There are over 2 million weddings annually in the U.S., marking one of the most significant milestones in one’s life. So it only stands to reason that aside from the person you are saying “I do” to, you would want the most important people in your life standing by your side. Everyone wants to be a part of your big day, from your parents to your friends. But when it comes to your bridal party, how many bridesmaids can you have?
Determining the Right Number of Bridesmaids
From the moment the proposal is over, most brides start dreaming about their big day (assuming they haven’t already been dreaming about it for the months and years leading up to it). Since most weddings take about one year to plan and dresses need to be ordered about six months in advance, figuring out who will be in the wedding party needs to be determined sooner rather than later.
But this isn’t a decision to be made lightly. There are many determining factors in choosing your bridesmaids. That said, many brides and their grooms struggle to decide how many.
Let’s explore some essential considerations for how many bridesmaids is normal and how to make the right decision for your big day.
How Many Bridesmaids Do You Need?
Ultimately, deciding how many bridesmaids to have is up to the bride and groom, but primarily the bride. And, in modern weddings, traditions are evolving, and the concept of bridesmaids has taken on a whole new meaning. Gone are the days of adhering to a fixed number or conforming to traditional gender roles. This means that, quite simply, there can’t be too many bridesmaids.
That said, as far as the average number of bridesmaids, North American brides have between three and five bridesmaids. Some have way more than that; others forgo the bridal party altogether.
Professional matchmaker Sameera Sullivan says, “The number of bridesmaids you have in your wedding can vary depending on personal preferences and other factors. There is no set rule on how many bridesmaids you should have; the decision is entirely up to you. Consider the size of your wedding, the level of intimacy you want with your bridesmaids, and your budget for dresses and gifts when deciding on the number.”
In short, you can have as many bridesmaids as you want – there’s no perfect number. From the minimalist approach of having no bridesmaids to embracing a diverse mix of genders within the wedding party, or inviting honorary bridesmaids, couples are redefining what it means to celebrate “her big day.” But that said, there are some things to consider.
1. The Size of the Wedding
The overall size of the wedding should influence the number of bridesmaids. A grand affair with a vast guest list may accommodate a larger bridal party, while a more intimate gathering might call for a smaller, more tightly-knit group.
Consider the venue’s capacity, seating arrangements, and the desired level of personal connection with each bridesmaid. While it’s tempting to include everyone dear to the bride, balancing inclusivity and intimacy is crucial to ensure that each bridesmaid plays a meaningful role in the celebration.
2. The Cost for Bridesmaids to Participate
Being a bridesmaid comes with specific financial responsibilities, including purchasing a bridesmaids dress, contributing to bridal showers or bachelorette parties, and sometimes covering travel expenses.
The bride should be mindful of her chosen bridesmaids’ financial situations and consider how their potential financial burden might affect their ability to enjoy the wedding experience fully. Opting for a smaller bridesmaid group can alleviate financial strain, allowing everyone involved to focus on celebrating without undue financial stress.
3. Expenses Related to a Large Bridal Party
Considering expenses related to a large bridal party is crucial when deciding how many bridesmaids to have. While showing appreciation through thoughtful gifts is customary, the costs can quickly add up with a larger group.
Couples spend, on average, $80 per person in the wedding party, impacting the overall budget significantly. In some cases, the happy couple may also wish to pay for the bridesmaid’s hairstyle for the big day or for her accessories. By carefully weighing the financial implications, couples can make an informed decision that strikes a balance between heartfelt appreciation and financial responsibility, ensuring that everyone can be part of the joyous celebration without undue financial strain.
4. Bridesmaids Duties
Each bridesmaid traditionally takes on specific responsibilities, from helping with wedding planning to emotional support for the bride. As the number of bridesmaids increases, the allocation of wedding party tasks may become more complex. A larger group can distribute the workload, which might also lead to potential coordination challenges.
On the other hand, a smaller group may require more involvement from each individual. The bride should consider the level of assistance she expects from her bridesmaids and choose a number that balances support and practicality.
Wedding photos are cherished memories that last a lifetime. The number of bridesmaids can significantly impact the composition and aesthetics of these photographs. A larger bridal party may result in visually stunning group shots, but it can also be more challenging to coordinate everyone for the perfect picture.
Destination wedding photographer Sarah Bradshaw with Sarah Bradshaw Photography says, “A large bridal party (10+ people on each side) is harder to photograph, simply because there are fewer posing options. Additionally, I have to stand far back to fit everyone in because of how many people there are, so it’s hard to see these important people!”
Conversely, a smaller group allows for more focused, intimate portraits. When deciding the number of bridesmaids, the bride should consider her photography preferences and discuss them with the photographer to ensure the best possible outcome.
Bradshaw says, “I personally love four to seven on each side. It gives the sense of a ‘party,’ without so many people that it overwhelms the couple or makes for awkwardly long processions or introductions. Personally, I think it makes for the best photos!”
6. Number of Groomsmen
Traditionally, couples have often maintained an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. However, modern weddings embrace diversity and inclusivity, where the number of groomsmen need not match the bridesmaids. Additionally, in weddings where gender identity doesn’t matter, there are no set rules for bridesmaid-groomsmen pairings.
Couples can choose their wedding party based on their close relationships and the significance of those bonds. Focusing on meaningful connections over numerical balance allows for a more authentic representation of the couple’s relationships and values, creating a harmonious and joyous celebration of love.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s natural to have questions about assembling the perfect bridal squad. From pondering the ideal number of bridesmaids to considering the diverse types of bridesmaids and wedding parties, we’ve got the answers to help you create a wedding party that reflects your unique love story.
Is It Okay to Have No Bridesmaids?
It’s perfectly okay to have no bridesmaids! Modern weddings embrace individuality, and many couples opt for a more intimate and personalized celebration without a traditional bridal party. Choosing to forgo bridesmaids shifts the focus to the couple, making their love and commitment the center of attention on their big day.
Do I Have to Have the Same Number of Bridesmaids as Groomsmen?
No, you don’t have to have the same number of bridesmaids as groomsmen. Traditional rules no longer dictate wedding party composition. Embrace the freedom to create a unique and inclusive celebration that reflects your relationships and values.
Focus on meaningful connections with your chosen bridesmaids, groomsmen, and wedding attendants, regardless of numerical balance, gender identification, etc., to make your wedding day memorable.
The Bottom Line: How Many Bridesmaids Can You Have?
When it comes to the question of how many bridesmaids can you have, the answer is simple: there are no rigid rules. The modern wedding landscape encourages couples to break free from traditional norms and create a celebration that resonates with their unique love story.
Whether it’s a grand entourage or an intimate gathering, the number of bridesmaids is entirely up to the happy couple. So, cast aside concerns about what’s “normal” and focus on what feels right for you. Embrace the joy of diversity and choose the bridal squad that embodies the essence of your special day.