If you’re anything like us, you’ve been planning out your bridal party since you were young. It’s often hard to put together a list of bridesmaids for your special day, which leads to questions like: How many bridesmaids should I have? How many bridesmaids is too many?
For many brides, picking their bridesmaids is the first exciting step after getting engaged. Common choices for bridesmaids often include your best friends, sisters, future sisters in law, or other close family members like your favorite cousin.
Some couples prefer to keep the wedding party small, while others are happy to have 12 or even more bridesmaids by their side. If you’re struggling to decide not only who to choose, but how many bridesmaids you should have, use our guide!
How do you know how many are normal? How do I whittle down my list ever-growing list? It’s totally up to you! Walk down the aisle with whoever you feel most comfortable with and you’re sure to be happy with your choice.
We’ll cover the average number of bridesmaids in modern times and other considerations to help you pick your bridesmaids.
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.
We have 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.
Do I Need the Same Number of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen?
It’s common for couples to keep the number of bridesmaids and groomsmen the same so that there is an even number. This makes it easier for them to walk down the aisle together, and the number will look even at the altar.
If those things matter to you, then sure, keep the numbers even! Otherwise, there is no rule that states the wedding party has to be the same size on both sides. If you want to include more friends than your spouse, don’t stress about matching numbers.
Pros of Having a Large Bridal Party
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.
With more bridesmaids, you don’t have to pick favorites among your friends when choosing your bridesmaids.
More Cost-Effective for the Bridesmaids
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. You can even look into group discounts for everyone buying their bridesmaid dress together.
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.
The more bridesmaids you have, the more help you will have with wedding planning, which can be a good thing to ensure your special day goes smoothly.
Cons of Having a Large Bridal Party
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. No one wants drama at their bachelorette party!
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. The maid of honor typically gets a special gift as well. 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 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.
Keep in mind that family members may not know your best friends, so make sure they feel included in the group! Try to get the group together before big events like the bridal shower and bachelorette party so that everyone is comfortable working together.
If you have younger family members, consider adding a junior bridesmaid or two to the mix!
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. Your friends can be involved in the wedding without wearing a bridesmaid dress!
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. You can even mix it up and have an adult flower girl to include someone else in your wedding! 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.
History of Bridesmaids
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.
“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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