There comes a time in every bride’s wedding planning, when she asks the all-important question ‘do I need bridesmaids at my wedding?’

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For some brides it’s a no-brainer, for other’s it’s a quandary. Adding to your costs, but also to the memories of the day, the decision to say ‘I do’ is an entirely personal one.

As a trusted wedding photographer with 15 years of experience, I’ve seen it all. From intimate micro-weddings, to large family celebrations, each with their own charm and personal touches to make it unique to the couple.


If you’re one of the newly engaged brides in the throes of wedding planning, here’s a few pointers to help you decide on whether bridesmaids should be in, or out for your big day!

The Case for Bridesmaids

Sure, it might be tradition, but for many brides-to-be having bridesmaids is more than just a photo opportunity – it’s a chance for female bonding on a mass scale.

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Although there are no hard and fast rules, research suggests that a typical bride has between four and five maids in her party. This is set to grow with the American trend for larger bridal parties seeping into our culture. However, before you commit to the decision, it’s worth doing the maths, as the average bridesmaid dress alone costs £114.


However, there are lots of benefits of having Bridesmaids – here’s five good reasons to take the plunge:


  • #Girlpower; there’s nothing quite like having a gaggle of ‘sisters’ behind you on your big day. They’re the people who have held you together all your life, so why stop now? If you take comfort in the company of your close girlfriends, there’s no greater way to demonstrate it.


  • Bonding: having a bridal party means lots of excuses for girlie get-together’s, prosecco and chick flicks. Also, think of the hen night – having a bridal party means you don’t have to plan it yourself, with your closest friends on organising overdrive. Aren’t you lucky!?


  • Role: if you want to involve your friends on the big day, then inviting someone to be your bridesmaid is a great honour and touching tribute. Just be mindful that not all bridesmaids are created equally – some may find it a chore, while others will revel in the responsibility. Plan your group with care and consideration.


  • Snap! there’s no doubting that bridesmaids add a pop of colour to your all-important wedding photography. It’s also a great memory to look back on in years to come, being one of the top photos requested for wedding photographers.


  • Practicality: walking down the aisle can be an overwhelming experience with all eyes on you. Having a friend to calm your nerves, untuck your dress and reapply your lippy can offer reassurance throughout the day. If you want to keep it low key, you can just assign a Maid-of-Honour without a larger bridal party in tow.


Make Your Own Tradition

One of the biggest changes in weddings over the years is a step away from tradition. Many modern couples today prefer to add their own personal touches to proceedings, rather than follow a prescribed order that is meaningless to them.

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Both liberating, refreshing and uber-modern, ditching bridesmaids in favour of a more considered affair, is more popular than you might think; here’s why:


  • Good vibes only: let’s be honest, not everyone’s into endless pings from WhatsApp bridal party groups, girlie night’s in and screaming at Bridget Jones movies. If the thought of ‘girlification’ fills you with horror not honour, then having bridesmaids is not for you, and that’s ok!


  • DIY; if you’re one of the many couples looking to put your personal stamp on the big day, be it modern wedding photography or bespoke entertainment, then it’s perfectly fine to rethink bridesmaids and groomsmen. If they fit into your day then great, but if it feels unnatural, there’s no need to shoehorn them in.

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  • Age; bridesmaids come in every shape and size, and there’s no reason for age to preclude them from your party. However, it’s not uncommon for ‘older’ friends to feel uncomfortable at the thought of being a If this is the case with your friends, or if you’d rather spare them the embarrassment of feeling out of place, it’s perfectly fine to have a bridesmaid-free party.



  • Party like it’s 1999: A common reason for many couples to forgo certain traditions like bridesmaids and groomsmen, is because they want their friends to enjoy the day. There’s a responsibility and role to perform when part of a wedding party, that prevents guests from being able to ‘let go’ and enjoy the day as it unfolds. If early on in your wedding planning you decide that your big day is all about throwing a big party for the people you care most about, you know what to do…

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  • Micro weddings: a big wedding trend that has emerged in the decade is the move towards ‘micro weddings’. Classified as parties of 50 guests or less, these are often intimate affairs reserved for your nearest and dearest only. With space at a premium, there’s just enough room for wedding photographers and live music, let alone other ‘nice to have’. Luckily, if you do decide to scale back on your party, it’s the perfect opportunity to explain to your friends that it’s in keeping with the micro wedding theme. This can be a tactical way of doing things your way, without upsetting high maintenance friends (we all have them!)

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  • Keeping down wedding costs: your big day is likely to be the most extravagant day of your life, with the average wedding in excess of £24,000. There are some areas that are essential and shouldn’t be scaled back on, such as; the wedding breakfast, the wedding photographer and your honeymoon. Each of these essential for your enjoyment and memories. However, not having bridesmaids can save you hundreds if not thousands. Some of the typical costs include; hair and make-up, nails, shoes, dresses, shawls, and a thank-you gift. All things considered, this could be anything from £500 to £2,000 for four bridesmaids, think of the savings!


  • Ditch the drama: If you’ve watched the film Bridesmaids, you’ll be all too aware of the fructuous relationships that emerge in bridal parties. Save yourself the drama and stress of it all and side-line the entourage. From having to find a dress and colour that everyone agrees on, to dealing with diva demands, think of it as one less thing to worry about.

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In Summary

The beauty of a wedding is that each celebration is unique to the couple. There is no wrong or right way of doing things, only the ‘couples’ way, since it’s their party after all.

Bridesmaids aside, try not to lose sight of what’s most important – and that’s a celebration fitting for the newlyweds, that can be enjoyed on the day and remembered fondly in the years to come.

Gary is a leading wedding photographer in Aylesbury covering weddings throughout the UK and Europe.