If you’re anything like me, you’ve been planning out your bridal party since you were young. While my list of bridesmaids has changed over the years, it was one of the first things I thought about after getting engaged. It’s often hard to put together a list of bridesmaids for your special day, which left me to think: how many bridesmaids should I have? How many is too many?
My list consisted of my sister, two best friends, and future sister-inlaw. Some other common bridesmaids might include your fave cousin, close friends, office best friend, college roommates or high school bestie. My list started much larger (around 12) and I had to make adjustments.
My partner and I knew we only wanted about five bridesmaids and groomsmen for the wedding. This was just our preference when considering wedding photos, bachelorette/bachelor parties and our overall budget. We also considered the time it would take for our party to walk down the aisle at the reception.
The idea of having bridesmaids originated in Roman times as a barrier against jealous suitors on the wedding day. The role evolved into a superstitious position, where ten witnesses must be present to ensure no evil spirits enter the marriage or a legal obligation, where the law required a bride and groom to have a wedding party.
Today, a bridesmaids’ role is to help the bride, whatever she may need leading up to and on the special day.
So, now you may be thinking, “how many bridesmaids should I have?” How do you know how many are normal? How do I whittle down my list ever-growing list? Read on for some tips on picking your crew.
What is the Average Number of Bridesmaids?
The average number in North America is between 3 to 5 bridesmaids. But, that number can vary greatly depending on the size of your wedding, the theme, family obligations, and personal preferences. I’ve seen some weddings have anywhere from 7 to 10 bridesmaids. At the end of the day, the number of bridesmaids you choose is up to you.
Brides wanting a small, intimate wedding may opt for fewer bridesmaids, or even just one, the maid of honor. Having a limited number of people at the altar goes with the theme of intimacy. If your wedding is more extensive, with a couple of hundred guests, it’s more appropriate to have more. A general rule of thumb is to keep your wedding crew’s size consistent with the vibe of your wedding.
Another factor that goes into your decision is family obligations. Sometimes, a bride will feel the pressure to have family in their wedding party. If that bride has numerous cousins and sisters, that can add up quickly. Add friends into the mix, and the party can soon get out of control. It’s common to have conversations with family members and set expectations early.
So, how many is too many? How many bridesmaids is normal? Ultimately, it’s up to you and what factors are shaping your wedding.
Advantages of a Lot of Bridesmaids
There are several advantages to having a lot of bridesmaids. More bridesmaids mean more hands to help you with any task leading up to the wedding, from tasting food, picking out music, and deciding on decorations. Having a lot of bridesmaids also allows you to include everyone special in your life.
No One Feels Left Out
With no exclusions, all of your best friends and family will be able to support you and no one will feel left out. It’s common for brides to include all of the previous brides from wedding parties they were included in. This wasn’t a great option for me because I’ve been included in about 8 different weddings – but for some brides this is a good option. The more
More Cost-Effective for the Bridemaids
Having a bigger wedding party can also be more cost-effective for your crew. There will be more girls to chip in for events like the bridal shower and bachelorette party. The more bridesmaids there are, the less each person’s cut will be in the end. Lessening the financial burden can relieve stress for both the bridesmaids and the bride.
More Help Before & During the Wedding
Having more bridesmaids in your party means more people to help set up and help plan the wedding. It’s common for brides to DIY some projects to save money. Need help sending invites to the guest list, writing out all of your table cards, creating centerpieces or decorating? Enlist the help of your bridesmaids to get all of this work done efficiently.
On the actual wedding day, bridesmaids can help set up, ushering guests around, dealing with the caterers, and rounding up gifts before the ceremony. They are also there to solve any problems that may arise, so the bride can relax and enjoy the day. Like someone not showing up and missing decorations or small problems that can be significant, like the bride is hungry or needs an update on the groom and groomsmen.
The more bridesmaids you have, the more help you will have, which can be a good thing to ensure your special day goes smoothly.
Disadvantages of a Lot of Bridesmaids
On the flip side, there are some disadvantages to having a lot of bridesmaids. When making your decision be sure to consider the following:
Too Many Opinions & Conflict
Whereas more bridesmaids equal more help, it can also mean more cooks in the kitchen. If you have a large party and they are not all on the same page, it can lead to disagreements and stress.
Remember, each bridesmaid has her own distinct personality, and it may not mesh with everyone in the wedding party, opening the door to conflict.
Less Cost Effective for the Bride
Having a large party can mean more financial burden for the bride. A bride can opt to buy each bridesmaid a gift for hosting the bridal shower and for standing beside her on the wedding. These gifts can start to add up, and the more bridesmaids you have, the more money you will have to spend.
The same is also true for the wedding day, should you choose to treat your bridesmaids with hair and makeup. Those special moments are expensive and will quickly run up your wedding expenses.
More for the Bride to Keep Track of
Having a larger wedding party also means there’s more for the bride to keep track of. Who still hasn’t ordered their dress? Which girls are butting heads about the bridal shower? Who doesn’t want to go to Nashville to celebrate?
You’ll also have more people to keep track of before the ceremony. Who’s late? Who still needs hair and makeup done? Who doesn’t like their makeup? Is everyone accounted for and ready for photos?
How To Choose the Bridesmaids in Your Bridal Party
Choosing your bridal crew is an important task. First, look at your family and decide who is close enough to include. Maybe that’s everyone, or perhaps it’s no one. Then, look at your close friends. These are the best friends who were by your side during all the chapters of your life.
A lot of brides will include their family members in the party when wedding planning. Having your sisters, cousins, aunts or nieces as part of your wedding is very common. Especially if you’re really close with any of them. You may also want to think about including members of the groom’s family as well.
Choosing your closest friends to stand by your side is extremely common. These women can include friends from childhood, high school, college, and beyond. The modern wedding can even have some bridesmen, which are men that are important in your life. Remember, you will be looking back on these wedding pictures decades from now, and you will want to reflect on the most important friends in your life.
Alternatives to Being a Bridesmaid in a Wedding Party
If you find that you have too many people on your list and don’t want them all as bridesmaids, you can opt to have them take on a different role during the wedding. You could have that special cousin read a poem or that college friend sing a song.
You could even incorporate a friends’ child into the wedding as the flower girl or ring bearer as a way to include them on the big day. Thinking outside the box will allow you to have all the important people in your life be a part of your special day.
It can be hard to narrow down your list of bridesmaids, especially if you want a small group of ladies. Feeling like you are excluding someone can be stressful and worrisome. You may feel like you need to include everyone to keep the peace. It’s a difficult decision, but it’s also a fun one that will help make your wedding a special one.
“How many bridesmaids should I have” is one of the first questions a bride will face in the wedding planning process. How many bridesmaids is normal? How many is too many?
The answers to those questions are different for every bride. In reality, nothing requires you to have any bridesmaids at all. No superstitions or laws dictate the number of people you should have standing by your side on your wedding day. Therefore, just how many are up there is entirely up to you.
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