How many attendants should be attending?

J. dropped me a line recently, as she and her intended are currently in the processes of deciding how large (or small) their wedding party will be.

My fiancĂ© and I are planning our wedding for next summer. We have selected a tiny resort island as the venue for our big day. The venue is idyllic and suits our tastes perfectly. The only drawback is that the restaurant only accommodates 65, so we’ve decided to keep it small. I was wondering though…for a wedding that size, what size wedding party is appropriate? I was thinking no more than 6; two bridesmaids, two groomsmen, the maid of honor and best man. Your expert advice will be appreciated.

Good question — and one I haven’t spent a lot of time pondering as I myself had a small wedding party, with two maids, two men, and one super cute flower girl. How many people you and your intended choose to have at your side when you say your I dos is first and foremost a matter of comfort and taste. If you each have three close friends and family members you love dearly, there is no reason to scramble for more attendants or leave anyone out. That’s usually how cousins, coworkers, and confused childhood pals end up standing at the altar, and sisters, best friends, and so on end up in tears.


The general rule states that a larger and more formal fĂȘte will feature a greater number of attendants. Bigger can be better when you’re marrying in a cathedral because there is so much space to fill. And, naturally, the reverse is also typically true. A smaller, less formal nuptial celebration usually means fewer bridesmaids and groomsmen.

For a wedding like yours, which will be relatively small and possibly even slightly beachy, three attendants on either side is indeed appropriate and auspicious as well if you happen to have three bosom buddies or three sisters. If, however, you have a duo and just can’t decide who your third should be, don’t hesitate to scale back to two on each side or go with an uneven number. Also, before you make up your mind, take the size of your space into consideration — everyone in your wedding party will be vastly more pleased to stand at your side when they have plenty of room to breathe during the ceremony.

I should know! I was chosen to me MOH at a good friend’s wedding, and we were all squished into this tiny little corner right on the edge of a hillside. I spent the whole of the ceremony fighting gravity and praying that I would not topple over into a ravine. I wonder how many other bridesmaids have participated in similarly perilous weddings and lived to tell the tale.

2 Responses to “How many attendants should be attending?”

  1. raincoaster says:

    A friend of mine planned a ceremony halfway up a mountain trail…a FORMAL ceremony. She was talking about changing into the dress behind a screen of mountain sumac. Only when all of her bridesmaids refused but me (and I said I’d be wearing my gore-tex, hiking boots, and ropes) did she relent.