for surprise expenses or last-minute costs can create tension at a time that doesn’t need added stress!

If you’re wondering what your wedding party members should plan to cover, keep reading for insight from the experts.

wedding party in blue and black pose in front of Aspen mountain range in summerPhoto by Tracy Autem Photography

Travel + Accommodations

Destination weddings involve travel expenses for everyone, such as airfare, ground transportation, hotel rooms, and resort fees. As with all guests, wedding party members typically pay for their own travel costs — as if they were treating the trip like a personal vacation (which many do!).

“Wedding parties will usually always be expected to handle their airfare to and from the wedding destination,” confirms Kate Hickey of Sunshower Weddings. However, she notes that accommodations can vary. “Sometimes the couple will cover it, and sometimes the wedding party will cover their own.”

Couples should plan to secure a room block at the hotel to help guests’ budget by providing discounted room rates. Alternatively, Hickey says that, in the case of a rental home or villa, “usually the couple will cover that cost entirely, and the wedding party will be invited to stay with them in the home for free.”

travel themed wedding invitations with a mock airplane ticketPhoto by Two Adventurous Souls

Sharing accommodations at various prices is another way to help wedding guests keep costs as low as possible. “That way, everyone has an option to be open for spending,” says Jen Sulak of Weirdo Weddings. “If you lock in only one location, it might be out of the reach of the people who can come join you.”

Samantha Leenheer of House of Joy agrees, noting that “not every member of your wedding party will be able to afford 3-night minimums and some luxury resorts.” If possible, “being open to offsetting their hotel costs can be a kind gesture to making it easier for them to be part of your wedding,” she adds.

Traveling has become more expensive in recent years, with further destinations racking up a higher cost. If you foresee budget constraints for your wedding party members, consider seeking a destination experience closer to home. For instance, a stateside celebration may allow guests to travel by car or save with domestic airfare instead of planning an international sojourn.


Guided tours, pub crawls, catamaran cruises — exploring the area and taking in the culture is one of the biggest perks of a destination wedding! But excursions come with a cost, so it’s nice to show consideration for your wedding party by loosening expectations for participation.

If you add outside activities to the itinerary, wedding photographer Colton Simmons cautions against requiring your wedding party to attend. “Your closest friends and family are already reserving time away from working and paying to travel on your special day, so don’t make these events mandatory and put an additional burden on them,” he says.

bridesmaids cheer with bride in mustard dresses while holding pink bouquets by Lake ComoPhoto by Francesco Bognin

Alternatively, “if you want them to attend, pay for one of them and thank them for their efforts in helping you put together this dream destination wedding,” he adds.

Between a rehearsal dinner, welcome party (if you’re hosting one), and wedding reception, you will have plenty of time to celebrate with your besties. There’s no need to obligate them to an extra expense if they’d prefer to keep it low-cost!

Beauty + Attire

For many at-home celebrations, wedding party members are expected to purchase their attire and cover at least part of their hair and makeup for the big day. But when asking your loved ones to factor in travel expenses, Hickey recommends taking these extra costs off their plate to support their budgets.

“Couples should always plan to cover hair and makeup for their wedding party for a destination wedding and should also consider subsidizing the attire for their wedding party or just completely paying for it,” Hickey asserts.

bride in strapless gown laughing with bridesmaids in silk and chiffon salmon dressesPhoto by Cassie Lee Photography

To simplify the process, hire a team of beauticians at the destination so you can pay for everyone’s styling together. For attire, consider setting a cap to provide financial help to your wedding party without breaking your wedding budget. 

A destination wedding can be a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone! But remember that your wedding party members must mind their finances, so be flexible and understanding with their ability to attend and participate. On top of that, try to offer a helping hand whenever possible!

About the Author: Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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