Being a bridesmaid is pay-to-play, and paying for a bridesmaid’s dress is the number one expense. The outfit is covered by the bridesmaids themselves, even if the bride requests a general style of shoe, such as a color scheme or wedge. But if the Bride wants her ‘maids to all wear the same shoes and accessories, generally the bride should cover those costs. Brides who might be more budget conscious should look into renting bridesmaids’ dresses, or consider the mixing-and-matching trend, which allows each woman to spend what she’s comfortable with.
The hosts should cover the cost of the shower. If the wedding party is hosting, they should divide the cost amongst themselves. If a family member of the bride, such as aunt or grandmother, offers to throw the bridal shower, she will be taking on the costs—but bridesmaids can offer to contribute somehow, whether that is with finances or by helping to set up. By the way, bridesmaids are expected to bring gifts to the bridal shower, separate from gifts purchased for the wedding.
Bridesmaids still need to buy gifts for both the bridal shower and the wedding. Consider your overall gift budget, then allocate most of it for the wedding gift, using the funds leftover for the bridal shower gift. If bridesmaids are on a tighter budget, they can also join forces to get the couple one nicer gift from the group.