What's a couple to do when one person wants more (or fewer) wedding party members than the other? Well, for one, stop panicking and start looking at the positives. You'll have all the people you adore by your side on your big day, and you don't have to feel pressured to add or subtract people simply to make your numbers match.
"The old rules for weddings are out, and weddings should be the way the couples want them to be," says Jackie Chaban, owner of About Joy Events in San Francisco. There are a number of instances in which one person may want to ask more of their loved ones to join their wedding party, like if they have a lot of siblings, want to have more than one maid of honor or best man, or simply have a larger circle of close friends.
Meet the Expert
- Jackie Chaban is the owner of About Joy Events, a full-service wedding planning company in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Samantha Spector is the founder of SaloonBox, a craft cocktail kit subscription service, and was previously the owner of Milk & Honey Special Events, an event planning firm that serviced the San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country.
Thankfully, there are countless ways to get creative with the ceremony processional and recessional, the wedding photographs, and other aspects of the celebration where bridal party members are front and center. For couples with an uneven wedding party, here's how to strike the perfect balance seamlessly.
Uneven Bridal Party Etiquette
How Should the Wedding Party Members Walk Down the Aisle?
If the processional and recessional has you stressed out, relax; you've got a few options. One is to have each groomsman walk with two bridesmaids (or vice versa if there are more groomsmen), advises Samantha Spector, a decade-long event planner. Of course, you can adjust how many people in your wedding party need to double-up based on your particular numbers.
Plan on having your pooch walk down the aisle? If there's only a difference of one attendant, match up the dog lover in the bigger group with your pup.
You may have to get more creative if the groups are more lopsided. "If the party is something like 10 bridesmaids and two groomsmen, then my suggestion would be to have them enter separately—groomsmen from the side and the bridesmaids down the aisle," says Chaban.
Naturally, there is always the option to have each bridal party member walk down the aisle individually. "It is perfectly fine to have people enter by themselves, but at a quicker pace," says Chaban.
How Should We Pose for Photographs?
You may be worried about how an uneven bridal party will look in photos, but fortunately, there are solutions. "There are so many ways to pose, and a good photographer can make any photo shine," says Chaban.
She suggests that the wedding party forms a semi-circle around the couple instead of the traditional "sides." Similarly, you could blend them together in couples or groups of three and have them stand on both sides of the couple instead of having bridesmaids on the left and groomsmen on the right.
If you want to uphold the tradition of splitting the bridesmaids and groomsmen in photos, have them stand in a V-shape, spaced so that each group appears even. This shape will conceal the spaces between the attendants. For something super unique, choose candid pictures in motion, where everyone is mixed up and there's less focus on position.
Separate your uneven bridal party by having them pose in rows instead of sides. Have the fuller party stand in the back while the smaller party sits on chairs in the front, with the couple in the middle.
How Should the Wedding Party Stand at the Altar?
As always, the wedding party members should stand in order of importance, with the best man and maid/matron of honor closest to the couple. For an uneven party, if it looks too lopsided, Chaban suggests just having the best man and the maid/matron of honor stand beside the couple while the rest of the wedding party takes a seat in the front row. Below, we have a few more suggestions for how your uneven bridal party should stand at the altar.
Uneven Wedding Party Tips
Get Creative With Spacing
Trick the camera and your guests into thinking your numbers are actually even by using space to your advantage. During the ceremony, Spector suggests having the side with fewer attendants spread out, creating extra space in between each person, while the side with more attendants stands closer together. "This would make each side a similar length," she explains.
Mix It Up
Make things symmetrical, and unique at that, by mixing the bridesmaids and groomsmen up on both sides, recommends Spector. "As far as photos go, unless there is just a difference of one or two attendants, this approach is also a good idea," she says. This works best if the total number of attendants comes out even (for example, seven bridesmaids to three groomsmen).
Have Them All Stand on One Side
This idea definitely works best for wedding parties where there's a very noticeable difference between the number of bridesmaids versus the number of groomsmen. You can mix up the groomsmen and bridesmaids for less of a contrast, or, for some distinction, have them stand on the same side of the altar, but place the 'maids and the 'men together.