Choosing who will stand next to you as you say ‘I do’ might be a time-honoured tradition, but it can also be stress-city! Worried about having an uneven wedding party? Or hate the thought of playing favourites with your friends? Fear not! As wedding photographers, we’ve seen our share of weddings and witnessed some amazing alternatives to a traditional bridal party —including no bridal party at all!
We totally believe there are no set rules when it comes to your wedding; so we’re sharing 10 awesome ways we've seen couples break from tradition, so you can have a bridal party that reflects exactly who you are and the plans you have for your wedding.
1. Consider going ‘no Bridal Party’
You might be thinking this sounds crazy, but hear me out; while it’s true, many couples choose to roll with a bridal party, it’s also absolutely not compulsory! And there are a few excellent reasons why we see more and more couples go without.
For one, no bridal party means you don’t have to play favourites with your friends and family (an easy way to avoid any hurt feelings). It can take the pressure off when getting ready before the big event so you’re more relaxed, and the attention will be on you and your fiance. You could also stand to save a bit of cash and you won’t have to worry about finding a bridesmaid dress that everyone can agree on —win!
Also, not having a bridal party doesn’t mean your friends and family can’t be involved in your wedding. Here are some of the fantastic and creative ways we’ve couples still surround themselves with their favourite people while ditching the formal bridal party.
Invite your friends and VIPs to the ‘party before the party’
Not having official bridesmaids or groomsmen means you are free to invite any and all your VIPs to get ready with you in the morning, while still enjoying all the benefits of getting ready surrounded by loved ones and have plenty of people on hand to calm any nerves. Just make sure to also book your photographer for this ‘party-before-the-party’ so you can have all the magical and hilarious moments photographed.
Involve loved ones in other parts of your day.
Ask special people in your life to help out in different roles on your wedding day. From helping you get ready to doing a reading during the ceremony, handing you the rings or signing the register, there are lots of ways to include friends who are not bridesmaids and groomsmen. Some cool things we’ve captured non-wedding party people do include:
Putting in a bride’s veil and helping the couple get ready
Playing a game of golf with a groom
Having a drink with the happy couple
Taking care of travel to the ceremony (via helicopter!)
Sing a song to entertain guests
Organise a game at the reception
Opting to skip a traditional wedding party doesn’t mean you have to go without the love and support of your friends and family. Chances are, they’ll be honoured to play even a small part in your big day, and you’ll enjoy yourself more knowing no one is feeling left out.
2. Embrace uneven bridesmaids and groomsmen
It’s not uncommon for couples to have different friend groups and numbers of friends. One of you may be a social butterfly with a bunch of besties, and the other, have one or two close friends. It’s more common than you think, and you honestly don’t need even numbers - it really doesn't matter. Your wedding photographer will make group shots work and no one will mind if there are uneven numbers when you walk down the aisle. Having people who matter to you (be that 5 for the bride and 2 for the groom or vice versa) is more important.
3. Rock a mixed-gendered wedding party
We’ve heard of them being referred to as an ‘I do crew’ and we love that —gender isn’t the most important thing when choosing your wedding party, having people who matter to you in your wedding party is. Pick a best-women or man-of-honour if that’s what you wanna do! Other fun names for mixed wedding parties we’ve loved include the "wedding crew", "the VIPs" and the "Entourage".
4. Have your wedding party seated for the ceremony
Did you know your wedding party doesn't have to stand with you in front of your guests during the ceremony? Having your wedding party seated for the ceremony can make your wedding feel a whole lot less formal and more relaxed. The rest of your guests will be able to keep their attention on you, and your bridal party will be able to see your ceremony from the front row too.
5. Leave your bridal party out of your wedding photo shoot
OK, if you’ve never worked with us then you may be thinking this is a wild idea but hear us out for a second. If you’ve even been in a bridal party you’ll probably expect that you’ll have to go along for the couples’ wedding shoot. But we prefer not to take your bridal party on your wedding photo shoot for a couple of reasons;
It gives you a moment in the day that’s just the two of you.
You have a chance to feel relaxed without an audience.
It takes way more time to photograph and shuttle and a large group around.
And lastly, no big wedding party shoot means you can get back to the party sooner and have more time (and candid photos) with all your guests.
We’re not saying leave them out all together but rather than go off for ages with a crew, we take a few quick pics with them on-site at your ceremony or reception venue. You can often get a picture of them lined up as a group during family photo time, and we find most of the time, your bridal party is stoked that they get to get the party started with the rest of your guests while you sneak away for pictures.
6. Ditch the wedding cars and walk
Speaking of shuttling your bridal party around, a fun thing we’ve captured at a couple of weddings is couples ditching the wedding cars and taking a walk instead. Getting bridal parties in and out of vehicles can take time, wrinkle outfits and be a bit of a faff sometimes, and this is a great alternative that makes for some cool pictures. Obviously it only really works well if your locations are close, but if you can wander between venues then we recommend it!
7.Opt for mismatched bridal attire
Mismatched bridal party attire is a trend we’ve seen embraced more and more, and is obviously down to personal preference but we love it when it’s done well. Mismatched attire can be done with colour or a consistent element in common or can be completely random. We find often when bridal parties are involved in picking their outfits they feel more comfortable on the day and look more relaxed, making for better photos. If you’re having your crew pick your their own outfits though, you may want to set some ground rules or risk an inflatable t-rex bridesmaid at your wedding. Don’t forget to think about what the weather will be doing too! We’ve seen couples theme the bridal party attire to match the season. Check out our blog on stylish ways to keep warm on your wedding day for tips.
8. Keep things simple and stress-free
If you are planning on having a large bridal party (yay for you, all the friends!) you may be feeling pressure to still all get ready together. While it may sound fun in theory, 8 people trying to get ready in one morning may also feel stressful and could take away from the special pre-wedding prep that you as the bride or groom have planned.
DIY your bridal party prep
Why not have your bridal party do their own hair and makeup and meet you at the ceremony, ready to meet you and help you walk down the aisle. Alternatively, have your bridal party come dressed with hair and makeup done to where you will be getting ready. They can still be there to pop the bubbles, help you into your dress and travel with you to the ceremony.
Get ready with your fiance
We’ve also seen couples who take it easy and choose to spend the morning getting ready together rather than apart. It can be a really intimate and lowkey way to spend the morning as a couple before you make it official and say your I do’s.
9. Include your fur babies in your wedding crew
Dogs at weddings. Need we say more? Many couples choose to make their fur babies part of the festivities, especially if their pooch feels like part of the family. Man’s best friend can absolutely be your best man! Don’t forget to make your pup’s outfit a bit special too - fork out for a new lead or coat or even a bowtie or flower collar like Kirstie + Ben.
10. Avoid cringe-worthy first dances with a group performance
Slow dancing not your style? Want to get the party started? Cut some shapes with your mates. If getting the dance floor pumping is the goal, then starting with a group performance or boogie can really help to kick things off. We’ve seen many full choreographed routines with friends and one bridal party do a quick costume change for sea themed wedding; it’s a fun way to end the formal part of the evening before you dance the night away.
Don’t be afraid to break the rules
At the end of the day, your wedding should be the greatest party you'll ever throw, and the start of life's best adventure. While it’s okay to follow tradition, don’t be afraid to break the ‘rules’ a little (or a lot), especially if it will help make your day more relaxed and fun for you as a couple. If you're looking for more non-traditional inspiration for your wedding day, be sure to check out our article on unique wedding venues or join our mailing list to get regular updates and wedding planning advice.