As tradition goes that the bridesmaid should pay for the dress, approved by etiquette " teachers " of the 1960s, however, there are many others don't agree with that. Therefore, the problem who should pay it has been raised. Of course, the reasons are various from different ways. Even though buying modest bridesmaid dresses online wouldn't cost you too much money, if your bridesmaid is still a scholar, shower good to your wedding cannot be an easy thing.
Even that, she may feel to humiliated to tell you the truth. This is not the worst circumstance, some of them might find other alibi to rejecting your wedding role. Don't think is's hard to trust because your bridesmaid dress may cost them hundreds of dollars although you regard it worthy to spend so much money for the only one-time wedding a lifetime. Your feelings can be understood, but stand on your friends' point, you may find they have their difficulty. They are not rich as you are and their parents cannot afford so much money for them, too. You have no need to abide by the regulation.
You have your freedom to make yourself and your friends comfortable. Also as a friend, you have such responsibility. They have their life to live and causing a big problem for your friends is not the thing you want.
First, I bet you don't want your girls to be a totally matching set, but want their individuality to shine through. And this applies that when you are count on your friends to buy the dresses by themselves.
As a result, you have to ask their opinions, making sure the dress you choose would not be thrown into the cabinet bottom and would not be used out for other occasions. That means waste money no matter how cheap it is.
If you know your friend have little savings and they are still at college, then before you invite them as your bridesmaid, you'd better talk this in front of her parents since their money comes lots from their parents. And this needs skills. Before you said it out, doing some research in local stores or with online shops will make you clear about the price the dresses you choose costs. Then you can tell her parents the dress you like and give them a mimic price and confirm whether it goes fine with them. It would be far better to accentuate that a similar budget is OK if the dress you like doesn't goes well with your bridesmaids.