Having been wedding photographers for over a decade, we've witnessed the evolution of wedding parties - the size of the party, who's included, their outfits, the numbers on each side, on and on. In this post we'll focus on the size of the wedding party, as many couples struggle to determine how many is best for their wedding. Whether you're considering equal numbers on both sides, no wedding party at all, or a large group of bridesmaids and groomsmen, there's a lot to think about when deciding on your wedding party size.
On a related note, it's important to recognize that the traditional roles of bridesmaids and groomsmen have become much more flexible. A decade ago, seeing a man as a bridesman or a woman as a groomswoman was a rarity. Now, it's quite common. Therefore, when we talk about bridesmaids and groomsmen, we're referring to your chosen supporters, regardless of their gender. They are the individuals you want standing by your side on your big day. Now, with that in mind, let's explore this further.
Understanding Traditional Wedding Party Sizes
Historically, wedding etiquette suggested having around three to five bridesmaids and groomsmen. However, modern weddings have broken from tradition and any specific quantity. The Knot's Real Wedding Study shows the average number of bridesmaids and groomsmen is around four or five, but these figures vary based on several factors. Some factors include what is expected of the wedding party members, budget, and wedding size.
Since we often photograph large weddings, it's common for us to see more than six bridesmaids/groomsmen on each side. So, the "average" would take into account all sizes of weddings at all kinds of venues. A true average would even account for weddings with no bridesmaids or groomsmen. So, again, it's important to consider all aspects of your wedding day.
Ensuring Active Participation on Your Wedding Day
Your wedding party isn't just for show—they play important roles on the day of your wedding. This is a major factor when deciding how many bridesmaids and groomsmen to include. For instance, if you're having a smaller, intimate ceremony with fewer than 50 guests, one to three bridesmaids and groomsmen might suffice. However, for larger weddings of 200 or more guests, you might opt for up to seven or eight bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Considering Venue Size and Wedding Party
The physical size and capacity of your wedding venue also influences your wedding party size. For instance, smaller venues or intimate outdoor spaces might feel crowded with more than four bridesmaids and groomsmen, while grand ballrooms can comfortably accommodate parties of ten or more.
If photography is a consideration (as it always should be, in our opinion), think about the desire for wedding party photos and how they would look at your venue. Look through wedding photos from your venue to get an idea of what different wedding party sizes would look like.
For example, if you're getting married at Casa Real, take a look at weddings we've photographed at this incredible venue: Casa Real Wedding Photos
Or, Nella Terra, one of our absolute favorites: Nella Terra Cellars Weddings
Picking Your Wedding Party for Support
Choosing your wedding party should be about more than just filling roles. Consider the level of support you'll need throughout your wedding planning, including on the wedding day itself. Typically, smaller wedding parties of up to four members can provide more intimate support, while a larger group of seven might offer a wider network of assistance. Consider who will help with planning, hosting pre-wedding events, and offer emotional or logistical support when needed.
Managing Cost Implications and Your Wedding Party
Remember, more people in your wedding party can mean higher costs. Expenses such as gifts, outfits, and transportation increase with each additional member. As a guide, for those planning a wedding on a tighter budget, limiting your wedding party to two to three key members on each side might be more financially prudent.
What About Equal Numbers on Both Sides?
Traditionally, brides and grooms choose the same number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. This keeps things uniform, particularly during photos. However, as we said, things have changed significantly over time, and you are absolutely allowed to make your wedding your own. We do see uneven wedding parties, which really only appears obvious during ceremony photos.
We photograph wedding parties separately and together, and get flexible and creative with each wedding party. We consider colors, heights, outfits, and sometimes gender when photographing, so the total numbers don't really matter to us as wedding photographers.
If you have seven groomsmen and five bridesmaids and are trying to figure out how to have them walk down the aisle, you can break from tradition! How about two groomsmen walking together? That's absolutely ok to do!
Example of an uneven wedding party: Hellen & Lucas
Another Option: No Wedding Party
We linked above to weddings we've photographed at Casa Real, and actually, one of those weddings had an empty wedding party (see here: Leah & Santi's wedding). There may be multiple reasons a couple opts for no bridesmaids or groomsmen. One common reason is simplicity. They may not need to rely on others for planning, or want to keep that stress off of their loved ones. Or perhaps others love the look of having just the two of them together, not flanked on either side by a wedding party. Whatever your reasons may be, they are valid! This is your wedding and you can make your own decisions about it.
Ultimately, the decision on how many people to include in your wedding party should be based on what's right for you, your wedding's style, and your budget. In today's inclusive world, focus on surrounding yourself with those who will support you throughout your wedding journey, regardless of their gender or your past relationship with traditional roles. By considering factors such as the level of support needed, active participation, venue size, and cost implications, you can plan a wedding party that's perfect for you.
Share this story