Consider a few options to lower cost in this department, though you are not paying for it but it will make your bridesmaids happy therefore taking away some stress from you. Remember, money can't buy love. So though your bridesmaids may love you if they can't afford the dress they can't afford to be in your wedding...don't hate me for saying that:)
Options to consider without breaking the bank but still getting the look you want:
1. Shop in retail stores, especially after the holiday season.
For example, in my case after going to a wedding boutique, where my sister (matron of honor) almost had a heart attack, I took her to a local retail store where we found a similiar dress for over 80% less. Granted it was not what I had invisioned nor was it the color but it turned out better than what I had expected and my sister survived a potential heart attack :) Couldn't had it any other way.
2. Shop solid colors.
Some of you may be struggling with bridesmaids on the opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to weight. Don't be stuck on one design. Instead let the bridemaids choose different styles to fit their shape.
3. Shop online.
Some stores will have more options online and give you the option to pick up in store.
4. Shop their closets or their friend's closet.
I know it sounds too risky but if you intend for the bridesmaids to wear, lets say black, what women does not own a black dress? Of course, this would be up to your discretion. Just add your personal style to it. Maybe add a ribbon, same color shoes, same color bouquet, same color accessories, etc. You get the point.
5. Of course you can't rule out Ebay and Amazon.
Check out my Amazon Store, at the top of my blog, where I have selected dresses under $50.00.
So using Amazon as reference, I found the Look for your bridesmaids for Less. Pretty versatile dress that can get use after the wedding for a night out or a romantic dinner. Both dresses are chiffon halter dresses with a beaded neckline and waistline. Take a look.