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Selecting who to be in your wedding party is an easy task for some, but not for others.  Deciding on how a large of a wedding party to have, unclear “rules” regarding reciprocal offers and your fiancé’s siblings, child attendants, etc.  can be very stressful.

I consulted a variety of sources to compile the information below to try to help make your selection process a little easier.

There are No Rules:

  • There is no required number. The average number is 4-6 attendants per spouse, but you may choose to have more or less.
  • It’s ok to have an uneven number. Each partner does not need to have the same number of attendees. Attendees may walk alone or in pairs/groups if they aren’t paired with an attendee from the other side.
    Just keep in mind you don’t want it to be so uneven that the attention is taken off you and your spouse and onto the extremely uneven party size.
  • You can have more than one principal attendant. This can even be helpful since they can share the responsibilities, especially if one lives out of town.
  • You can have a pregnant bridesmaid if the bridesmaid is comfortable. You just want to be mindful of her condition and limitations, ex. she may not be comfortable wearing heels or standing for long periods of time.
  • It’s ok to have attendants of the opposite sex if he/she is comfortable. Also try to make ensure any adaptations of the role are thoughtful and not mocking.


  • Size and Formality
    At a small event a small wedding party is generally more appropriate so it doesn’t outnumber the guests.
    The ceremony site may also limit the size of the party due to the space.
  • Budget
    The larger the party, the higher the costs the for the couple since they are traditionally responsible for all bouquets/boutonnieres, thank-you gifts, and accommodations for any out-of-town attendants, plus possible additional costs.

Fiancé’s Siblings

You are not required to include your fiancé’s siblings in your wedding party. However, it does provide an opportunity to get to know each other better if you don’t so already, and to strengthen your relationship.
If you don’t want to include the siblings in your wedding party, or have them stand on their own sibling’s side, you can include them in the wedding in other ways such as doing a reading.

Reciprocal Offers

If someone has asked you to be part of their wedding party you are not obligated to return the offer.

You should have people you are particularly close to standing up with you on your wedding day. You shouldn’t have someone standing with you just because you stood with them, especially if you’ve drifted apart and are not as close as you once were.

If you’re unsure about including someone in your party think about their feelings; would he/she be hurt if you don’t ask him/her, and are the hurt feelings worth not including the person.

If you think a person may be upset about not being included in your party consider explaining your choice to the person before he/she brings it up so show you are considerate of his/her feelings. Explain that due to your budget, wedding size, or whatever your reasons, you had to make a difficult decision which did leave some special people out.

Qualities to Look For

Choosing who to have stand with you at your wedding shouldn’t just be based on how long you know someone or like them.

You also want someone who is reliable, considerate, and courteous. Their role is to help you prepare for, and on, the big day. You want to ensure your attendants will do what they say they will do, and meet your reasonable needs. You don’t want someone whose focus is hitting the clubs over helping you assemble wedding invitations.

That being said, you also want people who will help you have fun. When the stresses of wedding planning gets too much they should help you let loose and relax, and to allow you to enjoy events held in your honour such as your bridal shower and bachelorette party.

Like most aspects in life, it’s all about balance.

Financial Obligations

Being an attendant in a wedding can be expensive; costs can include attire, gift, travel, and more.

Sometimes a person has to decline your offer to be in your wedding party due to their financial situation. If this happens it’s fine to be disappointed and to express your feelings, but you should also be considerate of the person’s feelings and not make them feel bad or your disapproval.

If possible, there may be other ways to include them in the wedding in a less expensive way such as a reading, being an usher, or possibly a musical performance.

Child Attendants

Some considerations to keep in mind if you wish to include children attendants:

  • Don’t pressure them – you shouldn’t make a child do something they are truly uncomfortable with
  • Make sure duties are age appropriate – a toddler is unlikely to stand at the front for the entire ceremony so consider letting him/her sit with his/her parents during the ceremony; a teenage girl is unlikely to want to wear a little frilly white dress like a flower girl, a junior bridesmaid may be a better role.
  • Ask the children/teen what they would like to do – while you may not necessarily be able to do what the child wishes, but it’s a good way to see what the child is comfortable with

When to Ask

Generally the earlier the better is a good rule to follow. While you don’t need to ask them the moment after you become engaged, you do need some time to think about your choices, it’s better to let the people know with as much time as possible so they are able to make appropriate plans in their schedules/budgets/etc.

It’s always nice to have the personal touch of asking someone in person, however, this may not always be possible so other means are acceptable in certain situations.

If an Attendant Backs Out

Sometimes an attendant has to back-out after accepting your offer of being attendant for various reasons.

If the attendant backs out a short time before the wedding it’s generally better not to try to replace him/her. It is a large amount of responsibility and costs for someone to take on at such short notice.

If the original attendant backs out early it is optional to replace or not to replace him/her. If you do decide to choose a replacement, make sure that person doesn’t feel like he/she was a “last resort” or “second best” pick.


Selecting your wedding party is an important decision to make; choosing who to have stand with you and support you as you take this big step in life shouldn’t be a decision made on a whim.

Hopefully the information provided helps with your decision making process so you select the right group of people to represent you and your spouse on your special day.