I had to pay for two dresses myself as a bridesmaid. The last one was easy, as the bride simply sent us all a picture and what store to find it at. The dresses were on sale, and being discontinued, so they were $25 with tax I believe.
My first dress though, that was waaaayyyyy more (close to $350 for a dress I HATED, in a colour I despise and will absolutely never ever wear again). As MOH (to my current FI's brother's fiancee, during that time he was boyfriend), I went with the bride to look at some dresses and get an idea- I was a student and had NO money at that time, as I wasn't prepared to buy anything that day. She decided that day we had to order them, which put me in a really tight spot. As I was panicking internally over the cost of the dress, how I was going to be able to afford it, FI's parents told me they would pay for it (amazing, incredible, blessed people that they are). They didn't end up doing it, in the end, as I called FI and he said we would make due with the small amount left in our account after paying for the dress.
But the bride didn't care at all- all her other bridesmaids were her younger cousins, so their mothers were paying for it, and she didn't care one small ounce what her spur of the moment decision did to me (or care afterwards either).
(They are divorced now, BTW, and she is an evil, crazy, psycho woman I am SOOO glad is out of our family).
I will be asking my bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses, but they have a year and a half to find a dress that fits in with my colours, at any price they want to spend (I am asking them to be realistic and ensure they will wear the dress again and to keep it affordable to their own personal budget). If they cannot find anything within the colours of the wedding, I am more than willing to adjust to something they currently own/ want to wear. So far they are fine with it and understand that they are paying for the dresses themselves.
I will pay for them to get their hair done at the very least, make up maybe after I get quotes from the resort's spa.