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How Many Bridesmaids Should I Have? | A Photographer’s Perspective

Engaged person, we understand that selecting your bridesmaids (or bridesmen) to stand next to you as you say your vows to your best-friend-for life can be a difficult one. Perhaps you’re getting pressure to include specific people if you include other specific people! Are you questioning yourself, “How many bridesmaids is normal?” or “How many bridesmaids is too many?” 

As a wedding photographer, let me share some myths and personal observations after having photographed hundreds of weddings.

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Do all of my bridesmaids need to be female?

It’s 2020, and whoever you want to stand next to you as you get married is completely up to you! For the sake of this article, I’ll be using the term “bridesmaid”, “bridesmen” and “bridal party member” interchangeably! 

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What is the average number of bridesmaids?

According to Google, it’s 4.39. According to your world, it’s whatever you want it to be. These “average” numbers on the internet shouldn’t dictate your wedding day. 

How many bridesmaids is too many? 

I’ve had weddings where the bride had a close knit group of friends throughout elementary, highschool, college, grad school, med school, and at work. She had 36 bridesmaids. That’s completely okay. She was surrounded by love. It’s what she wanted!

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What do I have to think about if I have a large bridal party?

  • How does this affect your budget?
  • Will you be purchasing bridesmaids’ gifts for all of them? 
  • Will you be paying for all of their hair and makeup services, bridesmaids dresses, jewelry, and shoes? 
  • Will you need to book a larger hotel suite or larger “getting ready” location if everyone is getting ready together? 
  • If you are all getting ready together, will you  need to hire more hair and makeup artists so that everyone can be ready on time?
  • Will having all of these bridesmaids around you add to your wedding day experience, or stress you out more? 

How many bridesmaids is too few? 

There is no answer for this. It is completely okay to have zero bridesmaids. You don’t need to have any bridesmaids if you don’t want to!

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Do I need to have an even number of bridesmaids?

No! It’s also okay if it’s an uneven number. Asking another person that you might not really want to be standing next to you, for the sake of having symmetry in a photograph may cause more drama, than the benefit of having an even number on your right and left.

True story: I’ve had several couples ask me to put specific bridal party people on the edges so that they could be easily cropped out or retouched out in post processing. 

Do I have to have the same number of bridal party members on my side as my fiance’s side?

Some couples prefer symmetry for the portraits, but it’s common for the number of bridal party members on one couple’s side to be different from the count on the other. 

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Will not having an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen throw the ceremony processional or recessional off?

I’d like you to think about previous weddings you’ve been to, specifically ones from 5+ years ago. It’s highly unlikely that anyone will remember that that lucky groomsmen John escorted two beautiful bridesmaids, Maria and Sally down the aisle, instead of one bridesmaid  to one groomsmen, like the others. 

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© Nicole Chan Photography

Yes, some weddings even have one bridal party member on one side, and ten bridal party members on the other side. 

We at Wedding Maps give you permission to not be cookie-cutter with your wedding day! Select as many or as few bridesmaids as you are comfortable with! 

Nicole Chan is an international wedding photographer and filmmaker and member of the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP) and World Photojournalist Association. She is constantly trying to keep up with her Siberian Husky, Sledder, and consuming as much chocolate and sushi as she can (but obviously not together). Nicole is a rock climber, a skier, and a board gamer. She also designs escape games for her other company - Trapology Boston.