“I got engaged two months ago, and we’ve finally started to plan our wedding in earnest. I’m clear on most of the decisions we have to make, but I’m honestly SO stuck on the bridesmaid question. I definitely want bridesmaids, but how many is too many? If I ask all of my best friends plus family and cousins and all that jazz, I’m at 14. My fiancé’s group is coming in around 10. That’s a whopping 24 extra people in photos and standing up with us…is that crazy? Help me make this decision!”
Ah, yes, the age-old question: How many bridesmaids is too many? We assumed lots of people would have a hot take on this, so we went straight to our PureWow Instagram audience and polled our followers…
…And the responses varied greatly. There were the outliers: Any bridesmaid is one too many, while another commented there was, in fact, “no limit.” But the average response was clear as day: 7.17 bridesmaids. So, if you’re making this decision based on statistical significance, 0.17 bridesmaids beyond seven is the tipping point.
But as much as we love our readers, we have a feeling you’re not going to make this decision based solely on crowdsourcing. Fear not, we’ve brought in some authorities to help us round out an answer for you.
The Professional Bridesmaid’s Take
Who better to ask this question than a bona fide professional bridesmaid? Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and Finally the Bride, has made a career of being a bridesmaid—seriously, people hire Glantz to join their bridal party and help plan, assist and support the bride.
Based on her experience, Glantz pointed us to the “elevator trick.” It’s where you think about who you would actually want to be stuck in an elevator with, because “when you’re nervous, hungry and need some good vibes around you,” Glantz says, “those are the people who should be your bridesmaids. If that’s ten people, fine. If it’s five people, great.” It’s not about the number, but about the group of people who make you feel safe and happy.
Still, Glantz warns against the “Well, I was their bridesmaid” invitation. Just because someone has you in their party does not mean you have to have them in yours. But if you continue to land in that reciprocal territory, take your mind back to the elevator. Like, what if you’re stuck in there for days? Makes ya think, huh?
The Etiquette Coach’s Take
OK, but what about the manners of the situation? We spoke with etiquette expert Myka Meier, author of Modern Etiquette Made Easy, who agreed with Glantz that there really aren’t any rules that limit the size of a bridal party. She did, however, think up an equation to keep the size of the party manageable: Your number of bridesmaids should be no more than twice the number of groomsmen. With four groomsmen, your max would be eight bridesmaids, “This way, each groomsman would be escorting two bridesmaids, one on each arm, which is perfectly fine.” And if the group is growing out of control, Meier suggests honoring your near and dear by giving them ceremony roles, like readings or candle lightings.
The Wedding Planner’s Take
Jennifer Brisman, a New York wedding planner, gets this question a lot. Here’s the exercise she gives her clients: “I tell them to think about who is really part of this journey—beyond your spouse, of course.” Per Brisman, some people in our lives are fun and fabulous, but others are integral to who we become and want to be. “Surround yourself with a circle of protection and love that you expect will still be there 15 years down the line.” Avoid thinking about your friends in a hierarchy, she stresses, because that can get toxic and dramatic. And as we all know, toxic drama is the last thing anyone wants on their wedding day. And remember: Your fun and fabulous friends will probably be more fun and fabulous if they save their energy for the dance floor.
While there is no bridal party minimum or maximum—zero is totally fine and 49 is cool too (if you love solving logistical nightmares)—our experts and audience both seem to be saying that there is probably a limit on what you, the bride, can handle. For one bride, the more the merrier. For another, managing more than one person besides themselves that day is too much. You have to decide if wrangling 14 maids plus your fiancé’s ten groomsmen is worth it. Do you love the chaotic energy of a big, fun-loving group? Or are you concerned the wild dynamic could make things toxic? Do you have any high-maintenance friends who will make getting ready a headache? Or are all of your buds like the little chirping birds and mice who help Cinderella get dressed?
When all else fails, go back to the elevator. Who would you want in there ’til death do you part?