Do I need bridesmaids? 4 reasons to have a wedding without a bridal party

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Original photo by Nick Nguyen, remixed by CC license.
Original photo by Nick Nguyen, remixed by CC license.

This question comes up again and again from engaged couples: do I need bridesmaids? Am I weird if I don't have bridesmaids? Is it mean that I don't even WANT bridesmaids? Even more generally, do I need to have wedding attendants at all?

The answer is nope: you do not need bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower children, flower grandmas, ring boys, ring bears, or any other wedding attendants on your wedding day. Here are four reasons why not having bridesmaids is not only just fine — it can be awesome!

1. You don't need their help

Now, I don't mean that you don't need help with your wedding — I mean that you don't need BRIDESMAIDS to have helpers.

One of the common reasons why people choose to have bridesmaids is because they want help with their wedding. They want a crack team of DIY manual labor. They want someone to hold their bouquet. They want someone to go shopping with.

Well, here's the deal with that: bridesmaids are not henchmen.

If you need help with your wedding, you need to ask explicitly for specific kinds of help… and you don't need to have bridesmaids to get that help.

2. They might not help anyway

Sure, bridesmaids might help you with your wedding… but they also might not have the time or interest.

You can skip having bridesmaids and just make explicit requests (“Do you want to come over and have pizza and do a wedding invitation assembly line while we watch old rom coms?”) instead of a vague one (“I want you to be a part of my wedding in ways that may or may not involve a special dress, helping me do things, organizing wedding showers, and maybe other things”).

If you need help, ask for help. Don't confuse having bridesmaids with having help.

Brief aside: you may not need bridesmaids, but you may need wedding jewelry you can try on at home from our sponsors GEMIST!

3. Avoid drama

Oh lordy, if I had a dollar for every email I've gotten from readers about bridesmaid drama, I would be typing this from my gilded chair with a designer cat on my lap.

Now, I'm not saying everyone is doomed to bridesmaid conflict, but we all know that female friendships can be complex, and wedding planning is stressful, and there are a million and one things that can go wrong… You asked someone to be a bridesmaid when you were wasted and then realized you barely know them! You asked this person to be your bridesmaid, and that person got offended that you didn't ask them! Someone agreed to be your bridesmaid and then got side-blinded by a life crisis and has to drop out.

It sucks, and wedding planning can be challenging enough without having to Google “how to fire a bridesmaid.”

4. You don't need them for pictures

We've featured tons of weddings without a bridal party and you know what? They're all gorgeous.

Do not plan a wedding based on how you want things to look on Instagram or Pinterest.

I'll take that even farther and say don't plan your LIFE based on how you want things to look online — it's a recipe for frustration and disappointment.

Want a few examples?

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Andrea & Angelo‘s rock ‘n' roll, leopard-print, Italian feast wedding
Photo Session
Kat & Scott‘s gamer geek gathering (with a side of wedding)
Untitled
Dawn & Benjamin‘s off-the-grid forest handfasting

If you need more proof that you do NOT need bridesmaids (or any other wedding attendants) at your wedding, you should check out our archive of folks who had no wedding party.

And PS: for those of you who are like “Having bridesmaids was the best decision I made”… that is awesome! This post isn't meant as an attack on those who choose to have bridesmaids — most of y'all have fabulous experiences. We just want to make sure that those who are considering not having them at all know that it's a great option, too.

Comments on Do I need bridesmaids? 4 reasons to have a wedding without a bridal party

  1. Cheers to this! FH and I are not having a bridal party. We are very low key people and just want our friends to relax and enjoy the party.

    We’re going to invite some people to get ready with us, but that’s the extent of it. My friends have already been very helpful on their own time, and it makes me feel so happy. It really simplifies things, too.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. We’re not having a bridal/grooms party either. Something about choosing friends to stand next to me but not say anything and wear the same colors felt odd in my book. Instead, I asked some friends to be “on my team” ahead of the wedding. These are people who I would go to the ends of the earth with, who are rock stars, who will absolutely listen to me gab about the wedding and want to go try on dresses together.

    Since then, “the team” has been upgraded to “the council” because I have no idea what I’m doing and their input is enormously helpful. Some of the council will sing at our wedding, some will read passages, some will probably wrangle guests, one may marry us as the officiant. It’s been a great system so far, and we’ll be sure to acknowledge them in the wedding.

  3. We had a back-and-forth about if we were to have wedding parties. I did; he didn’t.

    I really wanted to make sure my best friend, who lives in another country and I only see face-to-face every year or two, was in the wedding and knew she was the. most. important. person in my life, aside from my spouse.

    He didn’t want them for, basically, the reasons cited above.

    When it came down to it, we had my bestie and spouse’s brother for us, which worked out. We asked them to do minimal things day-of and relied on our larger community. Was the wedding party absolutely necessary? No, it completely was not. We could have managed just fine without them in an official capacity.

    I agree very much with the post in that manual labor is most certainly not a reason to have someone be in your party. I would say evaluate the why and make your decision. Then see who you would want to be in those photos, smiling alongside you, for the years and years and years you’ll be married.

    If you think you can look at the picture and say “I may not talk to them anymore (God forbid), but damn did we have a good run.” if something goes wrong, consider it. If not, I would re-evaluate. Of course, your mileage may vary.

  4. Points #1-3 definitely happened before our wedding. Looking back now, I probably could have done without the bridal party but I don’t regret our choices. I honestly didn’t expect them to help because why would they care? It isn’t their wedding, it is mine and my fiance’s responsibilities. Although, I did wish they would spend one or two afternoons before the wedding just for friend time. Oh well. I accepted the fact of what happened before the wedding but we ended up parting ways with nearly all the attendants a few years after the wedding. Friendships do change with time and life events–sometimes it gets weaker and other times stronger.

  5. We are having some of our best friends dress in each of their favorite colors and then direct body traffic and manage the event the day of. I wouldn’t have had them dress any differently at all but initially on friend had a melt down over NO WEDDING PARTY, so I compromised. Now I regret it, but nobody else seems to care, so I’m sure it will work out great. I’ve also had friends I was not counting on at all really step up, so it makes me extra glad we aren’t doing an official bridal party.

  6. “No bridal party” was one of the first decisions we made the night we got engaged. The primary reason was that my bestie lives in another country and it would have been difficult to plan around the possibility that she couldn’t make it. We briefly considered having a Maid of Honor and Best Man, but my husband doesn’t have one friend that he’s particularly closer to than the others and he felt like he couldn’t leave out his brothers without causing family drama. But there’s two of them and so my anal-retentiveness dictated that I’d need a second person — his sister, so she’s not left out. But then my brother might feel left out, so I’d need a third ‘maid and I didn’t know who I’d ask. I just foresaw it snowballing into a big anxiety attack.

    But then I realized that the tradition of a bridal party didn’t mean anything to me. I didn’t want a shower or a bachelorette party, and I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured to help me with the planning. That meant there wasn’t much for them to do except show up on the day-of and be, essentially, decorative human beings. It felt somehow wrong to ask people to spend money on a specific outfit and hair/makeup appointments for that purpose. This way, I didn’t have to worry about choosing dresses people hated or making sure everyone was at the right place at the right time. It simplified things and our siblings all said, “Oh, thank God” when they found out.

    Instead, we asked two close friends to give readings during our ceremony. Our parents and siblings helped us with some of the last-minute DIYing the day before, and I invited them to get their hair done with me if they wanted to. There’s nothing wrong with having bridesmaids if you feel like that’s an important way of honoring your relationships with those people, but cutting it out made the process a zillion times easier for us.

  7. I have bridesmaids, but before I chose them, I read this OBB article: http://offbeatbride.com/2010/09/bridesmaid-henchwoman . I thoroughly thought out my expectations and wrote a joke-y “contract” about my expectations when I asked them: they choose their own dresses while I provide accessories, they don’t have to make a toast or help with DIY, bachelorette party/shower is nice but not necessary, etc. That was nearly a year ago, I’ve kept my word, and it’s been drama-free. I’m serious; “cross my heart and hope to die,” it’s been drama-free.

  8. We’re not doing a wedding party. Neither of us really felt any need for people in matching (or non-matching but coordinated, or even uncoordinated) dresses standing up there in a line. My sister, who would definitely be my maid of honor if I had one, knows that, and will obviously be involved in the wedding anyway. Of the other three people I would have asked, one is being our day-of coordinator, and the other two reacted pretty much with “You’re not having bridesmaids, are you? I mean, I would stand up there with you, but. . .”, so I think they’re just as happy too.

    I realized that the one thing I really wanted was some photos with some of my closest friends, the sort you get with a bridal party. So I think we’re going to do some flower arranging in the morning, including making flower crowns for the people who would be bridesmaids, and then get some photos with them during the portraits. For us, that seems to be hitting the important parts while skipping the parts that none of us care about all that much.

    • Hah, I definitely got the “You’re not having bridesmaids, are you? I mean, I would stand up there with you, but. . .” from my friends. I don’t blame them, being a part of the wedding party is expensive and often stressful!

    • I really like this middle ground approach. We’re having a bridal brigade and on the day I’d like to have something (like a boutinere or floral wristlet) that designates whos part of this extra special group. Someone suggested they could all wear blue, so they’re my ‘something blue’…like it but not sold.
      We’re also planning a photobooth, so at one point or another I plan on getting photos with various groups of friends.

  9. We made the “no wedding party” decision really early; it’s been a huge relief. I’ve even had several vendors do a happy dance when I mention it!

    I had a wedding party the first time around, and it mostly added financial cost and drama. This time around, the focus is all on us and the “community support” element will come from everyone who comes out to celebrate with us. We’ll likely have a few toasts for people who want to say something, and we’ll work in roles in the ceremony for people we’d like to honor.

    We’ve had a tiny bit of push back from my future mother who really wants to see her other two kids up there with us, but I think she’ll come around pretty easily. Everyone else is just excited!

  10. I love this. We’ve been discussing this whole situation, because he doesn’t have a lot of reliable close friends, and I feel pressured to put my sister in my wedding party even though we are not very close and I know she will just stress me out the day of.

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