In traditional days of yore, it was the bridesmaids who had to pay for the privilege of being part of the wedding so they footed the bills for their dresses. Today however, that doesn't seem quite so pragmatic (or tactful).
This is one rule that's had a modern reality check. 'Nowadays it all depends on how much control you take,' says top wedding planner Kathryn Lloyd (kathrynlloyd.co.uk). 'If you're very specific about the type of dress you want, you should pay for it. It's your colour choice with your style guidelines and the chances are your bridesmaids will never wear it again.'
However, if you're relaxed about the shape and suggest a flexible colour palette (like blue and greens), then it's fine to ask your bridesmaids to contribute. '30% to 40% of the dress price is acceptable,' suggests Kathryn.
Alternatively, inform each bridesmaid of your budget and your chosen colour scheme, and if they want a more expensive outfit they can cover the rest themselves. The same rules apply to bridesmaids and pageboys. If you want them in sailor suits, start saving up. If you're happy with neutral tones, offer to buy them new shoes.
Whatever happens, don't give anyone full creative reign. You've got your photos to consider, no one wants their cousin's canary yellow kaftan stealing the show!