Weddings Without a Bridal Party: The Complete Guide

Michael Bold
Written by Michael Bold · Posted in Advice Last Updated April 12, 2023 · minute read
In This Article

    As you’ll no doubt know, having a bridal party is just part of a wedding, right? Well, not for everyone. 

    Having a wedding without a bridal party is becoming an increasingly popular choice for many couples.

    bridal party post for wedding photo

    Weddings Without a Bridal Party

    Various factors will influence your decision but some may be out of your control. Maybe you’ve decided to elope? Or have your wedding overseas? Maybe you just don’t like the thought of choosing who should and shouldn’t make the cut from your large group of friends.

    Whatever your reasons, we’re discussing them all in this article. We’re going to take you through the pros and cons of having a bridal party. We’ll also advise you on how you can make your friends still feel special even if you forgo the traditional bridesmaids and groomsmen path. 

    We’ve seen our fair share of weddings with and without bridal parties at the 1000+ weddings we’ve photographed. We feel we’re well placed to advise you about what you should consider if this is the way you’re thinking of going for your big day.

    So let’s get into it!

    What is a bridal party?

    First things first let’s get you up to speed on what the bridal party actually is. It is usually a group of individuals that the two people getting married choose and assign certain roles. 

    You’ve got your classic maid of honor and best man. These are usually the super close friends or family of the bride and groom. 

    Next in the lineup are the bridesmaids and groomsmen as well as the ushers. 

    A flower girl and ring bearer may also be chosen. These are usually young children who are there to look super cute in their suits and dress and make everyone say “aww” as they walk down the aisle. 

    Obviously, each couple is unique so the number of people they have as part of their bridal party differs. For example, at weddings we’ve photographed over the years we’ve seen just one best man and one maid of honor. On the other hand, we’ve seen ten groomsmen and ten bridesmaids. 

    It really comes down to each couple’s own preferences. 

    Related Reading: Best Number of Groomsmen

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    Problems with Weddings that have a Bridal Party

    Extra costs associated with the bridal party

    Depending on who is paying for your wedding a bridal party may increase your costs. 

    Maybe you’re lucky enough that your parents are paying for your wedding. However, if you as a couple have decided to pay for your bridesmaids and groomsmen’s attire that’s one hefty bill that you could maybe do without. 

    Equally, if you have a bridal party you might want to buy them a gift as a token of your gratitude. Again this is something that needs to be factored into the budget of your wedding.

    Potential for Conflict

    A reason why some couples choose to have a wedding without a bridal party is the potential for arguments. Whilst you might get along brilliantly with all your besties, Tina and Charlene might have some unresolved conflict.

    At the same time whenever a large group of people is together there’s always the potential for differences of opinion. Say for example you’ve asked your bridesmaids to wear a certain color. 

    Maddy might love the blush pink dresses you’ve picked whereas Stacey loathes the color. The more people you add to the mix the more likely this is to happen. 

    Do you want that added stress in the build-up to your special day?

    You Might Hurt People’s Feelings

    Deciding who is and isn’t involved in the bridal party is a difficult decision. 

    Perhaps you’ve got a large group of close friends or family but don’t think it’s appropriate to involve them all in the bridal party.

    Well, some people are going to get left out. Ultimately this could result in you unintentionally hurting someone’s feelings. 

    Your friend from middle school might expect to be one of your bridesmaids but you’ve chosen Karen who you went to University instead. 

    Problems with Weddings Without a Bridal Party

    Processional Length

    Something you may see as a problem is the length of the processional without a bridal party. 

    At a traditional wedding, the whole bridal party walks down the aisle before the bride and her father. If you’re not having a bridal party you might need to choose a song that’s much quicker or walk super slow for your entrance.  

    Some couples might see this as a bonus. It gets it out of the way but also shines the spotlight directly on them. 

    On the other hand, a shy bride might like the fact that others are doing the aisle walk with her.

    Who’s Going to Hold the Bride’s Bouquet?

    When the bride gets to the end of the aisle she usually offloads her bouquet to one of her bridesmaids. They’ll usually hang on to this throughout the ceremony. This allows the bride to have a free pair of hands for the ring exchange and any hand-holding with her partner. 

    The solution is obviously to place this on the signing table or pass it to someone in the front row to take care of. If you do go for the latter it might be best to let them know in advance. 

    Equally, be careful who you select to hold it as it might look a little worse for wear if you entrust this to a youngster. 

    At the same time, it might look odd if the father of the bride is holding a bouquet in all the wedding photos.

    Who’s Going to Safeguard the Rings?

    Rings are precious cargo and are usually entrusted to the best man or ring bearer. 

    This role is usually taken by someone that the groom trusts with their life and has chosen them for that reason.

    You could ask whoever is leading your ceremony to look after the rings but there’s less spectacle with that. 

    There’s also no possibility of your best man pretending he’s lost the rings only to discover them and have your ceremony crowd in stitches.

    Fewer Photo Opportunities with Your Besties

    We’re speaking from experience here having shot over 1000 weddings. Photos with the bridal party can be some of the best and the most fun. 

    Equally, snapping your closest friends standing by your side throughout the ceremony makes for great photos. 

    Without a bridal party, you might also forgo speeches. These are a great chance for a photographer to get natural reactions from those closest to the happy couple.

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    Benefits of Having a Bridal Party

    While there are negatives to weddings with or without a bridal party there are also some positives to having one.

    Additional emotional support

    The biggest benefit in our opinion of having a bridal party is the emotional support they can offer.

    Not only can they support you on the day but also if you’re having any pre-wedding meltdowns. Having your bridal party just a phone call or text away can be a game changer in helping you to calm down and de-stress.

    Perhaps you’ve left your wedding shoes at home and need someone to calm you down and offer a solution. The bridesmaids can calm you down whilst one of the groomsmen hurries down the freeway to collect your treasured shoes.

    You’ll make your closest people feel special

    It should be seen as a real honor to be asked to be part of the bridal party. You’re showing your friend or family member that they mean the world to you. 

    That display of love won’t go unnoticed and will make them feel a million dollars. 

    By making them part of the bridal party you also allow them to share with the world what you mean to them. Whether that’s by giving a speech or just standing with you at the top of the aisle as you say “I do”.

    Many hands make light work

    It’s a saying that especially rings true for weddings. There’s a lot that goes into creating the perfect wedding and being able to spread the load definitely helps. 

    You can task members of your bridal party with more menial jobs such as DIY table favors or attending to certain tasks. 

    At the same time just having more people surround you on your big day might make the day go a whole lot smoother. Vendors can reach out to members of the bridal party without going through you. You’ll have enough on your plate.

    A great example is how we would ask the groomsmen and ushers to help organize group photos when photographing weddings. Without them, we’d either have to get the parents involved or ask the couple themselves which never felt right.

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    How to include friends in a wedding without a bridal party

    So, you’re not going down the traditional route of having a bridal party but still want to involve your friends? Well alrighty then! Let’s look at some alternatives and other things you can do to make them feel involved.

    A special night

    Something you could think about doing with your friends before the wedding is a meal or night out. 

    This allows you to show your gratitude towards them and will make them feel special. If you wanted you could even use this opportunity to allow your friends to make speeches. It’s entirely up to you. 

    But it does make it less formal of an occasion and there will be less pressure for them to get it right. This is something you could offer to pay for as well and no one ever turns down a free meal do they?!

    Ask them to help you get ready

    Just because you’re not having a bridal party it doesn’t mean you can’t ask friends to help you get ready in the morning. 

    Whether you’re the bride and need some help getting into your dress or the groom who needs assistance with his bowtie. Spoiler alert: the groom always needs help with his bowtie. Hint, youtube is a great resource! You’re welcome.

    Help from friends will always be appreciated on the morning of your wedding and the only thing missing is their formal titles.

    Make your friends ushers

    Ushers can undertake a valuable job at weddings in helping guests find their seats. This role doesn’t always come with as much responsibility as others in the bridal party. 

    For this reason, it’s something you could consider assigning and then not have groomsmen and bridesmaids. 

    You don’t even need to call them your ushers, you could just ask for volunteers to help with seating your guests for the ceremony.

    Ask them to do a reading during your ceremony

    Involving some of your close friends by asking them to do a reading can be a great way to honor them. 

    It shows everyone that they’re one of your closest friends and gives them a role in your wedding. 

    If you’re not having a bridal party this can be an awesome way to make them feel involved.

    Outfit selection

    It’s traditional for the bridesmaids and grooms to wear matching outfits. However, if you’re not having a bridal party that won’t be something you’ll need to consider. 

    On the other hand, you could ask your closest friends to wear clothing that has matching elements. Rather than full-on matching dresses, they wear ones that have a similar theme, flowery and summery or muted or pastel. Whatever you like.

    Equally, you could still issue your friends with corsages and boutonnieres to distinguish them from your other guests.

    Make sure to get group photos

    Just because you’re not having a traditional bridal party doesn’t mean you can’t get cracking photos. 

    We’ve photographed loads of weddings without bridal parties and the couple still got photos with their nearest and dearest.

    Just think about the groups of people you want to have photos with ahead of time. 

    Maybe you want photos of all your high school friends or the soccer team. Whatever you want, make sure to communicate it with your photographer. They’ll be more than happy to oblige.

    Shout them out

    If you’re not having a bridal party you might also be forgoing the traditional wedding speeches. 

    However, that doesn’t stop you from raving about your friends on your wedding website or in any social media posts. 

    At the same time, you could ask whoever leads your ceremony to read out their names during the ceremony to give special thanks.

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    What type of weddings are best without a bridal party?

    There are certain types of weddings that lend themselves better to being without a bridal party. They’re usually less formal soirees that fit with the more laid-back and chill vibe that some couples go for.

    Destination weddings

    One of the problems with a destination wedding is that you’re asking a lot of your guests to get there. For that reason, you could ask someone to be a part of your bridal party and then they might not be able to make it for whatever reason. Huge bummer! 

    We found that destination weddings tended to have less of a bridal party. Instead close friends would be tasked with very few roles and the weddings would be much more chilled than traditional ones.

    There would usually be fewer guests so organizing group photos would be much easier. 

    We have put together an article providing advice and guidance on everything about destination weddings. Worth a read if a destination wedding interests you.

    Elopements

    Couples that want the ultimate stripped-back wedding will usually go for an elopement. 

    This is usually just the couple and an officiant. Maybe a couple of witnesses were thrown in. It’s a great way to get married without all the traditional elements of a normal wedding.

    An elopement lends itself perfectly to being one without a bridal party. They’re usually very informal and suit couples who either don’t want a big fuss or just have a close-knit set of friends.

    Intimate weddings

    In a similar vein to elopements, an intimate wedding is perfect for not having a bridal party. 

    Whilst elopements tend to be in faraway destinations an intimate wedding can happen anywhere. 

    For whatever reason you might just want to invite fewer people to your wedding. Instead, perhaps you’re inviting those people who are 100% dear to your heart.

    Or there might be budgetary constraints that may spiral if you were to invite hundreds of people to your wedding. 

    At the same time, you just might not like loads of people staring at you as you say “I do”. Whatever your reasoning, an intimate wedding might be the perfect option.

    Worth A Read: How many wedding guests should I invite?

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    FAQs about weddings without a bridal party

    Is it rude not to have a bridal party?

    We understand that this might be a question racing around in your head. However, it needn’t be. Ultimately this is your day and if you don’t want a bridal party then that’s up to you.

    As long as you explain your reasoning to anyone that might ask they shouldn’t have an issue with it.

    Can I still have a bachelorette party?

    Errr yeah, you can! 

    Just because you’re not dishing out specific roles for your wedding day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a good time beforehand. You can still have one wild night with your nearest and dearest. 

    At the same time, you might be the kind of couple who’d prefer to combine you and your partner’s friends. 

    Instead of a separate bachelor and bachelorette party just have one that everyone is invited to. Within reason of course.

    Can I still have a good time without one?

    Yes! The happiness you’ll feel at your wedding won’t be determined by whether or not you have a bridal party. Instead, it will allow you as a couple to focus on each other and not worry about formalities.

    If you’ve invited your friends anyway then it shouldn’t make much difference and you’ll never know any different anyway. You’re only supposed to get married once so you’ll have nothing to compare it to!

    Conclusion

    Like a lot of things involved in the planning of a wedding, there are decisions that need to be made. If you’ve decided you want your wedding to be bridal party free then that’s fine by us!

    Each couple is different. Whilst a wedding without a bridal party might be the perfect option for an intimate wedding it might be less so for a traditional vibe. It all comes down to personal preference.

    We hope our post has helped you to decide what’s best for you and your big day. 

    As we’ve said we’ve been to thousands of weddings over the years. Ones with bridal parties and those without. At both types of weddings, we know that the couple has made the right decision for them. 

    At the end of the day, they’ve all had a great time celebrating their love for one another. Which is the most important thing!