How many bridesmaids are you going to have at your wedding? This is probably one of the first things you’ll think about on your wedding planning journey. For some brides-to-be, there’s no question at all – you might have a few good friends that you’ve always dreamed of walking down the aisle with. But for others, it can be quite a difficult decision to make.
In this article, we’ll take you through a step-by-step process to help you decide exactly how many bridesmaids to have, and how to choose them.
How to Choose Your Bridesmaids
A wedding can have quite literally any number of bridesmaids. Some brides have no maids at all, whereas others might have several dozen. The most common number of bridesmaids is 3, but anywhere between 1 and 12 is considered a perfectly normal amount.
Here’s how you can decide how many bridesmaids to have at your wedding, and who they should be.
1. Consult Your Budget
First things first – let’s talk money. Unfortunately, bridesmaids don’t come cheap. Each bridesmaid will bring with her an additional cost, so don’t go asking your friends to be bridesmaids before you’ve consulted your wedding budget.
For each bridesmaid that you have in your wedding, you will need to pay for:
• Her dress
• Her shoes, jewellery and other accessories (such as a clutch bag or hairpiece)
• Her flowers (bouquet and/or corsage)
• Her food throughout the day (canapés, wedding breakfast and reception buffet)
• A bridesmaid gift (to say thank you)
• Transportation to the venue, if your bridesmaids are getting ready with you
Many brides also pay for their bridesmaids’ hair and makeup to be styled on the morning of the wedding. As a general rule, if you’re determined that your bridesmaids look a certain way (wear a specific dress, have a certain hairstyle or shade of nail polish) then it’s your responsibility to pay for it.
2. Examine Your Venue
Once you’ve decided on the maximum number of bridesmaids that your budget can handle, it’s time to take a look at your venue. The size and layout of the ceremony room can give a clue as to how many bridesmaids you should opt for.
For example, if you’re getting married in a registry office or a small country hotel, there might not be a lot of space. How many bridesmaids will actually be able to fit in the space in order to stand up with you? (If you don’t mind them sitting down once they get to the end of the aisle, of course, this matters little.) If you’re getting married in a huge, sweeping ballroom, will it look odd to only have 2 bridesmaids?You may also wish to consider your wedding photos, and what will look best in bridesmaid shots. Many brides, for example, prefer to have an even number of bridesmaids. That way, the bride can stand in the middle in photos, and won’t look off-centre. (There are ways of getting around this with an odd number, though – such as having the bride sit down with a bridesmaid standing behind her.)
3. Consider Formality
You may not realise it, but the formality of a wedding can have an impact on how many bridesmaids ‘look right’. As a general rule:
• Very formal weddings (black tie) typically have between 6 and 10 bridesmaids (occasionally up to 12), along with at least one flower girl and ring bearer/page boy
• Semi-formal to formal weddings usually have somewhere between 2 and 6 bridesmaids
• Casual weddings, elopements and registry office weddings often have just one or two bridesmaids, but may have none at all
If you’d like to stick to tradition, you can consult the above guidelines. But remember, it’s not a hard limit.
Just because you’re having a super-formal wedding, it doesn’t mean you must have 6 or more bridesmaids. You may prefer to have only your two best friends standing next to you, rather than a group of women you barely know. On the other hand, if you have lots of close friends and a big budget for your casual beach wedding, have a dozen bridesmaids if you like! It’s your big day, so what you say goes.
4. Think Friendship Dynamics
By now, you should have a rough idea of the number of bridesmaids that would suit your wedding, and how many you can afford. Now that you’ve got this ballpark figure, it’s time to start thinking about who you ask.
You’ve probably had certain individuals in mind all along. Most brides choose their sisters and closest few friends as their bridesmaids. Before you make your decision, consider the dynamics of your social group.
For example: let’s say you’ve decided you’d like 4 bridesmaids, as it’s an even number. But you have two sisters, and 3 best friends. Do you really want to risk hurting someone’s feelings by leaving them out? It may be best to ask everyone, so that nobody gets upset – or have fewer bridesmaids (ask your sisters and not your friends, for example).
5. Pop the Question
The most important part – you now need to actually ask your best girls to be your bridesmaids! For a nice touch, consider handing out some beautiful Will You Be My Bridesmaid cards.
This will be the final decider in how many bridesmaids you have. After all, there’s no guarantee that everyone you ask will actually say yes.
Try not to be offended or upset if someone decides not to be your bridesmaid. It’s a lot of work, and ladies with children or demanding jobs (or who live far away) simply might not be able to sacrifice the time and money. Or they could have another reason for the refusal, such as social anxiety. Being in the limelight isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time.
If you’re set on having a certain number of bridesmaids, then make a ‘B-list’ of who you might ask next, should any of your prime candidates say no. But don’t wait too long to ask them – you risk offending them if they realise they weren’t your first choice.
FAQs: How Many Bridesmaids Is Too Many?
Do you have a whole lot of sisters? Or perhaps you’re a social butterfly, and you can’t decide between your best girlfriends? You may be wondering just how many bridesmaids is ‘too many’.
Don’t worry. There’s no law against having a huge number of bridesmaids. It might be uncommon for there to be more than 10 or so bridesmaids in a single wedding, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
The Guinness World Record for the most bridesmaids currently stands at a whopping 130. This was at a wedding in Yorkshire in 2015. The couple also had 100 ushers – and everyone looked as though they had a great time. So don’t worry if you’d like a few more bridesmaids than what might be ‘the norm’.
Do You Have to Have Equal Bridesmaids and Groomsmen?
Many people claim that you ought to have an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. But if you’re getting married in the U.K., you don’t have to worry about this rule.
In the U.S.A., it’s tradition that each bridesmaid walks down the aisle arm-in-arm with a groomsman – therefore, an equal number is pretty important. But on our side of the pond, ushers (the U.K. term for groomsmen) don’t usually walk down the aisle at all. They typically stand up at the front of the ceremony room with the groom, while the bridesmaids walk down the aisle unaccompanied. So if you have more close friends than your fiancé does (or vice versa), you don’t need to worry.
Do You Have to Ask Someone to Be Your Bridesmaid if You Were Theirs?
Short answer: no. You’re under no obligation to ask someone to be your bridesmaid just because you were a bridesmaid at their wedding. This is particularly true if it was a long time ago – you might have grown apart since you attended their ceremony, after all.
Sometimes, in wedding planning, we have to make decisions that are right for us even if we worry we’ll come across as rude. Don’t feel pressured to have someone as a bridesmaid if you don’t really want them in your wedding. A true friend will understand that it’s a personal decision to make.
Can You Have No Bridesmaids At All?
If this whole ‘bridesmaid’ idea isn’t up your alley, you’re free not to have any at all. Many couples get married without any bridesmaids, best men, or wedding attendants to speak of! It’s particularly common not to have any bridesmaids in registry office weddings or elopements.
But even if you’re having a huge church service, you needn’t have any bridesmaids if you don’t want any. It’s your wedding, so it’s entirely up to you