Time and time again, brides-to-be find themselves debating over exactly who should have a place in their bridal party. Questions like “Do I need to match my bridesmaid count to the groomsmen count?” “Is an even number better than an odd?” and, of course, “Do I have to pick her because I was in her wedding?” seem to circle around your mind as you gear up to pop the question to your ladies.
While it’s totally understandable to feel a little obligated to return the favor, brides are not required, mandated, or often even expected to reciprocate the title of bridesmaid. In fact, in certain circumstances, such as when you have a very small bridal party or a destination wedding, it may be entirely impossible. So, do you really have to reciprocate the bridesmaid title? In short, no. Here are two important reasons why.
Every Wedding Is Different
Perhaps you were a bridesmaid in a grandiose 250-plus-person wedding with 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen. Or maybe getting married in her hometown enabled the bride to honor all of her childhood friends. Whatever the circumstances, you were a bridesmaid in a specific wedding for a specific reason, and whatever those reasons and circumstance were, they might not be the same for you.
Now that it’s your turn, if you’re having a more intimate affair with a much smaller bridal party, of course your “criteria” or “final cut” will be different. Maybe you’re opting to have a maid and/or matron of honor only or have decided along with your partner to have only family fill out your bridal party. Or your destination wedding is shaping up to be a bit costly and you might not want to have a huge bridal party where those in it are obligated to spend tons of money. These are all personal decisions that are well within your right to make, and as a result, you probably won't be able to accommodate having every friend as a bridesmaid.
Over the course of time, whether we like it or not, circumstances and relationships are subject to change. Perhaps when you were a bridesmaid in your friend's wedding, you lived closer, spent more time together, and were genuinely just better friends than you are now. Maybe you were coworkers turned close friends and now jobs and logistics have made it hard to keep in touch. Those who got married younger may have included close college friends as bridesmaids, and a few years later, distance and life in general may cause distance.
This is all okay and very natural. If you find yourself in a different stage of friendship when it’s your turn to wed, it would be a mistake to extend the bridesmaid invitation solely because of a sense of obligation. Plus, you’d open yourself up to potential drama, strained feelings, and awkwardness if you've truly grown apart.