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When you started your list of potential bridesmaids, it included: your best friend from elementary school, your college roommate, your sister...and also your office bestie, your future sister-in-law, your favorite cousin...and of course your summer BFF from camp, your we-got-matching-tattoos-after-graduation pal from high school, and your got-sort-of-weird-after-college friend who you promised freshman year would be a bridesmaid at your wedding.
Sound familiar? Don't sweat it! We're here to help you figure out how many bridesmaids is too many—and how to whittle down your list if necessary!
On average, North American brides have between three and five bridesmaids. Some have way, way more than that; others forgo the bridal party altogether. If you're considering going above average (six bridesmaids or more), make sure you take into consideration the effect that this will have on the rest of your wedding.
If you do need to make some cuts to your ever-expanding bridesmaid list, remember that most friends will happily just be guests at your wedding. What they truly care about is witnessing the wedding ceremony, not necessarily being a part of it. So trust your instincts and make sure that you prioritize yourself. A wedding is a perfect opportunity to celebrate with your besties, so make sure not to stress too much!
How Many Bridesmaids Do You Need?
The first question to ask yourself is how many bridesmaids you really need, and that includes how many you really want. The bridesmaids that you make part of your wedding party are there to make your wedding day special.
So if you can’t choose between your closest friends or your family members, don’t worry about it! There are plenty of benefits of being surrounded by so many people who love you at your wedding.
A bigger bridal party means:
- No one gets left out, and you don't have to hurt anyone’s feelings. You get to include your whole list of friends and have a gaggle of supporters up at the altar with you on the big day. Who can say more to even more love and excitement?
- You'll be able to take some pretty amazing wedding photos. Put the bridesmaids in a rainbow of bridesmaid dresses or an ombre fade and then take some creative pictures!
- There will be more hands to help with DIY projects and other parts of the wedding planning. Yes, you could always ask your friends for help even if they're not in your wedding, but a bridesmaid is much more likely to say yes! Plus, if some friends can’t make it to the dress fitting or the cake tasting, you’ll have lots of other input to make up for it.
- You'll have a great turnout at your pre-wedding events. All of the bridesmaids and their partners mean a good time at your engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette, and other events is pretty much guaranteed.
How Many Bridesmaids Is Too Many?
Of course, a big wedding party isn’t always the best option. Having too many bridesmaids can bring unnecessary stress. Remember that bridesmaids are the people and friends that are supposed to support you and help your wedding day go smoothly.
If you feel that the number on your list is creeping too high, try to narrow it down. Maybe only choose your closest friends rather than just your close friends or include only sisters instead of cousins.
Think about your wedding planning needs and who might be able to help with each part. There is no harm or shame in being practical when choosing the friends who will be part of your bridal party. Your close friends will ultimately understand; being a bridesmaid isn’t everything.
Having too many bridesmaids mean that:
- It can get expensive, even if you’re asking each person to buy their own bridesmaid dress. If you want your bridesmaids to have a certain look, you may be footing the bill for hair, makeup, and accessories—so consider that before choosing 10 friends. Just so you know, hair and makeup is typically $50-$100 per person, let alone the cost of your own wedding day beauty.
- Too many cooks in the kitchen can get really stressful, really fast. Your bridesmaids know you well and want the best for you, but sometimes friends get a little too exuberant with their advice and opinions. If you don't like the way a bridesmaid is behaving, you may find yourself questioning your relationship with her—and the last thing you want is for your wedding to ruin one of your friendships!
- Dress drama can escalate quickly. More women in the bridal party means more body types, personal styles, and voices to mitigate. Having a lot of bridesmaids means having to choose a bridesmaid dress that satisfies a whole flock of women, from fabric to fit...you can imagine how challenging that can be!
- Planning your bachelorette party and bridal shower could get really complicated. Your bridesmaids may know each other, but it's more likely that they don't. While planning these events is a bridesmaid tradition, having to collaborate on your pre-wedding parties could raise tensions if some of the gals butt heads. You don’t want your bridal brunch to dissolve into madness!
- Keeping track of everyone in a huge wedding party on the day-of can be tough. Ready to take all those great photos you plotted out with your photographer? Hold that flash! Two of your bridesmaids had to hit the loo. If you want to have a lot of bridesmaids, you might want to develop a quick roll-call system to keep track of everyone.
What Is The Average Number Of Bridesmaids?
As we said above, the average number of bridesmaids for North American brides is between three and five; however, that’s just a number. There is no reason to hold yourself to the average number if you feel like your wedding day wouldn’t be the same without more bridesmaids.
The bridal party should be a group of people that you can’t imagine your wedding without. There is lots of flexibility in the actual number of people that you end up with whether it’s four or ten. Like any piece of the wedding planning experience, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This is a decision that is entirely up to you (and maybe the groom if you really need some extra help).
While the flower girl may not remember your wedding, the bridesmaids definitely will. A good bridesmaid choice is the person that you want there every step of the way during the entire wedding process. They are there to hold your hand, keep your spirits up, and have fun with you from the day of your engagement to the last song on the dance floor.
We can’t offer you any suggestions on the exact number of bridesmaids to include in your wedding, but we can say that the friends and family you include should be dedicated to making you feel like a bride (instead of a camp counselor). So regardless of the number of bridesmaids you choose, remember to prioritize the love, trust, and support you feel from them.
How Do You Choose Your Bridesmaids?
One other thing to consider isn’t just the number of bridesmaids but the size of the entire wedding party. You might also be wondering how many groomsmen you should plan on having. The average number of groomsmen tends to be around six, however, the most typical suggestion is to have an even pairing of bridesmaids and groomsmen.
So if you’re really stressing about who you can cross off your list, talk to your partner and see if they have a hard number. Most friends will understand if they aren’t invited to be part of your wedding party, but for the one or two that sulk a little, it can be helpful to have a built-in excuse of matching numbers.
Another piece of the puzzle might be considering the duties and responsibilities of a bridesmaid. There is no harm in being practical with your choices. Who has the best ideas? Who has the best attention to detail? Who do you want to call when you’re dealing with the many headaches of figuring out a seating plan? Think about your expectations for your wedding party as well as your friends’ tendencies.
Your friendship may be for life, but that means that your friend who can be a little flighty probably won’t change overnight just because she’s a bridesmaid. Think about the mounting wedding checklist that you yet to complete and who you have zero doubts about helping you get it all done. All of those things matter when considering who you want by your side when you walk down the aisle.
At the end of the day, all you can do is take all of the information we’ve presented—about numbers, about responsibilities, about connections—and make your picks. Remember that communication is key. Be as honest as you can be with those that you might not pick to be an official part of your celebration, but tell them that they’re an incredibly important part of your guest list.
An official role in someone’s wedding party does not change the amount of love and respect between you two. There might be some tough conversations in your future, but at the end of the day, your wedding is only one day out of your entire life. Not making someone a bridesmaid should not make or break your friendship.
Amidst all of this, remember that it's totally up to you to decide who's in and who's out. There are no hard-and-fast rules about choosing bridesmaids, although it's definitely courteous to include your sisters/sisters-in-law if you're on good terms with them. Considering who will be the most supportive and helpful throughout the planning process should help you whittle it down.
Then, think about who you want to bear witness to your marriage in this special way. These are the people that you should pick as bridesmaids. Remember: the one that matters most on your wedding day is you. The number of people standing beside you definitely doesn’t.