Who Should Be in the Bridal Party?

Updated on October 29, 2018
N.C. asks from San Diego, CA
22 answers

My fiancée and I are trying to fiqure out the bridal party rules. I would like my two 1st cousins, who I consider brothers to be added to his groomsmen. We grew up together, living together for a time. I am having their sister as a bridesmaid. Culturally, we are a very close family. All of my bridesmaids are my sisters or cousins.

I want them in the bridal party photos.

My fiancée says because he hasn’t met them yet he doesn’t want them in his groomsmen.
His groomsmen should only be his friends and people he likes. This does make sense.

I told him if he had a sister, cousin, or friend he wanted I would let them be a bridesmaid, no problem.

To complicate things, he did meet a 3rd cousin on a trip back home who I haven’t seen since I was a kid. He really likes him and said that he would want him in his groomsmen. I didn’t even consider inviting him to the wedding. My “cousins brothers” would feel hurt if he was in the party and this would be disrespectful to my Aunt and Mom, not to have a 1st cousin but a distant 3rd cousin.

We won’t be able to make a trip for him to meet them out of state before the wedding.

What are the rules for bridal party?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the input and the wide range of responses on the topic.

We decided to have 4/4, my 4 sisters and his 4 friends.

Thank you!

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

there aren't any hard and fast rules. but trying to include every close family member will only work if you have tiny families.

your fiance should get to pick the groomsmen most important to him. i don't get trying to shoehorn your family faves into his side of the aisle.

it's not like your photographer can't take as many pics as you want with your 'brothers'.

it is not disrespectful to your aunt and mom for your future husband to have his selected friends at his side. it is very disrespectful for them, and you, to be drama queens over it.



10 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Personally, its the grooms decision. He gets to decide who he wants to stand up with him. You are asking him to add two additional groomsmen? Good grief, how big of a wedding party is this?

I don't understand why this is disrespectful to your Aunt and Mom. I think this is a bit of drama that really isn't necessary. Let him decide who he wants. Its his choice.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

There are no rules, but in my opinion, the groom should pick his groomsmen - people who he feels can be of support to him. He doesn't know your cousins, so I understand his perspective. Can you give your cousins, whom you are close to, other responsibilities of honor? Maybe they can each do one of the readings during the service?

Don't stress about who is in what picture. Make sure your photographer knows to include them in the family pictures and you'll have plenty of pictures with them.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I think that some of the age-old wedding traditions have kind of phased out. It used to be that every bridesmaid wore the exact same dress style, but often, now, dresses are more suited to the bridesmaid's body type (weight, height, for example) and preference. Dresses can be totally different but in a coordinating color (all the same shade of pale yellow and coordinated lengths whether floor length or shorter, but all different styles, for example). And no longer do the numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen have to match. If you ever watch wedding shows on reality tv like Say Yes to The Dress, you will see lots of individual styles. Some brides have a male best friend or a brother who stands by her side as a bride's attendant. I saw one wedding where the groom's twin sister was her brother's "best man" or whatever you want to call that.

The rules for a bridal party are pretty simple. Your dearest friends, regardless of gender or age or anything else, are asked to stand by your side as you marry the love of your life. The bride can have her entire sorority up there, and the groom can have just his dad at his side.

You can give your "cousin-brothers" honored places at your wedding. They can escort your mother and aunt to their seats just before the processional. They can do readings, of Scripture or of a treasured poem, during the ceremony. Since you think of them as brothers, they can wear suits or tuxes that match the groomsmen but stand on your side of the altar.

Stop thinking "rules" and think about who you want standing next to you before you exchange vows with your husband-to-be. Don't think everything has to match. It makes sense for your fiance to choose whomever he wants, and for you to do the same, regardless of numbers or gender or relationship or anything else. Make this joyful, not a chore.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Your fiance can choose whomever he wants. When I got married, my husband chose only his brother. Because his family is small and he didn't have a horde of guy friends and wasn't close to my brothers, I kept my party small and had only my two sisters.

The selection of who is in the wedding party isn't just about pictures. You can have pictures with whomever you want. This is about the group of men he wants to support him, help him, and be with him on this day. It's not all about you and what you want. Let him choose.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

To me the bridesmaids are "your" people and the groomsmen are "his." This day is about the two of you, and who you want standing by your side, not your aunt and mom. They should respect that.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

There are no rules for the bridal party, although it's probably more customary for you each to have people who mean something to you, followed by people who are meaningful to the fiancé/fiancée. There's no rule about size of the bridal party, but you have to keep in mind that it's an expense for each participant. Bridal parties that are so large as to overpower the size of the regular "audience" make guests feel that they are the ones who've been left out because everyone else in the universe is in the bridal party.

I think it's very odd that your fiancé would want your third cousin - if that's what you meant, rather than his own 3rd cousin, or in any case, someone he just met - to be in the bridal party. A person you two barely know would probably react badly to being asked: "Why doesn't he have closer friends?" "How desperate does he have to be and how many people already said no before he asked me?" and so on.

It's not just people you like at first meet - it's people who are close to you, in my view. Yes, we include the siblings of our intended spouse, but it's also assumed that there has been some sort of contact in meeting those who are significant in our loved ones' lives.

Also, remember that there are other possible "jobs" or honors in a wedding that can be done by people not in a wedding party, and you can certainly take pictures with lots of people. My stepdaughter's wedding, for example, including multiple group photos of all the cousins, none of whom were in the wedding party.

What I think is more telling is that you two are already arguing and showing either a lack of understanding or a lack of maturity in how you are handling something as relatively simple as the other person's wedding party. This is kind of a test of your ability to wade through major life challenges in your lives together. Most people have to confront values-oriented issues, from religion to child-rearing to financial problems to major illnesses to caring for elderly or infirm parents. Being able to honor and manage each other's families is a huge thing. As things stand now, your fiancé doesn't see your relationship with your 2 male cousins as all that important for him to get involved in, and you don't see this 3rd cousin as a key player. Unless you can work all that out (perhaps with a neutral 3rd party in some pre-marital counseling), you have a lot of hurdles ahead in your life together.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

If your fiance was cool with it, that would be one thing, But he already made it clear that he is not, so you need to respect it make a different arrangement. It would be unreasonable to try to insist that your fiance has two groomsmen that he does not want..

If you want your cousins to have a place in the wedding entourage, you have options! You can make them bridal attendants and they will stand with your bridesmaids. Bridal parties do not have to be segregated by gender, nor do they have to be evenly numbered.

Alternately, you can give them another job like being ushers, or they can do a reading during the ceremony, or they could walk you down the aisle if you don't have a dad to do it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

There are no rules for a bridal party. I've been to a weddings where there was no bridal party, where the bride had a male and a female in the bridal party, where the groom had his sister, and where each had about 6 people in the bridal party...females for the bride, males for the groom. I think you should choose how many people you each want...say 3. Then you pick yours and he picks his. If you have special males you want to be involved, like your cousins, then ask them to do a reading, or play a song (if they play an instrument), or be an usher, or whatever. Let your fiance decide who he wants.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We picked our own. When other people started to get involved, that's when ours went downhill.

That's been the case with everyone I know. These are people you're sharing the day with.

We spent hours beforehand with our respective 'parties' so you have to enjoy each others' company and get along well - and you want people who will calm your nerves. Having people there 'just because' kind of sucks in my opinion.

That's just me. To me, it was a special day and I wanted those who were special to me. I wasn't trying to please my mother or MIL - and definitely not their sisters.

I agree - other ways to include people you want to honor.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

The groom chooses the best man and groomsmen, if he has enough family or friends who are willing to be best man and groomsmen then your cousins can be ushers.
When my daughter got married the wedding was in Wisconsin however the groom was from Texas, none of his family or friends attended. He has asked his best friend to be best man and he agreed but in the end didn't make it. So they had the children as groomsmen his 7 year old son was best man.
If you are really as close as you say you are they will understand and be supportive.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I didn’t have my future SIL in my bridal party. Granted it was small but still. I didn’t know her well at all. Your fiancé hasn’t even met them yet. If they are groomsmen, it means they will be part of every “guy” celebration. Our groomsmen were with my husband before the wedding and I can see why your fiancé wants that to be people he’s actually met. My SIL sang at our wedding. Likely there is something else your cousins can do during the ceremony. They probably won’t care anyway. Guys don’t get caught up in this stuff. And how could they be offended they’re not in the wedding party of someone they have never even met! How close can you be to them if they’ve never even met your fiancé?? I’d let it go.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sounds to me like your mom and auntie are the ones being disrespectful. A wedding is a day for the bride and groom, not all the older family members who already (presumably) got to have their special day. If this is an issue now it doesn't bode well for your future marriage because you are already saying to your husband, your feelings don't matter.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My husband and I discussed who we wanted but picked out own. I didn't have any of his family on my side except for my flower girl. And he had one of my brothers only because one of his groomsmen backed out and there was no one else to take his place. But if he would have told him hey I want my sisters or cousins in the wedding I would have done it and he would have as well if I had asked him. To me it sounds like he is not willing to compromise on something that is really in the long run insignificant. If I was in your shoes that would scare me. If he's not willing to give in your only other option of having them in the actual wedding party is have them on your side. A lot of people do that now. That way they represent who the one is that they are close to. Or like others have said have them do a reading or something. Or be an usher. If they are not in the party make sure the photographer knows you want pictures with them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

As far as I know, there are no set rules for who is in the 'bridal party.' There isn't even a rule about whether there IS a bridal party; my husband and I didn't have one at our wedding, just a 'best man' and 'best woman' (maid of honor, whatever). Also, if you come from different cultural backgrounds, as your post seems to indicate, the customs will differ with the ethnic group. I'm answering this question as someone whose husband comes from another country, so we ended up creating our own kind of wedding. Fortunately or unfortunately for you, you can't just let a 'rule' decide for you because at a wedding where the bride and groom are organizing it rather than the parents of the bride or of the groom, these decisions are made by the couple. That's particularly true if you come from different backgrounds. Consider this decision to be one of many, many decisions that you two make together in your marriage. I do understand that it's a challenging process. Think of it as a negotiation process where you two practice listening to each other's views and compromise. He needs to understand what things are absolutely essential for you and your family, and you need to understand what things are essential for him and his family. Good luck with it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I just had my sister as maid of honor - there was no other brides maids.
My husband had his best friend co-worker as best man - there were no other grooms men.
We were living in Virginia, getting married where we grew up in New York and my sister was in Connecticut.
I told my sister to pick something tea length with some blue in it and I left the dress decision to her.

We had about 75 people at the reception and I think we did it all for less than $3000 (this was 30 years ago)
With the cost and complications that come up these days I really hope our son will elope when he eventually gets married and saves the money for a house down payment.

Really - while it is a special day that you will remember always - it's a day - a few hours really (marriage ceremony, pictures, reception).
Don't over think it and keep it simple.
You don't need a flock of attendants - and all those brides maids dresses can get expensive.
I've never met anyone who was insulted by not being an attendant at a wedding and I've known a few who turned down the honor as they did not want to be involved at that level/expense.
Your bridesmaids and groomsmen do not have to know each other beforehand and might rarely see each other ever again unless they are close family.
For one day (and maybe a rehearsal) everyone can smile and make nice with each other no matter who they are.

You chose a few close relatives/friends (like 2, 3 is pushing it and more is over the top) - and your husband to be can do the same.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

We had each other's siblings and their spouses in our bridal party, but it's more important that you both be happy about the choices. My husband had two very close friends that he had wanted to include, so we asked them to be ushers.

There are many, many ways to involve people in weddings, so if it doesn't seem like he'll be ok with groomsman, perhaps you can think of another way to include them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I really like Elena's response below. You have so many options. Those cousin-brothers should certainly be by *your* side to support you - as male bridesmaids, as singers at the wedding, or anything like that - but, you should not try to force them onto your groom as total strangers groomsmen.

About your 3rd cousin:
It does sound odd for your groom to want your distant 3rd cousin to be a groomsman. Since that man is *your* distant relative, I see what you mean, your aunt and your mother might think that was weird. (None of this is "disrespectful" to them, but it might be awkward for your aunt and your mother to be "surprised" by a distant relative at the wedding.) How close is your groom's friendship with this 3rd cousin, are they really good friends...? Well, if it seems like this 3rd cousin will definitely be a groomsman, you should mention it to your aunt and your mother soon, to let them know the situation.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You have kind of mixed responses. I'm a little more old fashioned I guess. I think it's totally acceptable to ask and expect your fiancé to include male family members in his party. But...I do think in this case if you are having their sister standing up for you, then I think she can represent the family. I think if you just explain it to your cousins they will understand. That being said, I think it's acceptable to ask them to be ushers or do a reading or somehow be involved in the wedding itself. My husband is the youngest of 6 and he had both his brothers stand up with him but I only asked one of the sisters to be a bridesmaids because it's just logical. I couldn't include all 3 of his sisters plus my closest friends. So his other sisters were asked to do guest book. They were fine with it...because people do understand how these things work. I think you should invite the 3rd cousin to the wedding but I agree that having him be a groomsman might be overkill. Maybe your fiancé was just trying to compromise with that suggestion.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Your cousins can stand with you even if they are men, but your groom gets to pick who stands with him and you pick who stands with you. He should not be forced to have your family stand for him, that spot belongs to people who are important in his life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You know - it's your finace's wedding too - right? It's not just about you? He should have people in his wedding party that HE LIKES and WANTS there. Forcing him to have people he doesn't know is wrong in my book.

You tell your mom and aunt that his groomsmen is HIS choice and they need to respect that.



answers from Chicago on

Have your cousins stand up for you. I don't think the bride gets to tell the groom whom he invite. They should be his close friends.

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