What Happens If You Have No Bridal Party for Your Wedding?

Discover things to keep in mind if you decide to not have a wedding party.

As time goes on, more and more couples choose to design their weddings in a way that fits their personality, rather than tradition. Find out what to do if you don't have a bridal party.

Photo: Parker J Pfister Photographer

As time goes on, more and more couples choose to design their weddings in a way that fits their personality as a couple, rather than tradition that has guided many pairs of the past. While we completely support doing your own thing for your nuptials, brides and grooms don’t always realize the domino effect it can create when it comes to planning the fête and all of the pre-wedding events leading up to the ceremony.

For example, not having a bridal party might be a way to streamline the big day and make things simpler for you and your beloved, but there are some aspects of the ceremony that this can affect. This is not meant to dissuade anyone from electing to forgo a bridal party, but rather to make sure you are informed so there aren’t any surprises at the end of planning.

Sunset Portrait in La Quinta, California

Photo by Alexandria Monette Photography; From Real Wedding: Magical Outdoor Wedding with Spanish-Style Décor Details in California

How can I have a wedding without a bridal party? 

Many couples decide that they don't want to have a bridal party for their wedding, and that's okay! Some may choose to not have bridesmaids or groomsmen because they have many friends and don't want to upset anyone, or they may choose to keep the focus on their love instead of their relationships with their friends and family. Whatever the reason, it is possible to not have bridesmaids or groomsmen – just make sure you let the friends and family members who may have expected to be included in the bridal party know in a way that they will understand and appreciate. 

We've seen many a celebration with no wedding party and the event is just as beautiful as those nuptials that do have wedding parties. While you may not have the classic portraits of bridesmaids and groomsmen, you can focus your attention and the timeline of your wedding day on other parts of the special day. The choice is yours – and as with anything related to your wedding day, it's important to make the decision that's right for you as a couple. 

Are you curious about what aspects of the big day will change for weddings without bridal parties? Here are some things you might have to adjust if you’re not having a bridal party:

Who holds the bouquet? 

Typically a bride will hand off her bouquet to the maid of honor during the wedding ceremony, but if you don’t have bridesmaids standing with you, that won't be an option. Even for a wedding without bridal-party members, you will probably have your VIPs in the front row, right? Choose one of your close friends, siblings, or family members to hold your bouquet as you and your beloved say your “I dos” – just make sure they know about this duty in advance.

Who holds the rings? 

On a similar note, the best man often holds onto the wedding rings until the time to exchange them comes in the ceremony, because no one really wants to trust the young ring bearer with expensive jewelry. One great option for weddings without bridal-party members is to entrust the officiant with the rings. It should be an even more seamless transition for the wedding day than the groom turning around to get them from his best man.

Length of the processional. 

This particular one might be a plus for some couples, but with no bridal party, there won't be any bridesmaids or groomsmen walking down the aisle. The predominant way this might affect your planning is wedding processional song choice. 

Usually there is a tune selected for any family members and the wedding party, and then one for the bride. There will likely not be sufficient time for two, and you might even have to make sure the ceremony song is cued up so that your favorite part is playing as you walk down the aisle. This is by no means a reason to reject the idea, it's just something to keep in mind when wedding planning.

No automatic getting-ready squad. 

A bride usually gets her hair and makeup done with her bridesmaids, but just because you don’t have any doesn’t mean you have to get ready alone – unless that’s what you want! Many brides featured in Inside Weddings love having their photographer document those picture-perfect "getting-ready" shots, and we're here to share that you can absolutely do so even if you have a wedding without bridesmaids! 

You may consider asking your sisters or closest friends to do hair and makeup with you on the big day. However, if you don’t offer beauty services to them, it may feel awkward as a professional works on you. It also can lead to the same issues of hierarchy that you may have been trying to avoid by not having a bridal party in the first place. Even if you're not having bridesmaids, make sure you make your close friends who are prepping for the ceremony with you feel special!

Can I still have a bachelorette party? 

Even if you decide to have no bridal party, the good news is that your desire to have a bachelorette party does not go out the window! Nowadays, bachelorette parties include friends who may not be wedding attendants (even for weddings with bridal parties). Unlike more formal get-togethers like a rehearsal dinner, this pre-wedding event is a great way to make sure that all of your closest friends are included – even if they're not officially part of the wedding day. 

Since you won't have bridesmaids or even a maid of honor – who typically plan this event – you'll need to either plan the celebration yourself or a close friend or sibling may offer to plan it for you.  Similarly for grooms, a bachelor party can still occur even without groomsmen!

Is it okay to not have bridesmaids or groomsmen? 

Your wedding day should be a celebration of you as a couple, so if you choose to not have bridesmaids for one of many reasons – budget, drama, etc. – that's okay! For every wedding that has a large bridal party, we're seeing more and more weddings have no bridal party at all. You may still choose to have a flower girl or ring bearer participate in the wedding ceremony, or you may decide to remove this tradition from your celebration as well. 

Some brides look forward to choosing their 'maids, picking out bridesmaid dresses, and planning that entire part of the celebration, but if that's not you – don't force it. Trust your gut and do what will ultimately make you the happiest. Your friends may even be excited to just "attend" the wedding and have fun instead of having a honorable role to play in the nuptials!

For more wedding inspiration and ideas, discover alternatives to standard ceremony seating, find out the reasons couples might forgo a bridal party, discover nontraditional wedding song ideas, and learn how to deal with personal questions once you get engaged.