When it comes to your wedding day one of the large factors at play is your desire to share your love with family and friends. As a result of this, you might have gathered a small group of your closest friends and asked them to be a part of your wedding day. The real questions, however, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of details, is who is going to pay for the wedding party? There are two arguments here; 1/ You've asked these people to do you a favour, to help you plan an enormous and expensive event where they will play a background character regardless of how much time they dedicate, therefore you should pay. Or 2/ They don't have to say yes to playing a role in the wedding, they could simply attend as a guest, by agreeing to join the wedding party they agree to accrue some costs for important details pertaining to them, therefore they should pay.
You Should Pay
If you want to be really traditional then the bride and groom would be expected to cover all of the costs for the bridal party, this includes clothes, hair and makeup (as relevant), accommodation, transportation and a gift of thanks. These costs can add up pretty quickly depending on the location of the wedding, style of wedding and the size of the wedding party, so you have to be reasonable when allocating budget around this.
Paying for everything is a great way to ensure you're getting what you want every step of the way, your party can't really complain if everything is being bought for them and all they have to give is their time! You may have people who insist on complaining anyway, if somebody is being a negative Nelly then you can always ask them to attend as a guest instead and reallocate the budget set for them elsewhere.
They Should Pay
This is a pretty common tradition for weddings in the US, the wedding party cover the cost of anything pertaining to them and often covers the cost of the bride or groom for things like a bachelorette or bachelor party. This can leave you with a huge chunk of your budget to allocate elsewhere (dessert table here we come!). While these costs are spread out a little more evenly for the party (nobody is paying for anybody else's dress, hair or makeup), it can be a hefty cost for somebody who hasn't been budgeting and planning for a few months (or years) and is taking part as a loving gesture to their friend or family member.
A very prominent downside is that you can't really force anybody to spend their money for you. If you love a dress that the rest of the bridal party hates then they could very easily just refuse to purchase it and find an alternative that they as a group prefer. It can also cause a huge strain on your relationship with your loved ones as they begin to associate spending time around you with spending their hard-earned money. If you plan to ask your party to cover 100% of their own costs then you have to be practical about where their money is being spent or you might end up without a wedding party!
Split The Costs
When it comes down to it the most practical option is to split the costs with your wedding party, if you can't realistically pay for 6 to 12 people to attend your wedding then you should either cut down your party or come to a compromise. If you pay for your parties attire on the day (dresses, suits, hair and makeup) then ask your party to cover their own transport and accommodation, this can vastly cut down your costs and might also be more practical for the party as they can work around their own schedules are preferences.
Your wedding is going to be an expensive event, whether it's €3,000 or €30,000 this is assumably the most money you'll ever spend on one party. Be honest with the people you love about your budget, where it's a necessity and places you could cut it back and work as a team to come to a compromise. These are going to be your wedding team for however long it takes from engagement to walking down the aisle, communicating with them from the get-go can take some serious stress and pressure off of your shoulders in the long run!