How Many Bridesmaids Should You Have?

four bridesmaids in yellow

In the midst of planning my wedding, I changed my mind about my number of bridesmaids. I’m going to share that story in case it helps you.

I went to a friend’s wedding many years ago and she had four bridesmaids that represented different parts of her life: her sister represented her family, a cousin represented her childhood in New Jersey, a friend represented her high school years in Tennessee and another friend was from her then-home in San Francisco.

I thought it was a lovely idea (and still do), and I liked that choosing a single obvious person from each walk of life might cut down on hurt feelings — that way you wouldn’t invite two friends from a social circle, for example, making a third feel left out. I decided that someday I would emulate this approach. With no sisters and having lived in only two places, I’d have two bridesmaids: a Tennessee representative (where I grew up) and a Los Angeles representative (where I live now). I also liked the idea of a small party. It seemed less fussy.

Eventually, I became engaged. My future husband didn’t even think about who his groomsmen would be — it was obvious it should be his five closest friends, many of whom had been in each others’ weddings. While these days it’s no big deal if one member of a couple has more people in their wedding party then another, I still found myself rethinking my original plan. Surprisingly, five ladies instantly came to mind as bridesmaids, and I realized that if I had gone with my original plan, I would have debated between them. At one point in my life, each had been my closest confidante.

So I asked all five ladies to be my bridesmaids and, happily, they agreed! At first, my decision felt extravagant. A smaller wedding party seemed simpler, more manageable — but that was me thinking about myself. As it turns out, having a larger wedding party is easier on my bridesmaids.

Three of my bridesmaids live in Los Angeles and they’re doing the bridal shower and bachelorette party planning, which will both be held in the Los Angeles area. With three, the responsibility of hosting two events doesn’t fall on a single person, which eases the burden — and five bridesmaids eases the financial burden of hosting these events as well. My other two bridesmaids are from Tennessee, so come time for the wedding, I’ll have two ladies more familiar with the area, who can cart things to where they need to be, giving the non-locals a break, and hopefully, some opportunity to see Nashville.

Also, although I’m wary of DIY projects, if I take some on, with more bridesmaids I have more hands to help me. Lastly, when I need a single person’s help with something, I can switch out who I ask, so it all doesn’t fall on one person. And as it turns out, e-mailing and chatting with my bridesmaids has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my wedding planning experience — I’m so glad all five will be standing beside me as I take this big step.

I’m not saying more bridesmaids is best for everyone. I was simply surprised that it turned out to be the answer for me. If you’re debating the number of bridesmaids, I encourage you to take a step back and think about not only what’s best for you, but what would make the experience better for your bridesmaids as well.

Please share your bridesmaids stories! How many are you having? Why did you decide on that number?

Soon I’ll be sharing my plan for bridesmaid attire as well. Yes indeed, this task has been a tough one!

Photo by Steph Fowler

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