Dear ESB: How can I involve my friends without asking them to be bridesmaids?

Categories   Wedding Advice

East Side Bride answers the question that lots of you might be asking too, even if you’re not in FMW’s exact situation. As always, we love her take.

Dear East Side Bride,

I really hope you can help me out. My fiance is deployed in Afghanistan, and we will get married a few months after he returns next year. Many of his closest friends will still be serving over there on our wedding day, leaving us with two groomsmen. I had hoped to have more bridesmaids, but have decided to stick to two for balance’s sake.

Is there a way for me to involve other girl friends in the wedding that isn’t something lame like standing by the guest book or reading a Bible verse? I am not tied to wedding tradition, so out-of-the-box ideas are welcome! I always imagined these girls taking a special part in my special day and thought you might be able to offer some suggestions.

Thank you!

– Future military wife


Dear FMW,

Please please please don’t cut anyone out of your bridal party just for the sake of symmetry. It’s going to mean so much to you to have your ladies standing up there with you, giggling and beaming at you and crying (which, I warn you, may set you off — but that’s part of the joy of getting married).

Putting four or five bridesmaids opposite your fiance’s two groomsmen might even serve as a positive reminder of the friends who can’t be there. Why not list them as “groomsmen (in absentia)” in the program?


Photo by Lillian and Leonard

{you can see all of ESB’s posts on 100LC right here.}

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Taylor on Jun 28, 2011

I absolutely love the idea of putting them in the program. That means they are still a part of your ceremony and you are even honoring them for their service. I think it would be really special. Great advice once again ESB!

Kristyn on Jun 28, 2011

As a military wife planning my own "wedding" after a deployment, I decided to do exactly what ESB is suggesting. We can't have every person that we want there in person, but we are making an effort to acknowledge them as much as we can. Also, I was a grown-up flower girl at a recent wedding and it was the most fun I have ever had at a wedding. Just a thought.

Krista on Jun 28, 2011

I love that idea! We are only having immediate family in our wedding party, Do you have any out of the box ideas for my girl friends to make them feel special, too?!

betsy on Jun 28, 2011

thank you for this answer. i think it is more important to honor the people who are important in your life than to make matching sets. i hope that all these rules about symmetrical wedding parties are on the way out. make way for groomswomen! and bridesmen!

Steph @ A Life without Ice Cream on Jun 28, 2011

I love that idea! Its beautiful! Also it always looks adorable when a groomsmen walks into the hall with 2 bridesmaides on his arm.

Rob on Jun 28, 2011

Balance doesn't matter, having those you want with you is much more important. Plus, it potentially helps the odds for the groomsmen, they'll be happy about that.

Shayna on Jun 28, 2011

If you're worried about the symmetry, have one groomsman stand on each side with an equal number of bridesmaids.

Nicole on Jun 28, 2011

I had a similar situation and decided to have an odd number of bridesmaids and groomsmen and am so happy I didn't cut my girlfriends out. Our wedding photos were still wonderful and our photographer actually had a lot of fun posing two gals with 1 guy! During the ceremony a few groomsmen walked with 2 bridesmaids and it worked out just fine! You could even have 2 girls walk down the aisles together. For symmetry, consider having your ring bearer and flower girl stand on the side with the groomsmen (if you have a ring bearer and flower girl) that helped with my wedding!

Megan on Jun 28, 2011

This might be too cheesy for everyone else, but I thought "why not put the absentee's faces on cardstock, tie it to a string and have the 2 groomsmen that are there hold it, so 'in theory' the numbers are even and it's like they were there." Or much like a child holding a mask on a stick, they could hold the masks at their side. Again, I totally understand if it's too hokey.

Lauren on Jun 28, 2011

Wonderful idea ESB! I had friends in the same situation (only one groomsman was deployed at the time) and they explained in the program that he would be there if he could, so they left a space for him. Everyone thought it was a touching way to honor their friendship and no one cared that it was asymmetric.

dzynrgrl on Jun 28, 2011

Ask them to be your "Something Blue" :) I came across this when I was doing research for my own wedding and thought it was a fantastic idea. (My finance and I come from large families and have a large group of friends. We wanted to include everyone but also wanted to keep our wedding party small.)

Serial on Jun 28, 2011

What's a normal number of bridesmaids these days anyway? Whenever I try to think about who I would pick, I can't get the list down below, like, 6. But that seems huge!

angela on Jun 28, 2011

my husband's niece (16 years old) and my younger cousin (22 years old) were grown-up flower girls. they looked smashing and it didn't look weird when i had 5 ladies behind me and my husband had his 3 dudes.

eastsidebride on Jun 28, 2011

@dzynrgrl I did that! I asked a friend to sing in our ceremony + be my something blue and she found a sparkly blue dress and we both srsly teared up every time we talked about it.

Karen on Jun 28, 2011

I absolutely love this idea!! So sweet to have the groomsmen listed "in abstentia" in the program. Nice touch.

Rebecca Dreiling on Jun 28, 2011

Way to think outside of the cake! :) Love!

kristin on Jun 28, 2011

My friend did this and had bridesmaids stand with her during the wedding - but asked all her friends (that she wanted to be bridesmaids) to wear the same color dress and they were included in all the pictures

ms. k on Jun 28, 2011

Spot on, ESB. For other with a similar question: people you want included, but not as a bridemaid, for whatever reason, why not invite them to get ready with you in the morning? That's one of the most special and fun moment with the ladies in your life, imo.

Madison on Jun 29, 2011

When i thought of the girls i wanted involved on my day i came up with 6 that i soo wanted there. However because of budget and the size of the wedding (small) i wasnt able to have them all. 2 of them are now doing a reading and one of them is being a female usher!

memelodia MELODY on Jun 29, 2011

Excellent advice! I once got cut off for symmetry reasons... Or so the bride claims. It might have also to do with the fact that she thought I wasn't "pulling my weight as a bride's maid". um. I don't think you need to have an even amount of people on either side- i have more friends than my boo and i like it that way... Ask them all to raw raw in your corner. Forget formalities.

Charlotte on Jun 29, 2011

One of my my best friends got married last year and because she couldn't have all of us as her bridesmaids (there are 8 of us that have been close since nursery) She suprised us with bracelets that had orchid corsages on for us to wear for the day to mark us out from everyone else. We also had a picture taken of all of us with her and the corsages. Was beautiful and a lovely touch.

Steph Owens on Jun 30, 2011

I shot a wedding this past weekend where the bride had NO girls~ both she and her groom had one brother each and her brother walked her down the isle (her father is deceased) and he then took his place beside her. It was lovely to see them with each of their brothers at the front. So I definitely agree that you can do as you envision it. It is after all your day! Another idea could be to mix it up. One guy on each side mixed with your girls on each side. It makes for a unique look to a traditional part of the ceremony and you still have "balance". And I would absolutely list your friends serving in the program. Please submit photos so we know how it turned out for you! Blessings~ S.

Lanne on Jun 30, 2011

I had two bridesmaids.. .and two other women who for very good reasons couldn't be bridesmaids... we asked them to be our witnesses. They signed our marriage certificate etc. They felt special and included.. and it was a lovely day with no drama or fuss.

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