Although a bridal party is customary, it is really not necessary. For many brides, having five bridesmaids and a maid of honor is a big part of the fun, but this is not true for everyone. Read on for thoughts on how to handle having a wedding without a bridal party and how to honor special friends in some other way.
When my best friend got married, she decided from the early planning stages that she did not want to have an official bridal party. This did not mean that her close friends did not help out with the usual things like the wedding planning, bridal shower, and so forth. It just meant that she did not want to have a whole procession of ladies preceding her down the aisle.
Part of the reason that my good friend chose not to have a bridal party was that she did not want any of her friends to feel excluded, and she simply could not have everyone. Rather than having an intense group of bridesmaids at a reliably small wedding, she decided to go without any bridesmaids. However, she did still want to find a way to let her dearest friends know how much they meant to her, to ensure that no feelings would be hurt.
The way that my friend did this was to give special bridesmaid jewelry gifts to her three closest girlfriends. The beautiful gifts of silver jewelry were her way of letting us know that if she were having a wedding party, each of us would have been a bridesmaid. In addition, the bride took us to a very elegant lunch. She was able to convey her friendship and appreciation in a manner that was heartfelt without feeling pressured to have an actual bridal party as proof of her friendship.
There are plenty of other reasons why a bride might decide against having bridesmaids at her wedding. Typically, second time brides will do without a wedding party, unless she has daughters that she would like to include. This is generally the more tasteful option when a woman is being remarried or is not an ingenue in her twenties or early thirties; remember how everyone snickered when Liza Minelli had that ridiculous wedding with a huge group of bridesmaids?
At a certain point, it can just seem silly to have a gaggle of women walk you down the aisle. Whether you are a first time bride or not, once you get into your forties, you will likely find that your friends of the same age are not particularly interested in being bridesmaids. A nice alterative can be to one or more flower girls for the ceremony, and have your best friends do a reading during the service, rather than being bridesmaids.
Some brides also want to spare their friends the effort or expense involved in being a bridesmaid. By the time she has paid for her dress and accessories, a shower gift, a bachelorette party, a wedding gift, transportation, and lodging, a bridesmaid will have spent hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of dollars. If you know that your good friends either can not spare the cash or the time to be in a wedding party, this could be a reason why you would opt to go without one.
Although most brides will want to have at least a maid of honor, a bridal party is not right for everyone. If a gaggle of bridesmaids does not suit your specific situation, it is perfectly fine to do without them. There are still plenty of ways to include your good friends in your wedding, and to show them how special they are to you.