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Planning a wedding can be stressful — the attention to detail and amount of decision-making needed to pull off your perfect day can feel overwhelming. You need to choose a venue, the food, your dress, the guest list, and all while trying not to step on too many toes. However, one of your most important decisions is picking how many bridesmaids to have in your wedding party.
You might be wondering how many bridesmaids is normal to have at your wedding. Picking the right amount of bridesmaids can make all the difference for how smoothly your day goes, but what’s the magic number? You’ll need to find a balance between getting the support you need and having too many opinions.
Average Bridal Party Size
When it comes to weddings, there’s no shortage of advice and tips for every little detail. You may have heard plenty of opinions from well-meaning friends and family about how many bridesmaids you should choose. While this facet of planning is generally up to you, the average bridal party size is between three and five.
However, the number seems to be growing as people are waiting longer to get married. In the past, when couples got married in their late teens and early twenties, they hadn’t made as many close adult friends. Waiting until later in life means you’ve had more opportunities to form deep bonds with people from various aspects of your life. Now, it’s completely common to have as many as 10 bridesmaids for larger weddings.
How Many Bridesmaids Should I Have?
It’s a big question, and there’s no one universal answer. You’ll need to consider many factors before you land on how many bridesmaids will feel right for your special day.
What Do Bridesmaids Do?
Before choosing how many bridesmaids you want, you should understand what a bridesmaid is exactly. Generally, bridesmaids provide emotional support to the bride. They are usually the bride’s closest friends and siblings, who the bride wants to have standing by her on her wedding day.
Bridesmaids’ responsibilities can vary a lot. The maid of honor may be in charge of planning the bachelorette party and giving input on big decisions. Other bridesmaids may simply show up to the main events, like the bridal shower, bachelorette, rehearsal dinner and ceremony. The bridesmaids typically process down the aisle before the bride and stand or sit near the altar.
As the bride, you can decide how much of a role you want your bridesmaids to play. Some brides may want to make all the decisions by themselves, while others may want more support in their decisions. If you are planning a large-scale wedding with a lot of moving parts, you may want more bridesmaids to delegate the work. On the other hand, if you’re having a microwedding, you may only need a maid of honor to serve as a witness and confidant.
How Big Is the Wedding?
You may want your bridal party’s size to reflect the scale of your wedding. An intimate beach affair might look overdone with 10 bridesmaids. At the same time, a larger venue holding upwards of 200 guests might look out of balance with only one or two ladies. You’ll need to decide if that aesthetic is important to you.
How Many Can You Afford?
What purchases will you be covering for each of your ladies, and what will they need to buy on their own. Each bridesmaid will need a dress, shoes, flowers, hair and makeup. The current trend is to have them buy their dress and shoes, but you pay for the flowers, hair and makeup. Plus, it’s customary to give each woman a meaningful gift. These costs add up quickly, so see how many bridesmaids your budget has room for.
What Atmosphere Are You Hoping For?
Take a moment to envision the time you’ll spend with your bridesmaids. Are you looking for a large group of girls to party with or a small intimate gathering of ladies? Is this a large wedding that needs lots of hands on deck to get the job done, or will you take care of most of the details yourself?
Do You Already Have People in Mind?
Have you had your choices planned for a long time? Then odds are you’ve already selected your perfect amount. You don’t need to meet anyone else’s expectations for how many bridesmaids to have. You don’t even need to select the same number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Picking bridesmaids should be your own decision. Choose the people who’ll support you and make you feel special on your wedding day.
Who Should Be a Bridesmaid?
Traditionally, individuals pick sisters, close relatives and best friends to be their bridesmaids. In the past, most bridesmaids were unmarried women close to the bride, but that custom is considered outdated now. A bridesmaid can be married or unmarried, of any gender and any relation to the person getting married.
In modern weddings, there are no requirements for who “should” be a bridesmaid. If you have a person who you want standing by your side on your wedding day, feel free to make them a bridesmaid.
Can Friends and Family Fill Other Roles?
Some brides want a smaller bridal party but are worried about making cuts that will end up hurting the feelings of friends and family. However, there are so many different jobs you could ask them to fill — you need ushers and people to give introductions and toasts. Get creative to let your loved ones be part of your wedding without adding to your list of bridesmaids.
Do I Have to Have Bridesmaids?
While it may be less common, some brides choose to have no bridesmaids at their wedding. Picking bridesmaids can be challenging. Some people may have several siblings and friends competing for a spot in the bridal party, making it difficult to narrow down the number. They might worry about offending people and find it easier to go without any bridesmaids.
Other brides may feel they don’t have anyone close enough to serve the role, especially if they have no siblings, or their friends live too far away. Being a bridesmaid can be costly and time-consuming, so some brides may not feel comfortable asking just anyone to make the commitment.
Many couples also choose to elope or wed at a courthouse, where only the officiant and a witness are present. Ultimately, bridesmaids are not a requirement, and you can do whatever makes sense for your situation.
Choosing Your Bridesmaids
How many bridesmaids is normal to have? There’s no one right answer. It all depends on you and your priorities.
If you’re a good planner or have help and support from other people, you may not need a bridal party at all. It’s becoming much more common to skip bridesmaids, especially for small weddings. You might find you want all the attention on you, or you can’t decide who to choose that feels right and doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Ultimately, this day is about you and your partner, so deciding how many bridesmaids to have is a very personal decision. No amount is wrong. Whether you want zero or 20, go with your gut and enjoy your day!
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