I Don’t Have Enough Friends to Have Bridesmaids: Help?

AAPW: My partner has eleven groomsmen, and I'm stressing OUT

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

bridesmaids standing together

Q: I have always described myself as a man’s woman. I have two brothers, so I spent most of my time as a part of their friend group and doing typically male things with them, such as playing video games or making midnight treks to the gas station for Slim Jims and Gatorade. I would not, however, describe myself as a tomboy. I love makeup and glitter and shoes and all things girl; I just don’t like other girls.

Growing up, I struggled very hard with building and maintaining female friendships, and it’s something that I still struggle with as a thirty-year-old woman. My female friendships have always been the most successful with other women who are like me: they also don’t tend to get along with other women. I gravitate to male friends, male discussion topics, and male interests.

This became the most apparent to me when my younger brother got married, and I found myself included (as a bridesmaid) in several activities with the bride and her lifelong group of friends. I struggled with relating to the group, and found myself gravitating toward my brothers and the groomsmen in social settings. I had little to contribute to the conversations that seemed to dominate the girls’ side of the table, and found myself baffled at some of the topics of conversation.

I realized as the festivities around my brother’s wedding concluded that if I were to attempt to construct a wedding party, I would only be able to come up with one woman I consider myself close enough to to call a bridesmaid. This leads me to my current issue.

My boyfriend wants the big white wedding. He has been a groomsman several times, as all of his friends are married, and I know he wants to share the same experience with them. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that other than placing ads in the newspaper and hiring strangers, I will never be able to provide enough bridesmaids to match his eleven (ELEVEN!!) minimum groomsmen. Yes, eleven was the number he was able to cut it down to by making the others ushers, so that’s out as a possibility to dispose of more of them. My boyfriend continues to say, “Just ask your friends,” as if friends grow on trees or there’s a large number of them I’m hiding from him. My suggestion to just have groomsmen and a maid of honor was met with bafflement. (Boyfriend is totes traditional.)

Has anyone else ever dealt with this? What can I do? Is there any way to compromise on him wanting to include every guy whose wedding he was in that doesn’t involve me reaching out to my old babysitter to see if she’s available?

—The Row kat

A: Dear RK,

Before we even touch your question about bridal parties, let’s chat about lady friends. Specifically, how you see ladies, and why they’re not your friends. This cultural message that cool girls don’t get along with other women sucks, and it’s sexist. Think about the subtext of what you’re saying there. Acting as though all women are the same, as though women are uninteresting unless they’re like men, as though “women’s interests” or things classically feminine are petty or catty or trite, is simplistic… and sort of insulting. There are some shallow, deeply boring women, to be sure. But there are also shallow, deeply boring men. Open yourself up to some equal opportunity dislike! There are uninteresting folks of every gender, and the happy flipside to that is there are deep, strong, amazing folks of all kinds, too.

So first up, maybe you just need to meet new women! I’m not into video games, but I know plenty of ladies who are—and it’s not because they’re masculine in some way that I’m not. They’re just complex, multifaceted human beings, like we all are. (And anyone who doesn’t like a late night snack trip is just a damned fool.)

Which makes me think you’re trapped in your head about this. Maybe you’ve so thoroughly convinced yourself that you don’t get along with women that your mindset stands in the way when you’re around them. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Take your brother’s wedding, for example. You struggled to find commonalities to discuss, but is that because they’re women, or because you didn’t know them as well as you know your brother?

I’d encourage you to reconsider how you feel about female friendships, and maybe even seek them out. Not because we need to split up according to gender lines like we’re at a middle school dance, but because dismissing an entire subsection of folks based on something like gender is to truly miss out on some awesome relationships. Personally, I’ve found my female friends have become more valuable to me as I’ve gotten older and our shared experiences (sexism, career struggles, health, motherhood, marriage issues) have become more significant than whatever differences we have.

But what about your bridal party?

But you don’t have lady friends now, and that’s why you’re writing. I can tell you without a doubt, “man’s woman” or no, you’re not the only bride to have faced this bridal party issue, despite what you see in photos. The picture-perfect wedding with an evenly divided bridal party doesn’t leave room for the many different kinds of people we are, the different kinds of relationships we have, and the different life stages we’re in when we marry. Being forced to single out your closest friends can be a weird thing. Many weddings happen right around a big transitional point in our lives, when some of us are moving, graduating from school, changing careers, or otherwise shifting and uprooting. If you’re in one of these transitional phases and don’t have many friends, picking a bridal party can emphasize that point in an uncomfortable way. Or, if your friendships don’t match the lifelong-besties model, it can feel awkward picking who you’re closest to (especially if you’re unsure if the feeling of closeness is mutual).

I’d like to reassure you, RK (and anybody else!), that it’s totally normal. Lots of us don’t have a classic bridal party that fits this “best friends for life” ideal, and it doesn’t mean you’re lacking in some way.

Your instinct to have lopsided bridal parties is perfect. It really is fine to have one friend on your side, and almost a dozen on his. Or you can ask some guy friends to stand on your side. Or you can skip the bridal parties completely. I understand that your partner wants to honor his friends, but there are loads of other ways to do so, and he’ll have to budge somewhere on this. You just don’t have eleven folks in your life at this moment. So either he chops down his party, or he lets go of this magical, symmetrical vision in his head.

Your wedding isn’t supposed to measure up to some imagined ideal; it’s supposed to reflect where you are right at this moment. Right at this moment, you don’t have a ton of lady friends. But that doesn’t mean you never will.


Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Lindsay

    thank you, liz, for calling out the internalized misogyny in this question. i know several women who “just don’t get along with women!” and i am always insulted by that.
    but as for the actual question – i’ve been to several recent weddings with mixed gender bridal parties – a groom with a “best woman”, a bride with a “bridesman”, etc and no one has batted an eye! if your nearest and deadest are dudes, then have them stand beside you.

    • sofar

      Yep! I am celebrating my bachelorette party this weekend with more men than women. But I don’t think I’ve ever said, “I get along with men better.” My friends are my friends, and I’ve found both men and women who share my interests.

      • Sara

        I’m trying to figure out how to navigate a conversation with my fiance about having a co-ed bachelorette when he is having a guys-only bachelor party. I have friends who mean a lot to me of both genders, and I generally just find things to be more fun when there’s a mix of people. Does that mean my fiance can come? If he wasn’t invited would he feel weird even though I didn’t get to go to his? I know there’s not technically a right or wrong way to do this, I’m just trying to figure out how I’m going to approach it.

        • sofar

          The way we saw it (and my fiance is having a co-ed party, too, btw) was that MY bachelorette party was with MY friends doing MY favorite things and his party would be with HIS friends doing HIS favorite things.

          And, actually, we invited a couple of the same people!

          I know some people invite their future spouses to their parties, but, honestly, we both saw it as a way to celebrate ourselves, which we felt we really couldn’t do if we were in the same room. We’d end up compromising to make each other happy.

          Also, it was really nice to be dropped off at home at in the wee hours and have my fiance to be waiting with ibuprofen and food for me.

          • Sara

            I think we will both be planning trips, which only further complicates this conversation. Thank you both for sharing your experiences – I’m glad it’s not just me!

        • Nell

          Aha! You can totally take a page from the LGBT community! My wife and I had separate bachelorette parties – hers was mixed gender, mine was not. We didn’t attend each other’s – but many of our same friends attended both.

          sofar is 100% right. Your bachelorette is about your friends celebrating YOU in advance of this big coupley thing you’re going to do together. If your friends happen to be dudes, then great!

    • Sara

      I know several women like that as well. I even have close knit group of friends from HS that is made up of mostly men. But in my experience, the women that claim they ‘don’t get along with women’ are trying to find a reason not to. My guy friends are fantastic, and ended up marrying fantastic women – I would be a fool not to try to relate to them. I get not getting along with women that are polar opposites like perhaps the SIL friend’s were. And its hard to fit in with a group of lifelong friends for a day even if there was common ground. But if your idea is that women only talk about whatever uber-girly thing you imagine then you’re missing out. One of my closest friendships was forged over Ohio State Football and fantasy football.

      • Vanessa

        Yeah I generally hear “I just don’t get along with women” as a huge red flag.

        • Rachel

          I hear it as “I had my feelings hurt by a girl one too many times and now I’m defensive” haha.

        • I agree with Rachel. You shouldn’t be so quick to red flag people when you don’t know the reason behind their emotions.

          • Nike

            I’m sure there’s a reason behind why some men claim all women are shallow bitches, too, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see that misogyny as a red flag. Even if they got burned too many times.

          • If you want to red-flag someone for past experiences, than that is your loss.

        • Gregory

          Like when you here the majority of women prefer male bosses?

      • Abe

        Totally agree. I get that a particular bridal party or group of women might be hard to relate to, but a bridal party can be made up of anyone. The main interests of my crew range from glitter-obsessed fashionistas to passionate sports fans to bookworms to gamers (… and they’re all women)!

        • Sara

          I have a friend that we joke that we have absolutely nothing in common. Literally anything she likes movie/book/tv/music wise, I generally can’t stand (she, as a joke, dedicated a LMFAO song to me at her wedding because I absolutely hate them). She likes white chocolate, I like dark. She likes super sweet wine, I like dry reds. BUT she’s one of my favorite people on the planet because she likes to do fun things and try new places and will talk to me for hours about nothing. You don’t need a ton of common ground to forge a bond.

          • Abe

            Hah, that’s great, and I’m the same way! If you looked at my bridal party and close girlfriends, everyone has wildly different personalities and interests (for instance, in the examples I mentioned, I’m not big on either fashion, sports or video games). But they’re wonderful people who I enjoy immensely, and it keeps life interesting to find kindred spirits in unexpected places.

          • Meredith

            I love this! My HS bestie and I had everything in common, like finish each other’s sentences, but she was a little shallow and flaky. We’re still friends, but have kind of grown up and aren’t as close. My current closest girl friend and I have nothing in common! She’s probably everything opposite of me, but she’s so sweet and chatty and fun! I always laugh and say we rarely know what the other one is talking about, but she’s the nicest friend I’ve ever had.

          • Violet

            I end up having more in common values-wise with friends than interests-wise. I personally agree that I haven’t found needing a common ground of hobby/interest to be paramount to a good friendship. Relationship dynamics and values have played a much larger role in my friendships.

          • I have a friend like that, but the only reason that we’re friends is because we started our friendship when we were basically children. If we had met as adults, we wouldn’t be friends at all.

          • Sara

            Personally, this friend is one I met as an adult. She was a work buddy that became a real life friend. But I do have a couple of childhood friends I sometimes look at and think, “we’re only friends because of time invested in this”.

    • Alanna Cartier

      Thank you APW again for posting exactly what I needed just when I needed it.

      I sat on the subway the other day listening to two women talk about how they hate hanging out with women and don’t have any female friends. When I tried to explain to the fiancee why I was so enraged, I didn’t have the words to articulate it. Now I do :D

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    • AP

      I got drafted into helping host a bridal shower recently for a woman marrying into my family. The groom (my family member) asked my mom and me to throw her a shower “because she just doesn’t have any women friends.” At the shower, which was at my house and required not a small amount of planning and work to put on, the bride gave a toast before opening her gifts and said, “I’ve never been in a room full of women before who didn’t all hate me.” It was insanely awkward. There we were: fifteen aunts, grandmas, female cousins and friends, all there to support her even though we barely know her…and that was all she could think to say. It was incredibly insulting, but it also made me sad for her.

      • Lindsay

        oh YIKES.

      • :(

      • A.

        Oh man, oh man. Was it a horrible attempt at a joke or a total lack of social awareness? Either way, I definitely get why you’d want to both give her a hug but also kinda, like, smack her upside the head a bit for that.

        • AP

          Yeah, I think it was a bit of both. And that is *exactly* how I felt!

    • guest

      Yes. I totally fall into the camp of wishing I had more women friends. (just due to life circumstances all my female friends live far away and I haven’t yet made new ones where I live, and now I seem to want some so badly that I don’t know how to approach it). But I don’t like other women is such a sexist thing to say. It is okay to struggle with forming female friendships, and you don’t need to blame it on all women.

      • Clare Caulfield

        You’ve beautifully articulted my feels. :)

        When I first read the LWs letter and the response I thought it was a bit harsh, but i think I was reading between the lines (seeing myself in the LWs shoes), and not paying close enough attention to the actual words used…which on a reread do come across as hinky.
        Yes I wish I had more women friends, and as someone in one of those transition periods mentioned in the article, making new ones as an adult can be tricky, but I dont see it as an issue I have with women…making any adult friends seems harder than it was as a child, regardless of gender. Putting up walls or making assumptions (mine can be, well everyone already has there friends, theres no room for me) certainly wont make the process easier.
        My suggestion would be to not have set bridal parties and instead ask his eleven men and your how every many mixed gender friends to help in specific ways. That way he gets is groomsmen time and LW can have her involved too peeps too, no matter who or how many there are

        • Or there could be a joint wedding party including all the couple’s close friends, and they stand (or sit) together somewhere, instead of taking “sides.” Maybe they process in and then sit in the front together?

  • Ashlah

    We didn’t have attendants at all because neither of us have many friends, certainly not “lifetime besties” style friends, and it just felt weird for us to force it. So I get where you’re coming from not wanting to reach out to “your old babysitter” and the like. That said, it seems like your fiance won’t consider that as an option.

    Some options:

    Ask your male friends to be in your party (your letter doesn’t say if you have few friends at all, or just no female friends).

    Ask some of your fiance’s friends to stand on your side (perhaps you’ve grown close enough to some of them that they are mutual friends?).

    Or don’t have sides at all! I’ve seen weddings where a group of friends all stood together in support of both the bride and groom, no split necessary.

    Ask your fiance if it’s important to him that they actually stand at the ceremony, or if he would be okay with all the other fun stuff that comes with having groomsmen, minus the one part I imagine is the most stressful for you (putting the dichotomy in friend numbers on display at your wedding).

    • Greta

      I feel like these are all solid ideas! I’ve been to a LOT of weddings lately with no formal attendants – I like this option a lot because you still have all the support and love of friends and all the prep before hand, but none of the stress of formally picking people, choosing outfits, etc. All of these weddings had elements of what you might see a traditional wedding party doing (speeches, help getting ready, etc.) but they just weren’t in a wedding party. Also, many of the weddings with no formal attendants were not because the couple didn’t feel they had a lot of friends, they usually just didn’t want to deal with all of expectations/drama/headaches/choosing/stress/etc.

    • Eenie

      Same! No wedding party, no regrets. To build on the suggestions here, we did choose a few friends to make speeches and got gifts for our very nearest and dearest. We each had a party thrown by different friends that were mixed gendered.

    • sofar

      The whole time I was reading this letter I was thinking, “Why doesn’t she just ask her dude friends to stand on her side?”

      My fiance has several women standing on his side. His bridal party is 16 people by the way, and I have 5. At one point someone suggested that his female friends stand on “my” side to “fill it out,” and I was like, “Ummm are you throwing me a pity party? I have five beautiful close friends to stand with me, and that’s plenty!”

    • Kelly

      My husband and I had 10 women in our wedding party, no men, and no “sides.” Just 10 of OUR friends standing up to support us. It was perfect for us at the time.

  • Violet

    Thanks Liz, for addressing the first aspect of this question.

    As for the second part, RK, I’m curious about your boyfriend’s response to “just ask your friends.” It sounds like you’re pretty clear about your friendship preferences (as stereotyped as they may be). Presumably you don’t hide or otherwise misrepresent your friendships to your boyfriend. Does he think you’re hiding women in the closet? Does he not believe you when you proclaim what a man’s woman you are and how you “just don’t like other girls”? Maybe consider the possibility that there is a communication issue happening somewhere.

  • Lisa

    I know a lot of people get hung up on the idea that both sides of the bridal party have to be *exactly equal*. My husband struggled with this, too, and ultimately decided to leave out a third friend because balancing the wedding party was something he cared about. Maybe you could show your boyfriend photos of real weddings with lopsided parties to convince him that it’s something that can be done and done well.

    Other ways around this would be to have all of your cherished guy friends as bridesmen on your side of the aisle. If you’re stuck on equal sides/separated genders, maybe your boyfriend can find other ways to honor his friends besides having them as groomsmen (readers, ringbearers, ushers, DJs, toasters, etc.).

    I kept my side of the wedding party to just my sisters because I knew I could quickly become someone who had a gigantic bridal party. Honestly, keeping the party smaller was so much easier because we had less to manage. Our officiant commented on how nice it was to have a smaller party because it means there are fewer moving parts throughout the day and fewer people to heard. Maybe you could discuss it from a logistical standpoint with your boyfriend? If you have 22 people in a wedding party, that’s a lot of mouths to feed, bodies to dress, people to move, presents to buy, and personalities to manage during a time that’s already incredibly stressful. That’s something you’ll definitely want to take into consideration when planning a wedding day.

    • Eenie

      I was talking with a photographer and large wedding parties are a nightmare for them (or at least the two I was talking to). It takes a lot of energy to wrangle 24 people all day for photos.

      • Lisa

        Yup, so much this. The church where we got married is cathedral-sized in a posh area of Chicago so it tends to attract gigantic weddings, which come with large bridal parties. Our officiant told us about one he’d done recently that had 17 people on each side. (I CANNOT imagine 34 attendants.) He was so excited that we were having a smaller wedding.

      • Liz

        Such a good point.

    • Greta

      iMy brother’s wedding did siblings only as attendants. It was great! We were also all of opposite genders, but we stood on the side of our sibling. I stood up as the sister of the groom, and the bride had her 2 brothers stand up. It was awesome!

      • Lisa

        I feel like immediate family is an easy line to draw that wouldn’t upset most people in the same way that picking one friend but leaving another out might. I have several groups of girlfriends, and I felt that, if I picked one from the group, I’d have to ask the rest so no one would feel left out. I was able to honor those other women in different ways (singers, readers, gift bearers) so that they all still had a place in our day. Having just my sisters stand up with me was all I needed!

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      And photographers are so awesome at getting gorgeous pictures anyway.

  • Elizabeth

    This is why I like APW, for addressing the first part of the question. I’m not excited about a lot of the gendered expectations around weddings — it can be legitimately very tough to be put in your sister-in-law’s wedding party instead of your brother’s because you’re female and so is she. Because when you’re relying on gender to be the main thing you share, it might not be enough to have a fun time and that’s entirely fair.

    As for myself…my maid of honor might end up standing on my wife-elect’s side in most of our pictures, because we’re letting each person pick what color of the rainbow they want to be (except for the last one) and my maid of honor is purple and her two picked blue and green. We’re probably going to have unequal sides even so, because our maids of honor insists that indigo is totally a color of the rainbow. I work in a male-dominated field (which I went to college for, so 90% of my classmates & coworkers have been male), so a lot of my close friends are male. I’m going to have them stand up there with me. I’m probably going to call them bridesmates, because I haven’t come up with anything better. I’m really excited about all of this.

    • Jessica

      I 100% love Bridesmates.

      • Elizabeth

        I asked my friend to be one and he was like ‘…I don’t think that’s a name’ and I went ‘it is’ and his response was ‘it can be, but I don’t think it’s a general term’. He’s fine with using it, but I have no idea how it got stuck in my head in the first place because I was convinced it was a more general term…rather than just for nautical weddings.

        • Jessica

          It makes a pirate themed bachelor/ette party very likely.

          • Elizabeth

            Which sounds fantastic. I actually asked my rabbi last week if he would marry us on a pirate ship. He said “no no no, we don allow no marryin on me ship. sets a bad example, it does”.

    • Elizabeth

      To add as well — I’ve felt really weird that I don’t have anyone from high school or college that I would ask, that I would consider close enough to ask. It’s going to be my sister and coworker/former coworkers. I feel like I’m failing in some manner, to not have people from that stage in my life, and getting around that can be hard, even when I know that there aren’t any good fits, and when I know that I am really close with the coworkers I am asking. It feels like I should have those people for a wedding, even when I’m generally just fine with the fact I don’t.

      • Jessica

        I have a new-ish friend who feels the same way. She called me in a panic about a year ago because she had gone through some health issues and felt she had no one to turn to besides her fiancee (which was hard on him). I told she could call me at any time, and that building long, deep friendships just takes time and consistent effort. She really is one of my close friends now, nearly as much as the friends I’ve had for over a decade.

      • Greta

        Yes, all the heaviness of friendships in early adulthood. I also don’t have any close friends from high school that I still talk to, and a few friends from college, though we live across the country from each other, which makes communication and regular friend things very challenging. Most of my current friends all live in my same city and are the people I see on a regular basis – I think that geography affects a LOT of friendships.

        • Lisa

          It really does because it takes so much more effort to communicate and stay in touch than it does with people who are close by. Most of my college and high school friendships have fall off the map for reasons of geography. We’ll get together if we’re all home for a holiday or in the same city, but we’re not making special trips across the country to hang out every few months. It took my husband and I a lot of effort to make close friends in Badtown, and now that they’ve moved away, we’re going through the friend finding process all over again!

        • Elizabeth

          And I think it also makes sense if I’ve changed since then, and so have they, so I have more in common with the people I make as friends now, as it were. And geography. Being able to communicate with people regularly is HUGE to letting that relationship continue to develop and a lot of in-person relationships don’t transition well to no longer being able to hang out.

        • Eenie

          Yup. I don’t have many friends that I call up and talk to on a regular basis. We get together with local friends or when visiting a place we used to live. Exception is one friend that I text daily. No Skype calls, just texting. Geography man.

        • Sara

          I agree with this. I’m still friends with a core group from high school but aside from one girl who lives a couple states away, we all stayed pretty close by. Granted, I live in Chicagoland so it’s a huge area, but I still see them way more frequently than if I say moved to Arizona. There are a few friendships in that core that probably would die out if either of us moved. Not to say I don’t adore them. Just… I can see it happening.

          • Greta

            Yes, I wouldn’t say my friendships are dead or anything, but I only see some of these people when I go visit my hometown for the holidays, or at random weddings. I still consider them all friends, but I have no idea what is happening in their day to day lives. It’s sad in some ways, because I truly do miss them and miss hanging out with them, but it’s also not reasonable to have one-on-one conversations with each of them every few weeks. We have a group text going that we occasionally use every few weeks but other than that it’s not much communication.

      • BSM

        I think the grass is always greener with this one. I had 3 bridesmaids, 2 of which I’ve known since kindergarten and 1 since middle school. None from college or post-college, and I felt like *I* was failing!

        ETA: And my husband had 6 groomsmen. Lopsided parties, FTW!

        • Elizabeth

          There we are. These expectations we put on ourselves are so much fun, aren’t they? :p

          • BSM

            Sooooooo fun :) I have loved reading comments about this topic here on APW because it made me realize that most of the judgment is internal.

            Serious kudos for having such close coworkers and former coworkers! I have some colleagues that I consider friends and did invite to my wedding, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to move the friendships past that.

          • Elizabeth

            I don’t know that it’s any credit to me! Part of it is just the environment — we’re a little in the middle of nowhere, so we socialize with each other a lot and that’s been a huge benefit to me, when I wouldn’t necessarily be able to make close friends like this if I lived in a city. There’s also that we’re engineers, so we tend to see coworkers a lot as ‘people who understand/think like us’.

      • emmers

        I had a ton of bridesmaids (9!), and a lot of it was because I was honoring our past relationship (i.e. we used to be close buddy roomies, or really close in college). I didn’t get married that long ago (1.5 years), but I was thinking recently how it’s clear that there are a lot of them I’m probably not going to be hanging out with much in the future, due to distance and differing life stages. If I had to pick a bridal party now, composed of people I’m actually still in good touch with, it would be much smaller. I guess I’m saying it’s OK if you don’t have people from some stages of your life. It’s natural to drift apart, and it’s true even for folks with big bridal parties– it’s just not usually possible to stay close with that many people.

    • Abe

      LOVE the bridesmates, the rainbow (I second indigo), and the way you’re handling the whole bridal party thing. Rock on!

    • Cellistec

      Indigo is totally a color of the rainbow.

      • Greta

        It’s the I in Roy G. Biv!

      • Elizabeth

        So my sister insisted, but when I asked her to define it she struggled a little. It’ll be in there — partly because that lets me have four people that I ask and I really do want all four – which I wanted more when I thought through what the day would be like and what they would bring in making me sane in wedding planning (as they do in life!). (Which means my attendants are mostly super-chill people because I am not always chill.) (We talked about adding gradations and would have rather than cutting people we love, but the wife-elect feels best with three people she picks.)

  • Sara

    When my college roommate got married, she had a same problem. Her husband has a tight knit group of guys that he HAD to include and ended up with seven groomsmen. She struggled to find five and then he sprung the last two on her (because they felt slighted that the other five were in it…it was a big deal to them). She called me (her MOH) nearly in tears saying “I don’t even have seven friends!’. She ended up pulling people from the family and high school friends bench that normally wouldn’t have been included.
    But I’ve been to weddings were two groomsmen walked one bridesmaid down, where the bridal parties didn’t walk down the aisle (so as to not draw attention to the uneven split), where there were men on both sides of the party… don’t feel pressured to play out the movie “I Love You, Man”. Just invite whomever you want to be in the party and don’t apologize for it.

    • Abe

      As a bridesmaid who walked down the aisle with a man on both arms (because there were more groomsmen), I have to say… it was fun!

  • Loren

    I just want to say, that I am a fairly outgoing person with a very solid friends group, filled with both genders. But there’s no way I could pull together ELEVEN people to stand next to me.
    If fiance wants to include all eleven maybe he could ask a few of them to do other things, maybe a special reading or a song or something?

    • Amy March

      I am so happy with my 3 close friends and can’t even fathom having 11 of them!

    • Lizzie

      Agreed! I’d be well into my very-close-vacation-as-a-group-coworkers pool to get up to 11. And I do love them (we vacation together sometimes for heck’s sake!), but… nah. Not at my wedding. No way I could come up with 11 people who I’d want to be that intimately involved in a huge personal transition.

  • Sydney

    For what it is worth, a lopsided bridal party would not be the end of the world. As a woman who just doesn’t have very many friends, the bridesmaid question was very stressful for me. My husband is in the military and is good at making friends, so he had a nearly endless supply of possible groomsmen. He had eight groomsmen, and I struggled to find four women to stand beside me. Our pictures were unequal, and it was okay. However, if I could do it all over again, I would not have attendants at all. I would just have my husband and me up there getting married and no groomsmen or bridesmaids. In part because 1. choosing friends as “more important” than others is shitty and it made me so uncomfortable. 2. People get really weird about being in your wedding party. I legitimately had one gal that I hadn’t spoken to since early high school text me telling me she was hurt she wasn’t in my wedding party. That was awkward and rude (on her part). I hate awkward and rude situations. 3. If you are someone that doesn’t have many friends or has difficulty making friends, it can be a painful and difficult situation to look at your spouse’s plethora of close companions as compared to the few you were able to scrape together.

    All that to say… lopsided is FINE. Having no wedding party at all is FINE (or maybe even better?). If it were me, I would tell my fiance that he needs to back off because you simply can’t match his number of groomsmen.

  • knolan12

    What about family? I’m including my sister-in-laws (I have all brothers, so I do consider them my sisters) and cousins in my bridal party.

  • Mrrpaderp

    LW’s FH really wants 11 groomsmen and so he should get to have 11 groomsmen. It’s less clear what his thoughts are, or whether he cares at all, about LW’s side. Is he pressuring LW to come up with 11 WOMEN on her own? Not sure if that’s what’s happening here or if this is a self-imposed issue, but it sounds like LW and her FH need to talk more about what his “traditional” wedding looks like.

    If LW wants to come up with 11 (or close to it), she can ask: 1. her male friends/family members; 2. FH’s friends/family members who didn’t make the cut on his side; 3. groomsmens’ SOs. Alternatively, if LW doesn’t want a big bridal party, I think the only time it will really matter is during the ceremony and pictures, only because I know I would feel awfully lonely if my FH was surrounded by this huge group of guys while I was standing all by myself. So, think creatively about where the wedding party will stand during the ceremony and pictures. Do they need to stand at all? Can they stand in kind of a half circle around the couple or on both sides of the couple?

  • Keeks

    I am not a person who has a ton of girlfriends (or at least not girlfriends I wanted to impose upon to be bridesmaids), but my partner has a ton of guy friends from many different seasons of life. Our options were either to have 1 person per side, or just embrace the uneven wedding party.

    My practical suggestions for the LW:
    1. Ask your brothers to stand on your side! My brothers were stoked to be a part of my wedding party; less stoked about being called “bridesbros,” but whatever.
    2. Skip the wedding party processional, instead of trying to create awkward combinations of men & women. Ours were seated in the front before the entrance began.
    3. Accept your current friend situation instead of going all “I Love You Man” for the wedding. Spend time after the wedding (or now, if you aren’t engaged), to find and cultivate a few new friends. But don’t add the pressure of a wedding!
    4. Let your partner deal with his own emotions and expectations surrounding his wedding party. My husband definitely had to let go of his vision of a large, even, matching wedding party… but I couldn’t force him to do it. And vice versa for me.

    All in all, I really enjoyed having an uneven, mixed gender wedding party. My brother gave the most touching toast, my SIL kept me grounded during planning, and my husband probably has more pictures with his 7 groomsmen than he does with me. AND now that the wedding is over, I have the emotional bandwidth to engage more with girlfriends who weren’t my bridesmaids.

  • BDubs

    Hey LW, I’m going to put out there that I definitely *GET* what you’re saying about having trouble with girl-girl friendships. There’s a lot of hate raining down in this thread for that, but I think that some people do struggle with making friends or even getting along with people of one group or another whose culture just does not mesh.
    My experience is that the vast majority of women in the culture I’ve lived in my whole life are just not a fan of how I do me and I’ve experienced a lot of pain and rejection. I can’t really explain it better than that. The dynamic is a recurring letdown.
    So my input would be to either decide to have the friends you do cherish stand up with you regardless of sex, or just say nope to bridespeople on your side. Let your husband have the attendants. Share them, even. Who cares.
    Anybody who wants to give you attitude about either of these decisions doesn’t deserve any worry. Let ’em know, politely, what your decision is and forget about it.
    Best and xoxo

    • Kayjayoh

      I don’t see it as “hate raining down”. Seriously? Hate? Raining down? Sadness, perhaps. But this isn’t exactly a 4Chan style flamewar on the LW. :(

      • S

        I didn’t get a chance to read the deleted rely to my comment, so I’m not sure if it was about my comment specifically being too mean or aggressive, or just about the collective pushback. I think my initial comment WAS quite aggressive..and that’s because this Q is deeply anti-woman, and it makes me sad that someone could hate their own kind (and, hey, my kind!) so much. The point of my comment was that the LW actually seems to have both stereotypically male AND female interests, from what she’s states. She likes to hang with dudes and do dude things, but actively states she’s not a tomboy and loves feminine stuff. Which means…I think they really have to unpack what it is they think they can’t talk to women about, and why they think that. If you like makeup and glitter and all you’re doing is hanging around stereotypical men doing Man Stuff, don’t you ever want to explore your other interests? And if you don’t want to talk to women just because they’re women…what’s up with that?

        • Heather

          I think LW probably has a deep seated issue with female friendship and doesn’t realize it, like she got burned by a bad female friendship that went south and she’s protecting herself. I say that because I was exactly like her until someone called me out on it and I realized I was covering up a very deep hurt I’d never addressed from my high school best friend.

          • Jess

            This is *exactly* what I was doing for a long long time.

            I really really feel for LW and kind of just want to hug her and say, “It’s ok to have a split wedding party or uneven sides or reduce the number of people on your husbands side. It’s also going to be ok to make friends that are girls.”

  • Kayjayoh

    I’m glad Liz addressed the “I don’t get along with most other women” thing. That always makes me a bit sad when I hear it. I think she said pretty much anything I was going to say on that topic.

    On the wedding parties thing, I do have a lot of close friends, male and female. Yet while my husband had 7 people standing up with him (including his sister) I just had one, my own sister. And it was fine. Part of it was that so many of my other close friends were doing other things, like stage managing or performing the ceremony. Part of it is that I didn’t want to separate my friends into wedding party people and non wedding party people. My sister, also a close friend was an obvious choice, and just having her meant not having to rank my other friends.

    And it mattered not a wit that the “sides” were uneven. Just like it didn’t matter that my husband had all his groomsmen in matching vests and cravats and that the two sisters (his and mine) just wore their own dresses and didn’t match anyone. What mattered was that they loved us and were there for us, just like all of our other friends and relatives in attendance.

  • Jess

    I’m going to take a deep breath and admit that probably 6 years ago and maybe even more recently, I could have written the parts about not getting along with tons of other girls and priding myself on being mostly friends with guys.

    Girls have always been really tough for me.

    Part of this is because I spent a lot of time growing up being teased/bullied by other girls – for being smart, for being skinny, for always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time or daydreaming – and it felt safer just to reject girls as friends than try year after year to make friends and then be dumped a few months later.

    I formed friendships with a group of guys – they said weird and goofy stuff and liked to read the same stuff I did. They didn’t make reject me for it.

    The other part of this is because I didn’t feel like I fit the stereotypes about girls and women that I heard (from media, from school, from other girls). I didn’t realize that *most* girls and women aren’t like that, that stereotypes are inherently not true. I just figured something really was wrong with me, and that if I didn’t fit in with the Girl Stereotype, I should probably just go join up with the boys.

    I pushed away a lot of people that are really smart and kind because of this. It makes me sad, for my young self who was so scared and missed out on women who could have been great relationships, and for my current self as I’m trying to plan out my bachelorette & bridal shower and have a really small friend list. It feels like I’m letting down the women planning for me by not having a tribe of sorority sisters (or whatever) to invite.

    I still don’t fit all the Girl Stereotypes and there are still a lot of girls that I struggle to be around out of fear (see: all my previous comments about R’s sister), but there are a lot of girls out there that I really like to spend time with, that I have great discussions with, and that are just generally fun.

    I’m trying more and more to be open to them, and it is scary, but it’s been good, too.

    • Kayjayoh

      There was a period of time, early on in college, when most of my friends were guys. The roommates in my first apartment were guys. The friends I stayed in touch from high school the most were guys. The first friends I made in classes were guys. The people I spent most of my hobby times with were guys. And then things started shifting. I’m not exactly sure when or how, but I started connecting with the other geeky women in our shared hobby, and we started bonding other the experience of *being women in this geeky hobby*. And then we started collectively calling the guys on some of their shit. And then…and then we were a band of women to be reckoned with, and the dudes were perhaps a little scared of us.

      Now my friend group, as a 40 year old, is a pretty even mix, and I love it that way. Being the sole woman in a group of dudes usually meant I had to smile and laugh when they were being sexist, because no one was around to back me up. And they weren’t bad guys. Just…guys surrounded by other guys.

      • Jess

        I wonder how much of it was just… women growing up and owning the fact that they, too, were into something and being vocal about it?

        I know for me, a lot of my recent experience has been meeting women who aren’t afraid of who they are and aren’t trying to fit into a stereotype any more, which allows them to talk about whatever they truly like and feel.

        It’s felt a lot different than the way girls I knew growing up were – like we were all trying to play at being grown women and none of us really knew what that meant?

    • Dri


      If you aren’t a traditional girl growing up and feel pressure from other girls to conform, it can be hard to get over that. It feels better to say “I’m too cool for girls cuz I’m like guys and everyone knows guys are above petty crap” than “I’m different and it hurts that people won’t like me for it.” Really, it’s a way of using sexism to improve your own social standing. I totally did this for a while… until I joined a women’s rugby team in college and met a ton of other women who weren’t “traditional.” Then it clicked. It can be hard to change the habits you formed in emotional self-defense.

      • Jess

        Emotional self-defense – this is exactly what it was. I’m still trying to let go of a lot of it.

        It’s kind of funny, but a lot of my closest guy friends are the reason I started opening up to girls. They had other girl friends that they hung around with or dated that showed me that not all other girls were out to get me.

      • Violet

        Jess and Dri… y’all are some wise ladies.

    • Bsquillo

      Yup, I also relate to many parts of this letter- not in a “I don’t get along with women” way, but in a “I found it hard to relate to female friends” way.

      Largely because of my chosen career path and hobbies, I have always had more male friends than female friends. There (sadly) aren’t as many female jazz musicians- though the tide is turning!- and there were especially few of them growing up in a not-so-hip town in the South. I was just always around more dudes who shared my interests and pursuits, so naturally, we became friends more easily.

      I also think I’m not a “best friend person” in general, so by the time I graduated college and moved out to Colorado for grad school, I’m not sure I could have identified any clear choices for bridal party members from my existing friends. Luckily, I met two of my current best friends (both women) in my first year living out here, and asked them to be bridespeople. I also had my brother stand on my side.

      I will admit that oddly enough, I’m actually finding female friendships way easier to make as I get older. Maybe it’s maturity, or having more shared life experiences, or the fact that everyone starts to become more comfortable with their true selves in their mid-late twenties? Is being a late friendship-bloomer a thing?

      Anyways, know that you’re not alone, odd-bridal-party-people!

      • Jess

        It sounds like you, me, and Kayjayoh all are having similar experiences when it comes to making women friends later in life! It’s kind of a relief, to be honest.

      • Sara

        Oh I am not a best friend person at all. I think I tend to put a lot of expectations on a person when I consider them a ‘best friend’ and tend to ruin the relationship. After the last person I considered my bff blew up at me for something, I decided that title was reserved for my brothers (who can never get rid of me). :)

        • Lisa

          Similar situation here. If I had to call anyone my “best” friends, those would be my sisters because they’re the people I’m in the most contact with on a regular basis. Beyond that I have my close/older friends that are relationships I cherish even if I don’t get to talk to them but once every month or two. Sometimes in daily conversation I use “best friend” to describe some of the latter group because it seems to indicate a level of closeness that “friend” doesn’t convey.

  • Just read this essay last night and thought it might be of interest to the author and other women who have always preferred male friends! https://www.buzzfeed.com/jayasaxena/one-of-the-guys?utm_term=.cjNlPZrmb#.qgyvw7BYa

  • Booknerd

    The part that stood out for me was the reaction of the LW’s boyfriend. I struggled with this as well in picking my wedding party. I don’t make friends easily and my 3 closest friends all live far away, I moved away from my college town and one is across the Atlantic, but I still knew for sure I wanted them to be in the party. That being said my bf is a major social butterfly, and immediately picked 4 guys he wanted to be in it. I don’t think he thought it through too well and in hindsight he wouldn’t have asked his high school friend to be in it, but he did and you can’t take that back. He became closer friends with another man in the last year (2 year engagement) and wanted to include him. I know unmatched parties are a thing, and I did a ton of research and reading on it (thanks APW) but I I couldn’t make peace with it. I told him flat out that I do struggle to make friends and while I was happy with the three girls I chose, knowing I don’t have a wealth of friends to pick another one stings, and is a sore spot for me. Once I explained the possibility that I might be walking down the aisle and thinking about my friend insecurities instead of my FH he understood. He did say he regretted promising a spot to his high school friend and wished he would have waited until closer to the wedding to pick a party. Might have been selfish of me not to allow him to increase his party, but if the groom doesn’t even consider how this might affect her on the wedding day I’d be pretty upset as well.

    That being said if the couple was ok with her having a bunch of bridesmates instead than problem solved!

  • Carolyn S

    I think an important conversation to have here is “what is it about groomsmen/attendants that really matters to you?” Because a lot of the responses below are sort of ignoring that you really don’t NEED attendants in any logical sense. My husband has no “best friends” and so initially really didn’t want any “groomsmen” and was actually fine with having just family period at the wedding (let alone in the wedding party). I have one friend who was important to me to include in the day, and when I explained that mostly I just wanted someone to hang out with while I got my hair done and dressed, and I wanted it to be that friend he understood and found a similar friend to hang out with during the day. They weren’t formal attendants, and no one stood at the front with us, but they did sign the register. So sit down and figure out why those 11 people need to be groomsmen specifically and you might be able to work out some sort of arrangement where they are involved but don’t have to stand at the front.

  • planningforfun

    For our wedding my spouse did have a vision of large bridal parties. But the logistics (guests had to come in from all over the country) seemed daunting, and the social implications seemed complicated to me. We compromised and had only 1 attendant each, a best man and maid if honor. From there, I ordered corsages and boutonnieres, for every single other person we wanted to honor, and made sure to list them in the program, and if they wanted a “job” we assigned one. We took photos with all of those people, hung out with them, and didn’t have to leave anyone out or have anyone feel un-included.

  • Amy March

    Maybe talk to your boyfriend (now, before he becomes a fiancé) about engaging with the reality of your life. Telling you to just ask people seems really dismissive of who you are and how you live your life. Talk about if you’re cool with him being totes traditional, ask yourself if this is just his one quirk or if there’s a bigger issue about dreams meeting reality for the two of you to work through.

    • Violet

      Yeah, we’re discussing the friend issue, but I think this is also pretty clearly a relationship issue.

  • Kate

    Occasionally I feel myself hesitating to call out male friends on misogynistic comments because of a little voice that says “Don’t! They’ll take your cool girl card away!”
    And I have to catch myself and remind myself that cool girls take white boy tears in their morning coffee.

    • Sigh

      Only white boys, eh?

    • Gregory

      I could feel the same way when I hear misandrist remarks. Yep, I hear them everyday on TV, radio, at work, in public and in this comment forum. I just chuckle and roll on. I am secure in who I am and an occasional ditzy comment or two is not going to ruin my day.

  • KC

    I prefer female friends to male friends, generally, but I also get how, if you’re not interested in 1. the same shows, 2. shopping, 3. makeup (or in various more-specific contexts, children/diapering/etc., or MLM female-targeted businesses, or scrapbooking, or the current dieting movement), then… sometimes you’re looking for a bit of a needle in a haystack with small-talk in some groups, and it can be *hard* to find that other person who is looking a bit glazed-eyed and wondering why all these people are so excited about a particular brand of shoes (or whatever). In that outnumbered-feeling context, it’s easy to assume that “others like you” don’t exist. I tend to do best off the cuff with small talk with graduate students who are interested in their topic, or with people who are interested in their job, or with archivists/librarians. (and, of course, once you *do* find your match, then it’s very exciting)

    Not that there isn’t ever common ground with “the normal women”, but if your media choices diverge from average, that’s one major conversation topic downed, and if they’re not interested in their jobs and can’t identify any hobbies, that’s another one down, and if you’re not interested/educated in most of the things that get discussed regarding how to accomplish traditional gender presentation (aka the conversational trail that goes something like “oh, what’s that lip gloss?” “it’s Y, from Z! I love Z so much!” “yeah, me too! have you tried…”), and gossip makes you cringe, and they can’t remember what the last book they read was, then it can be *hard* to hunt down that topic that you can both talk about – and many people just give up on you when you can’t intelligently meet their biggest topics of interest (“D is just so *sparkly* now!” “oh, is D another makeup brand, then?” “no, D is a pop star”).

    Anyway. I see how one could easily conclude that one is not really excited about female friends if one’s personal “topics of interest” diverge sufficiently from the most common gendered-female “topics of interest” within the groups one has easy access to – and more so if one’s “topics of interest” match the most common gendered-male ones. For instance, if someone’s main interest is sports, I can easily see it being more straightforward to find men who share that common ground than women! (there *are* women out there who are into sports, but they’re harder to hunt down in non-sports-related locations)

    • a single sarah

      The weather! It’s time honored conversation starter (or small talk) because it’s something that you can rely on everyone having experience with. All the better if you’re coming from different locations, because then you have more perspectives. See also, asking what people have been eating recently. (Though that one feels less time honored and more my go-to.)

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    Lopsided bridal party. I’m firmly against having people in your bridal party for the sake of numbers. Have who you want for bridesmaids and enjoy your awesome wedding ?

    • Lisa

      Yes! Putting random restrictions on what a bridal party should be or look like for the sake of appearances compounds stress and forces you to make big leaps to ask people to whom you are not particularly close to make big monetary and time sacrifices for your wedding.

      My little sister was asked to be one of three bridesmaids in a wedding and was really surprised by the invitation because she only knew the girl from working on a class project together and hanging out with her once or twice since. Apparently the bride was operating under the idea that she had to have an equal wedding party and that maids must really be “maids,” which cut out several married female family members to whom she was very close. The MOH had to drop out of the wedding last minute, and my sister ended up getting promoted into that spot. It was an incredibly awkward situation for her because she barely knew the bride but didn’t want to let her down once she’d already agreed to be in the bridal party. Yeah, some of that awkwardness is on her, but she was young (20) and didn’t know how to say no. It would have better for all parties if the bride had been able to reconcile the bridal party options she had with the idea that was in her head before inviting practical strangers into a very important day in her life.

      • Greta


    • Cellistec

      Same here. Seven groomsmen, five bridesmaids. So not a huge difference, but it was noticeable, and I’m pretty sure no one cared. (Except me, mentally screaming SEVEN GROOMSMEN?!? But at least it wasn’t 11, I guess.)

      • Vilmos Kovacs

        I KNOW. Herding cats and herding groomsmen should be interchangeable phrases.

        • Cellistec

          Right?! I mean, bridesmaids pretty much herd themselves, in my experience.

    • Keri

      Also, there’s no law that they all have to stand up there next to your during the ceremony, or only on one side. If that tradition makes you feel uneasy, skip it.

  • S

    “I gravitate to male friends, male discussion topics, and male interests.” “I would not describe myself as a tomboy…I like makeup and glitter and all things girl.” “I had little to contribute to the conversations dominating the girls side of the table.” I’m confused. Which is it? Are you interested in “girl stuff” or not? And if you are, then…why can’t you talk to other women about that stuff? And if you’re not into glitter and makeup, then why can’t you talk to other women who aren’t either?

    • KC

      I think you could potentially enjoy doing “girl stuff” but not be particularly interested in talking about it, or not be interested in talking in specific modes about it? There are people who love eating but don’t really have an interest in talking about food, for instance, or who love music but don’t really want to discuss the music in technical terms or “analyze it to death” or whatever.

      Also, things can be a superficial point of commonality without being an actual point of commonality – two people might both “love cooking” but for one person that’s home-style casseroles concocted from whatever’s in the fridge, designed to feed a roomful of people and the other person buys every ingredient in a specialty recipe down to the specific varietal of heirloom carrots and plates each serving Just So with the attendant garnishes – those two are not necessarily going to have a huge amount of success in talking about cooking, even though they both love it.

      (I’m hoping the LW saying she “just doesn’t like other girls” is just a sort of lazy approximation or generalization of her interactions; the rest mostly makes sense to me, but that line in specific is somewhat perturbing)

    • Angie

      LW never mentioned the age difference between herself and her SIL’s bridal party, but my brother is five years younger than me and when I was in his wedding the ladies conversations were dominated with college, first jobs, moving home, etc. She may have just been at a difference place than they were. Heck, she could have been a lot younger.

      I feel bad for LW. I feel like she was trying to explain why she doesn’t have lady friends (who knows, maybe she just doesn’t make friends well) and her real question was what to do about the wedding, and instead she was told to go make friends…

  • Vilmos Kovacs

    Real talk: I love my female friends and I have a lovely and supportive group of them from all different stages in my life. But I had HALF the number of attendants my husband did. Because being a bridesmaid is hard work and a commitment. I didn’t have that many people I would feel comfortable asking that level of time, money, attention from*. Being a groomsman is SIGNIFICANTLY EASIER in our social circle. So he asked all his bros. The photographer made sure the pictures looked nice and not lopsided. (*I know lots of people have had very chill bridal parties – I even think I achieved that to a large extent (people picked out their own dresses, I paid for them and for hair and make up, hen party was local and low key) but it is still generally more of a commitment for ladies than for men). Uneven numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen can make life significantly less stressful.

    • Meredith

      Yep. So much more is expected of the bride’s side than the grooms. Luckily I have a bunch of sister’s and I only had them as my bridesmaids because I knew I could depend on them enough and they wouldn’t mind the money/time. Though they did tease me about having to throw me a shower because those do kind of suck. ;)

  • savannnah

    I am on the opposite side of this kinda both in regard to the bridal party and wedding guests in general. I have a lot of close friends from high school, college and work that I regularly keep in touch with and visit either in my own city or scatted on the east coast. My fiance has moved from the mid-west to the east coast and is much more introverted than I and travels for work. This means in the three years he has been here he has yet to make any friends or really be able to keep in touch with many from home. I think the comparison is hard for him and many of his friends who are invited to our wedding are people he has not talked to in years-something that was difficult for me to understand. We are having the wedding in my home town and he is very worried he wont have any friends there and its hard to know what to tell him.

    • Carolyn S

      Not always a solution that works for everyone, but this was our situation, and to manage it we cut our guest list down to essentially family. Husband wasn’t comfortable with a wedding that was 99% my friends and family, so we kept it small and it evened it out.

    • Kendra D

      I was the one with almost no friends or family at our wedding. And I was so glad that my husband’s friends and family were able to be there. Of our 70 guests, 12 were my friends/family. And I wouldn’t have changed it. I would have been so sad if we had cut his dear friends or family just to keep things even.

  • C

    I’m a woman. More of my friends are male than female and non-binary. Therefore, I had more men in our wedding party (we had two women, one stood on each side because we thought it looked better). We both had best men. It was fine. Invite whoever you want to stand with you.

  • SuperDaintyKate

    I am so struck by poor LW’s fiance’s lack of sensitivity. I understand that his groomsmen are important to him, and so is tradition. But what he wants taps into a deep insecurity: feeling friendless. Weddings have a way of digging up whatever deep baggage you have that you think you’ve dealt with, but really haven’t. It sounds like this is one of them for the poor LW. This is a place where it is important for him to compromise.

    I really struggled with this issue, too. My husband has a group of 5 best friends who have all loved each other and been super close since elementary school (and are now in their 30s). I have one oldest girlfriend, and a lot of newer, not super close friendships. The fact that he knew exactly what he wanted and had people to go to, to throw him a huge bachelor party, really fed my insecurities about a lack of friends, and general worries that I am… unliked. And you know what? We compromised. We talked about my insecurities, and wound up having a really informal, non-official bridal party. My one old friend and my sister and his five best friends all hung out together, with us, that morning. We all came in together, with us leading our parade of friends and parents. It didn’t remove the sting completely– that takes therapy– but it helped my feelings and our relationship that we worked through that together.

    I hear that he is traditional and loves his pals. But how is it fair for his desire for tradition to trump your feelings and insecurities? It sounds like this is a place where you need to have some real talk about how his actions are hurting you, and for him to work with you to find something that you can both be comfortable with.

    • Violet

      Exactly! Like so many things in wedding planning, it’s not necessarily about what it IS, but about what we fear it MEANS. Uneven numbers (what it IS) are not a big deal. What LW fears it MEANS is that she is somehow defective for not having as many close friends as her boyfriend. Which is obviously a really painful thing to be thinking about yourself! If LW’s boyfriend is having trouble hearing and supporting her about that, that’s where I’d start.

    • Her Lindsayship

      Seriously, LW’s fiance should know her and her life well enough by this point to understand that “just ask your friends” is not a solution for her, and it’s extremely thoughtless of him to throw it out as one. Glad your husband was more sensitive about the whole thing!

    • CrazyCatLibrarian

      Exactly. My fiancé could easily have 10 people in his party, because his close group of friends have all known each other for at least 20 years, but coming up with 4 was a stretch for me, and one of them is my sister. I was in a sorority, and at one point could have come up with plenty, but it’s been 10 years since college and I’ve always been horrible at keeping in touch with people. Two of the other three in my party live out of the state, and the one in state just has a baby. So that leaves my sister and my mom planning everything with me, and I honestly don’t even know if half of my bridal party will be able to attend a shower/bach party. My SO knows that I’ve never been super outgoing or social, and only have a few close friends. When it came down to it, he was fine with limiting his side of the party (my need for symmetry won out but that’s just a personal preference and can totally be ignored by other people in a similar situation). He was willing to be flexible, and all of his friends who weren’t chosen either understood or honestly didn’t give a shit. I think the fiancé in this story might also be assuming that all 11 of his friends would be horribly offended if they weren’t asked, which may be the case for a few but I seriously doubt all of them will be upset.

      • Sara

        This is my (and my fiance’s) exact situation, and our exact solution. Also my exact thoughts so basically… +1!!!

    • Gregory

      Hey, hey, hey! It’s HIS wedding, too! Sometimes it just takes a man to bring the woman out in a girl.


    • raccooncity

      I had 2 and 2 bridesmen/bridesmaids. Mr. RC had 4 guys. meh, that’s how it was. the officiant was a lady and women did all the speaking, pretty much, so i felt ok in my feminist heart about it.

      • raccooncity

        Here’s a pic of my little group (it’s a silly one, and thus a fan favourite):

        • BSM

          Stop it with the photos of you in your dress again. TOO PRETTY.

        • Lisa

          Hold up. Not the point, but… did you have a gold sequin jacket, too??

          • raccooncity

            I did! After a long search for a cream coloured jacket that wasn’t 300 bucks, it turns out H&M had something perfect all along. I still wear it to parties.

          • Lisa

            I love mine! I bought the Joan Rivers one that was in the bridal covers round-up on APW. I’ve worn it a few times since then. It’s the best and looks awesome in the wedding photos!

  • Ashley Reinke

    I have also always found myself with more guy friends than girls, until the past several years. Not that I now would have 11 women I consider close enough to stand by my side… but going through these mid-life transitions really proves how valuable hanging out with my female friends is. I’ve had plenty of awkward baby shower/bachelorette party experiences… but those aren’t my friends, and that isn’t my life. Feel good about the friends you have, and the life you have, and own it.

    My husband seriously wanted 11 guys on his side,and I had… one? I ended up with two, since as we got closer to the date I realized just how much support I was receiving from a very close friend. I had to convince him that: yes, it is absolutely fine to have asymetrical parties, and that it didn’t make sense to me to have 20+% of our guests standing with us. I had to convince myself that I wasn’t incompetent because I only wanted a couple people up there with me. Our wedding was small, and in the end he had his two brothers by his side. I came to the conclusion that I value quality over quantity, and my friends are invaluable. My husband had to accept that as well! (Nothing wrong with either way, just different!!)

    And I’m sure someone has said this, but put your guy friends by your side if that’s what you want!!

  • Lexipedia

    Oh gosh, the BF and I are talking about engagement and I had this exact nightmare. I moved away from a small community of friends when I graduated from high school and didn’t really remain in contact with them. Then I graduated from college and have a few close friends from there, who I still see fairly regularly. In grad school I developed two new close female friends, but also went through an awful breakup with an emotionally abusive boyfriend, and so I really stepped back from many of our more mutual friends. Then I moved to a city where I knew nobody, and made work friends but not super close outside of that. I have four step siblings, my brother nearest in age who I’m closest with, but when our parents got married he flatly refused to participate in anything “bridal party”.

    Whereas the boyfriend has a close-knit group of friends from his midwestern childhood that somehow all moved to the same city as adults, is five years older than me yet still close with his college roommates, and built really close friendships at his job. Also has a brother.

    We have had a few discussions about the wedding (I have set silly conditions on waiting to get *officially* engaged) and the other day he mentioned his four obvious groomsman and two obvious groomsladies. At which point I panicked and started doing math. There are three women I love and adore, in three different cities, who aren’t close with each other. Being far away from many people makes this harder, but who would be bridesmaids, come to a bachelorette, host a shower (these have all sorts of tradition in my family, but I’m far away from all of them)?! My female aunts, cousins, grandma, etc. might not be able to make it to the wedding because of the travel, so where is my lady contingent? I know that this is silly, and that balance isn’t important, but it gave me a bit of the sads that I don’t have the same thing as he does.

    • Morgan D

      I’m in a very similar situation! Here’s how we’re planning on getting around it:

      We’re not big on tradition for tradition’s sake, so something we’ve toyed with is having a cumulative “wedding party,” instead of people assigned to particular sides. We’d probably still each have a point person (best man, and maid of honor or bridesman of honor) just to help clarify roles day-of.

      Instead of having people in the party assigned to particular sides, they’d probably stand all together or mixed across both sides to create symmetry. This makes extra sense for us since we won’t be having a church wedding and would like members of the party to each play active roles in the ceremony (with readings, contributing a violin piece, etc).

    • I had a night-before-the-wedding shower/party with my girlfriends because the wedding was in another country and my girlfriends were scattered in different places and not friends with each other… The friends who came to the wedding were able to come to the party the night before (after the rehearsal). It was pretty low-key, but for me the important thing was just spending some time with these girlfriends.

  • I so feel for you! My husband and I dealt with a similar issue and ultimately had a wedding party of 7 groomsmen and 3 bridesmaids. I was reallllly worried about the unevenness but ultimately just said screw it! I’m sure some people thought it was weird, but it would have been weirder for me to ask friends who I wasn’t as close with to be in my wedding just for the sake of balance. I also totally agree with the closing paragraph – that weddings are really a reflection of a particular moment in time. I have some friends who I’ve become really close with now who weren’t even invited to our wedding! And we also have some members of the wedding party who have become less close.

    • I don’t get why people would think it’s weird. Isn’t it even weirder to think/believe that these two people have the EXACT same number of close friends? Isn’t that an even weirder coincidence?

      • BSM

        YES. This is what I kept saying. Wouldn’t it be way more awkward for me to inflate my relationships with a few women in my life solely for the purpose of having even sides (I had 3 bridesmaids while my husband had 6 groomsmen) than for them to be lopsided?

        ETA: I used “women” in my comment because that was exactly what people expected me to do. I’m sure if I’d suggested adding 3 more men to my side, people would have thought that was just as weird as having lopsided sides.

      • Ha! Such a great point.

  • clarkesara

    Why not have your guy friends be your attendants?

    It weirds me out how gender-normative weddings are. Like we can’t admit that women have male friends, and vice versa, lest we ruin the delicate marriage juju.

    I have female friends, but I also have guy friends (not to mention my three brothers!), and there’s no way I would erase my relationships with close male friends and family on my wedding day. If I were having a bridal party. Which I am not. For the 2 seconds my fiance and I considered attendants, it was going to be my three brothers on my side and friends of his choice on his side (he’s an only). Who cares about gender symmetry?

    • Jenna

      The writer did mention this possibility but her boyfriend apparently is traditional enough that he doesn’t even understand it let alone see it as a solution.

      Which of course I don’t think means it shouldn’t be one, just pointing out that she said it.

      • clarkesara

        Sure, but a lot of people read these threads after the fact for their own advice. It’s weird that wedding parties are so gender segregated.

  • Anon

    I’m kinda on the LWs side with this one, guys. While I totally understand what everyone is saying, and that some of her points are sexist, I think the underlying point here is that the LW has more male friends. I don’t think it’s right to say that she needs to “find new females.” There is nothing inherently wrong with the LW having more male friends, and honestly I think that’s an incredibly rude thing to say. If we truly aren’t being sexist, then we shouldn’t be telling the LW how she needs to find new females and how female relationships are more valuable.

    I actually really relate to the LW on some levels. I too grew up very close with my brother and have always tended to have more male friends than female. While I’m never one to say “I just don’t get along with girls,” I’ve always felt more comfortable around males because that’s what I’ve grown up with. I don’t think this makes me mysoginistic. When I am around my male friends, I call them out for their sexism, regardless of whether there are other women around or not. To me, it should not matter if I have another woman to “back me up” as some people have commented. I should be standing on my own.

    • Rhie

      Took the words right out of my mouth/keyboard.

    • tr

      Yup, I’m a classic “girl’s girl”. My best friend, on the other hand, has always been a “man’s woman”. She’s a bigger feminist than I am! She loves the traditional “girly” things, she gets along great with other girls at an acquaintance level, and goodness knows that she’s a pro-woman as they come. And yet, at the end of the day, 90% of her friends are men. That’s just who she naturally clicks with.

      Some guys naturally get along best with other guys. Some guys have tons of super close female friends. We don’t say there’s anything inherently wrong with either of those guys, so why does it have to be different with women?

  • Jenna

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the actual problem here is in something (perhaps simply communication style?) between you and your fiance. It may not be anything serious, but that’s the thing to solve.

    If you tend to have more male friends (for whatever the reason – though I did find “I find the topics dominate the girls’ end of the table boring or baffling – kind of offensive. What kind of women do you even know? My female friends and I talk about everything from politics to economics to travel to farts. How is that ‘boring’ just because we have vaginas?), and if your fiance can’t budge on having 11 groomsmen, either he’s going to have to budge on having matched-size parties, or on you having bridesmen. The idea that he’s not willing to or it hasn’t come up points to a problem. Talk to him.

    When he says “just ask your friends”, it points to him not knowing you well enough to know who your friends are, no? Isn’t that a problem? Perhaps not a red flag but maybe a yellowish-orange one? And it points to him not understanding that you don’t have a lot of female friends, which implies he doesn’t even really know you that well, or if he does, he expects you to magically change and become more ‘female’ now that you are getting married?

    I’d put it like this: “You say ‘just ask my friends’. You know my friends” (at least I hope he knows your friends). “Who would you recommend I ask? Which female friends do you think I have that I could ask?” Either he’ll come up with people you barely know, at which point you can point that out (and ask him why he thinks they’re good enough friends to stand with you – does he not already know you are basically acquaintances?), or he’ll have to admit that there really isn’t anyone to ask.

    And then you can talk about why he wouldn’t see that before, apparently doesn’t really know who you are, doesn’t know this basic fact about you (that you don’t have many female friends), doesn’t seem to know who your friends are, and puts tradition over your happiness.

    That last bit makes him sound awful – I’m sure he’s not, and it’s something that can be worked through. But plainly, that’s what it looks like from here.

  • caron

    You can totally go for lopsided wedding parties. At the time of our wedding planning, I had a handful of female friends I would consider dear and special to me. But I wasn’t actually close enough to any of those ladies to be comfortable making demands on their time and effort by roping them into being bridesmaids (and/or many were dealing with new/ impending motherhood /studies/ demanding jobs/ very rough periods of illness/ other side of the country/world)- I was just happy if they could make it to the wedding! So I opted for no bridesmaids. Husbandguy wanted his two closest friends up front with him for the ceremony, as informal groomsmen, and I asked my brother to be my bride’s man. Sorted.

  • MM

    Why aren’t you including your brothers in your bridal posse?

  • Meg

    What if you get along with other women just fine and but still don’t have a ton of close female friends? I just kept in better touch with the guys I was friends with over the years than women. It’s not an internalized misogyny thing, since I work with all women and LOVE it and love hanging out with them outside work. It’s just hard to get to the “BEST FRIEND” level. I had a knack for becoming best friends with the girl who ends up moving away at the end of the year throughout school and my college best friend had a serious case of wanderlust too and now lives on the other side of the country. It’s honestly just bad luck on my part. We’re still “social media” close… I don’t know. This article was sort of a kick in the gut as a girlfriendless lady, who it’s definitely not about internalized misogyny since I’m a big annoying pants wearing lady loving feminist :(

  • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

    Someone might have already addressed this but:

    1. I feel ya hon–you’re not alone. I had one (two?) female friends before I went to an all women’s college. I just didn’t (and don’t) get along with a lot of women (to be fair, I sometimes have the same problem with guys..many things that people my age find interesting I just don’t understand). There are females out there that are awesome you just haven’t met them yet.
    2. If fiance wants an even bridal party—have your guy friends! Have your grandma! Your mom! Have whoever you want! Bridal parties are supposed to be about people you love so much you want to honor them on your wedding day. That’s not limited to gender. If fiance freaks out about this, you may just need to have a conversation about not having a lot of female friends (which he really might not have noticed).


  • Varenna

    I didn’t want a bridal party, but it was important to my boyfriend that he mark a few guys in his life as special and share that with them or whatever. I said okay, but if I have one bridesmaid I am going to have 5. He has 3 groomsmen. So they will all be processing (as individuals not coupled off pairs because it has always seemed weird to me when people who sometimes just met THAT day are expected to walk down arm in arm because gender) and then sitting in the first row, not standing on either side of us.

  • nutbrownrose

    I would just like to point out that I’ve been to a lovely wedding where there were 3 bridesmaids and 6 groomspeople. It was a Catholic wedding, which is about as traditional as you can get, in my world of Christian white people, and no one was fazed. Or particularly surprised when each bridesmaid was walked down the aisle by 2 groomspeople (in the case where the best woman, the groom’s sister, was one of the groomspeople, it looked like she and the bridesmaid in the group were escorting the groomsman in the group. It was great!). Because as people, the bride is a quieter person who makes friends more slowly and hangs on to them forever, and the groom is a social butterfly who’s never not surrounded by as many people as he can convince to do his crazy ideas as possible. It spoke to their personalities, but not in a bad way. And I think it would be fine with even more.

    A thought, LW: since you are a “guys gal,” I bet some of your best guy friends are currently standing up for your husband. You have a total of, what, 12 people who want to stand up for you and your husband in your marriage, right? Why not have your maid of honor on your side, and also your five favorite guys? That satisfies your fiance’s desire for equal numbers, and is honest to the way you make friends. And all of them get to support you guys, which is what they want in the end anyway.

  • Kathryn

    I always double take when I hear women use that “I don’t get along with women,” like whhhhhaaaa?? Imagine if a man said that! I’m sorry, but there’s no excuse to group half the world’s population as people you don’t “get.” If you’re a woman, and have interests you don’t associate with women, doesn’t it stand to reason that it’s your assumption about how women relate, and not the multiplicity of personalities, tastes, intellect and interests, that’s at fault here. The example of being in her sister-in-law’s bridal party doesn’t exactly work either, of course she had more in common and was drawn to her brother and the guys she’s know all her life, rather than a bunch of women she’s never met before–especially if she’s putting out that “I’m not into you” vibe!

  • Having bridal parties with dozens of attendants is pretty rare where I’m from. The average is 3-4 each side, unless the couple come from a large family you don’t see many more. Regardless of numbers, it’s best to find something that works for both sides. I used to work in bridal and often had brides scrambling to find more bridesmaids to make up numbers, if the groom decided he wanted another groomsman or two in the party. It was kinda sad because the bridesmaid knew she wasn’t the first pick :(

  • jt

    You guys, can we have a separate thread about how to just “meet more female friends” in our adult lives? It’s hard, y’all!

  • Heather Glover

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  • Huckleduck

    I’m having this issue but opposite. My sweetheart is a bit of a loner, whereas I’m a social butterfly and have many significant friendships. Trying to figure out how to make our wedding party look like one big group instead of having “separate camps” so to speak.

  • Nancygspruill4

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  • REM

    I don’t think what the writer-inner is saying is meant to be sexist. I also happen to have mostly male friends and struggled to find bridesmaids for my wedding (I ended up having “bridesmen,” also). It wasn’t because I thought less of other women, I just happened to involve myself in activities (in school/college) that were mostly populated by men for whatever reason. I’m sure there are plenty of other women out there who have the same interests I do, I just happened to run in a circle where there weren’t many of them.

  • Gregory

    He wants eleven groomsmen? Eleven? How ostentatious. If you were my sister I would tell you you are making a big mistake. Based on your comments, he is nothing like you. BTW, is he gay?

  • Annie

    Just… Wow… The fact that this person is writing in asking for help and the immediate response is that she’s “sexist” for not having many female friends is freaking sad and insulting. She’s asking for a solution to a pretty basic problem but the priority message she receives is that her personality is defective, and many people agree. Seriously!? I am so embarrassed to read this article and thread. Don’t worry Row Kat, I’m also a skinny female with mostly male friends. Have your guys stand on your side.

  • LadyWoman

    I’ve got significantly more long-term friendships than husband so we had to flex. We knew one of our primary goals was keeping things simple and smallish and that husband wouldn’t be comfortable having random acquaintances/distant relatives stand with him, so I knew I’d be cutting some. However, our guest list wasn’t long so I also knew I’d be able to spend time with my friends even if they weren’t in the wedding party and it wouldn’t be one of those things where they felt like unrelated spectators at an event wondering why they even bothered. I’ve come to see that’s probably the worst part of not being included in the party as that might be your only chance for quality time (or ANY time) with the bride/groom; if you’re really good friends THAT sucks.

    I did have a rough time making cuts (cut my “ideal” list by over 50%), but I knew that ultimately my friends were understanding adults who’d get it and be happy for me either way.

    There was one friend I thought would be more seriously hurt than the others who weren’t included, so I asked her to do the reading (and I wanted that reading, it was the only non vows/walking down the aisle portion of the ceremony, I didn’t just make up something to placate her).

    All that to say, you can do it! Someone will undoubtedly end up with some unhappy feelings, but hopefully those are temporary and you, fiancee, and friends can all be understanding and okay with it in the long term.

  • MDBethann

    I know I”m really late to the party with this response, but I was in Scotland for vacation.

    Anyway – I was in the flip position of the LW for my wedding. I had a number of close friends I wanted in our wedding but my husband didn’t (his cousin & his BIL were in his 1st wedding and he didn’t want to ask them again, though I think they would have been happy to participate). I had 4 women who were “musts” – my sister (MOH), my BFF, and my 2 college roommates/besties – and then there was my husband’s sister and 2 other close friends of mine. He had no one. I felt he needed someone standing up with him and suggested either his sister or his dad (he’s close to both). Both he and his sister liked the idea and she totally ran with being the ‘Best Woman.” She wore a cool satin skirt with a tux-vest like top and I think it meant a lot more to her to stand up for HIM than it would have meant if she’d been on my side. My 4 besties were in the wedding party, along with my husband’s niece & nephew. My 2 other friends were our readers (definite honors and very budget friendly for them!)

    Our pictures were (and still are) lovely. Yes, there is a lot more turquoise in our photos because of the dresses, but the way our photographer grouped us, it didn’t really matter. They are lovely, the day was lovely, and so are our memories.

    I still wish my husband had more friends, but he’s an introvert and that really just isn’t him. I’m hoping that as our daughter gets older, he can form some friendships with other parents, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Elle2280

    I ran into this issue as well last year and opted to have my mom as my Maid of honor. It worked out great for me as she was already supporting me so much, in so many ways! My now husband, also had two “friends” bails within months of our big day as groomsmen and he asked one of my best friends who happens to be a man and his dad wound up being his best man. It worked out for us even better in the end. We felt as though it was meant to be in the end that way.

    Just remember to pick people who you want to be there, will support you through whatever you may throw at them and looking back in ten years you have a sense will still be around in your life even if it’s just occasional phone or email chats.

  • Carol

    Liz, you’re a monster.

    • Jane

      I’m sure Liz does not need me to defend her, but what are you really hoping to accomplish with a comment like that?
      No one here is going to try to stop you from disagreeing with Liz, but APW is not a place for personal attacks. They’re not consistent with the APW comment policy, which asks commenters to keep things civil.

  • Carol

    Liz, you’re a great example of “women I wouldn’t get along with”. She asked for help with wedding planning, not for your thoughts on feminism. Your attitude leaves me thoroughly grossed out.

    • Jane

      But the letter writer didn’t *just* ask for Liz’s advice about what to do in her current, specific situation. She decided to give a long, somewhat sexist, description of why she didn’t have female friends in the first place. I think it would have been weird for Liz to ignore the LW’s introduction to the issue. All things considered, Liz’s response gave the LW solid advice and a gentle nudge to reconsider something the LW thought was important enough to include in her question.

      Plus, this LW chose which website to submit her question to. It’s pretty common for Liz to respond to everything in a LW’s question, and to do so from a feminist perspective. Liz’s response was exactly in-line with what any APW reader should expect.

  • Cogey Marx

    The Row Cat – I totally understand where you’re coming from – and despite what some other ladies are saying on here, it’s not sexist, it’s not insulting, and it’s not weird. You are totally valid for feeling that way – during your (mine, too!) developmental years, you learned to socialize in a very male dominant environment. There are some women out there who have tons of lady friends, and it very well could be that they were raised among a lot of girls. I’m choosing my brothers and a few girlfriends as my bridesmaids, because it’s my day and they know me the best and they really are my best friends. You do you, girl! Your fiance should understand.