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The Struggle In Choosing The Size Of Your Bridal Party

Fall Wedding at Trader's Point Creamery + Miss Cara Photography
(C) Miss Cara Photography

How many people in a bridal party is too many? Do you have to ask your soon-to-be in-laws? Can you leave out your siblings? Is it rude to not want anyone to join you at the altar? In this post, you'll learn my two cents on the topic so that you can feel more confident in making the decision for yourself.

As a photographer, I have truly No, I'm not just talking about drunk grandparents, strip teases on the dance floor, mooning from a limo, or a videographer's hair catch on fire... I'm also talking about the struggle related to the size-of-your-bridal-party.

Let's start on the same page.... Your bridal party does NOT:

  • need to be even;

  • need to have female bridesmaids and male groomsmen;

  • need to be the same size, height, race, ethnicity, religion, age, or marital status.

However, your bridal party DOES need to be:

  • comprised of your most favorite people;

  • willing to have a good time;

  • aware that this is your day and that their problems, struggles, deep emotional needs, and desires should come second to yours and your soon-to-be spouse for the better part of 12ish hours (minimum).

Let's go a little more granular on this topic by talking about the bridal party members. In this instance, free to swap siblings for cousin, second cousin, aunt, niece, etc. (as well as the male counterparts to these titles). The idea is that these are people who you are related to and who may be offended if you leave them out of your bridal party.

Bridal Party at Trader's Point Creamery + Miss Cara Photography
(C) Miss Cara Photography


Repeat after me: "My siblings are not entitled or required to join me on the altar."

That being said, many siblings share a bond that would position them in your bridal party line-up. If you feel obligated to have them join you but don't feel that they would make your day better with their presence, you have other options!

  • Ask them to be your day-of contact and help vendors get settled at the wedding and reception. If you are hiring an event planner or coordinator, continue reading;

  • Ask them to greet guests prior to your ceremony. They can hand out programs, ask people to sign your guest book, and warmly welcome guests;

  • Ask if they might mind helping pass out recessional bird seed, bubbles, or sparklers;

  • If they have small children that could be a ring bearer or flower girl, ask for that involvement instead. It's a full-time job keeping kiddos on point;

  • Can they bring the bridal party lunch? What a huge help that would be!

Fall Wedding at Trader's Point Creamery + Miss Cara Photography
(C) Miss Cara Photography


Repeat after me: "My in-laws are not entitled or required to join me on the altar."

Sometimes people get married without knowing much about their in-laws. It could be that they live on the other side of the world, have been away at school, or are not close with your soon-to-be spouse.

You need to remember that each person you will be adding to your bridal party will contribute to your overall mood throughout the day. If you want to have a great experience, surround yourself with happy, excited, and engaged people! It should never be a burden for someone to join in a wedding. If it is, they don't need to be there.

Great tasks for in-laws not in your bridal party include:

  • asking them for local referrals for vendors or venues depending on where you're hosting the ceremony and reception. If they can provide an introduction, ask them to;

  • cutting the cake or serving desert;

  • serving as ushers for wedding guests;

  • providing the prayer/thanks at dinnertime;

  • transporting your personal items from the wedding venue to the reception venue.

Groomsmen + Miss Cara Photography
(C) Miss Cara Photography

Your friend who had you in their bridal party...

Repeat after me: "My friends are not entitled or required to join me on the altar."

Sometimes when we weigh the options posed above, we decide that we a) have too many friends and can't include them all or b) simply wouldn't ask this friend to join us on the altar even though they asked us. Time passes and friendships can change. Don't feel obligated to include someone simply because they included you. Also remember that each person on your party is a contributor to the overall vibe of the day. If you were in a friend's wedding that was full of alcohol and profanity, that may not be the best fit for your traditional, religious wedding-day vision even though both were great in their own way.

Like everything else, there are thoughtful ways to include them if you'd like them to be more than a guest:

  • could they serve as an officiant, DJ, photographer, chef, florist, or event planner? Sometimes the right friendships are great for these sorts of needs. Do they offer a product or service that you could use before, during, or after your big day? Ask them to help you through their profession. This doesn't mean that said product or service should be free, however there are times where a friend may offer it in lieu of a wedding gift;

  • could they give you referrals from their nuptials? They'd feel great pride in knowing you chose a vendor they referred to you;

  • would it bring them joy to do a reading or musical performance for you during your ceremony? If so, this is a thoughtful way to bring them into the festivities.

  • maybe they could host pre-wedding festivities for you like a party or shower.

Best Friends in wedding at Trader's Point + Miss Cara Photography
(C) Miss Cara Photography

Your best friend whom you haven't seen in two years...

Repeat after me: "My estranged best friend is not entitled or required to join me on the altar."

If it's been that long I think this one speaks for itself. Again, ask yourself, "would I want this person intimately supporting me on my wedding day?"

No? Review prior alternative tasks.

Yes? Ask them!

Bride & Groom + Miss Cara Photography
(C) Miss Cara Photography

For those considering standing stag...

On my wedding day I walked myself down the aisle in front of 400 people. If I can do that, I am confident that you can absolutely stand with the officiant and your significant other at the altar. Don't let friends, family, or society tell you what's right for you. You may only get this day once and you should live it how you want.


Meanwhile, if you liked what you read here, be sure to explore more wedding-related posts on my blog .

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