By Your Side

By Kristen Castillo

January 31, 2017 5 min read

After the initial excitement of your engagement, everyone will have lots of questions. Did you choose a wedding date? And what's your venue? Those are big questions, but you still have more decisions to make, including how many people to have in your wedding party.

Big or small? Do you have to have an even number of attendants? What's the etiquette?

"There is no magic number to determine the size of your wedding party," says wedding planner Lauren Chitwood, owner of Lauren Chitwood Events, who has been coordinating weddings for over a decade. "Bridal party selections mostly depend on relationships and the pace and feel that the clients want for their wedding day."

You need to discuss what each of you has in mind for the number of attendants and make sure there are not hurt feelings.

*Size Doesn't Matter

Every wedding is different and there's no formula for assembling your bridesmaids, groomsmen and other attendants.

"What is best is what you and your fiance will enjoy," says Viva Max Kaley, wedding planner and creator of Viva Max Weddings. "If you like having lots of friends around you, then a big party is right for you. If you prefer a more quiet morning or don't want to involve too many people on your day, then keeping the numbers low might make more sense."

*Cutting Down

It's often stressful to choose wedding attendants, but it's even more nerve-wracking if you have lots of close friends and family who want to be included in your wedding party.

You think it's tough cutting your guest list, but what do you do when you need to cut your wedding party? Who stays? Who goes?

"Often when groups of friends balloon in size, and clients experience hesitations, I encourage my brides and grooms to keep it simple and just include siblings and family," says Chitwood. "It's an easy way to draw a line without hurting feelings."

*Even-Steven?

Wedding parties don't necessarily need to be balanced, such as six groomsmen and six bridesmaids. Instead, couples are choosing to focus on including the people most important to them by their side.

Whether the number of attendants is odd or even doesn't matter and neither does gender.

Co-ed wedding parties are gaining popularity.

"If you want your closest friends and family by your side, choose the people who will be most helpful and bring you joy on your wedding day, no matter their gender," says Kaley. "If you prefer the ladies on one side and the guys on the other, that is fine, too. Just know you should do what is right for you and your besties."

*Destination I Do

Your wedding party size will likely be significantly smaller if you get married on location.

"We advise brides to limit to one or two members per side to avoid have half of your attendees being members of the wedding party," says Sara Locke of BookBetterTravel.com, explaining a typical destination wedding has an intimate guest list, often between 20 to 60 guests.

*Bridal Party Budget

Being a groomsman or bridesmaid is a fun and exciting honor, but it can also be expensive. Before you invite people to be members of your wedding party, consider whether you can afford to have a large crew and whether each individual can afford it.

Here's why: The more members of your wedding party, the pricier it'll be. You'll have to buy boutonnieres and bouquets, and thank-you gifts, for each of them, along with covering their expenses for the rehearsal dinner.

There's financial strain on the attendants, too, such as paying for specific wedding attire, hair and makeup, and travel expenses.

"You can have your besties around without having them walk down the aisle," says Kaley.

If budget is a concern, invite your friends as guests and keep your wedding party small.

"Your wedding should be a fun time for all, and not too much of a financial stressor," says Kaley. "Be realistic and respectful of your friends' financial pressures and keep it in mind when finalizing your wedding party numbers."

Kristen Castillo is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. An

editor and writer for wedding magazines, she's written hundreds of wedding articles, as well as an e-book, "Weddings on a Dime."

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