Many couples who tie the knot opt to have a wedding party standing by their side. From bridesmaids and bridesmen to groomsmen and groomswomen, these honorary guests provide support to brides and grooms as they walk down the aisle, get ready for the big day, and help plan extra celebrations like bridal showers and bachelor parties. They don special attire on the wedding day and are usually included in many of your wedding portraits as well. While there are definitely benefits of having your close friends and family members in these special roles, many couples recently are reconsidering having a large wedding party and are doing away with the tradition altogether.
"I have noticed that my clients who choose to forego bridal parties tend to feel more relaxed during the planning process, in the weeks leading up to the wedding, and on the actual day itself," shares wedding planner KC Cloud. "Taking away having to deal with so many people with varying expectations, personalities, and needs definitely lets couples feel more relaxed during the process."
Meet the Expert
- KC Cloud is a wedding planner and founder of KC Cloud Events.
- Samantha Jacobs is a bride getting married in March 2024.
- Nicole Aliloupour is a September 2023 bride.
- Ellen Ross is a wedding photographer and owner of The Light + Color.
Considering whether or not to have a wedding party for your upcoming nuptials? We chatted with planners for their insight, as well as real brides who decided to go against tradition.
Reasons to Not Have a Wedding Party
While there are many benefits to having a wedding party, you should weigh those with the perks of not having one, too. First, consider if a wedding party factors into your budget and vision for the day. "Not only does it save on floral expenses like additional bouquets and boutonnieres as well as potential hair and makeup costs, but having your closest friends attend as guests allows them to loosen up more as they aren't having to rent or buy a specific outfit or worry about the perceived duties that come with being in the bridal party," shares Cloud. "It allows for a more communal feeling of the entire wedding and puts the focus solely on the couple and their families."
Creating a better experience for all guests is why bride-to-be Nicole Aliloupour opted out of having bridesmaids. "We are having an intimate destination wedding and were intentional about inviting only our closest family and friends," she shares. "By not having a bridal party, we feel like we’ll be able to focus on each other and be more present with all of our guests during the wedding."
Being a wedding party member also comes with quite a few time and financial obligations. That's part of the reason why Samantha Jacobs, who will be getting married in Los Angeles in 2024, decided to not have bridesmaids. "I want to honor my friends and loved ones at my wedding, but so many bridesmaids duties and traditions require a huge amount of time, money, and emotional labor," she says. "It’s also very political to choose who will be in your party, and people are bound to feel left out."
Alternatives to Wedding Parties
While couples may opt out of having larger wedding parties, there are some fun alternatives to still make your friends feel like an integral part of the celebration. To create a communal feeling amongst guests, photographer Ellen Ross of The Light + Color decided to have a unique dress code that made everyone feel like part of a wedding party. "I just told all women and men if they wanted at the wedding to wear florals," she shares. "The invitation just said 'wear flowers!'"
Another idea is to downsize a traditional wedding party and choose only a maid of honor and best man. Aliloupour and her fiancé decided to opt out of a wedding party and each have one person by their side to help with planning and provide day-of support.
Couples also can still host bachelor or bachelorette parties with groups of friends and have them involved with the morning-of activities. "My personal preference is to still have a bachelorette and still have friends around me the morning of the wedding, but allow people to wear what they want and take time back at the actual wedding," notes Jacobs. "It’s been a relieving decision, and many of my would-have-been bridesmaids appreciate it." Cloud says she has even seen couples seat close friends alongside them at the head table, even if they aren't in a wedding party. After all, you want to have your nearest and dearest with you throughout your big day.