How To Incorporate Friends Into Your Wedding Without Having A Bridal Party

by Kristine Fellizar
Bride and groom with guests at wedding reception outside in the backyard.

Getting to celebrate your special day with the people you love most is one of the best parts about having a wedding. Traditionally, the couple will handpick a select few of their closest friends to be part of their wedding party. While it's fun to involve your friends in your big day, you don't need to have a wedding party in order to make that happen. In fact, experts say more and more couples are finding ways to incorporate their friends into their wedding without having a bridal party.

There are many reasons why people are choosing to opt out of having a bridal party. Some don't like the exclusivity of it, while others don't feel like the cost is necessary. As Sarah Chancey, wedding expert and founder of Chancey Charm, tells Bustle, "Asking friends to be a part of your big day without being a bridesmaid is an increasing trend we're seeing towards simplicity,"

Being part of a bridal party can get pretty pricey for your friends. According The Knot, bridesmaids are typically expected to cover their hotel and travel, their wedding ensemble, their share of throwing the bridal shower and bachelorette party, and of course, the gifts. On average, women who are part of a bridal party will spend almost $500, while men spend nearly $750. Cost alone can make someone decline being part of your wedding party.

So here are some ways to incorporate your friends into your wedding without having a bridal party, according to experts.


Have Your Friends Come To The Wedding Wearing Your Wedding Colors


It's not uncommon to have a bridesmaid or two who hate their bridesmaid dress. Luckily, if you don't have a bridal party, you won't have to deal with any complaints. Although your friends won't be wearing the exact same dress, they can still dress up in a way that makes them seem like they're part of the wedding. For instance, some brides will ask all of their close friends to wear their wedding colors and then they'll all take a photo together after the ceremony. "It's a great way to highlight your friends and give them the feeling of being in the bridal party without all the traditional pomp and circumstance of actually being in the bridal party," Jenna Miller, wedding expert and creative director of Here Comes The Guide, tells Bustle.


Let One Friend Officiate The Wedding And Give Other Friends Special Duties During The Ceremony

One of the most common ways is to have your friends involved is to ask one of them to officiate the wedding. In fact, The Knot's 2015 Real Weddings Study found that 40% of couples are asking friends to serve as wedding officiants. "There are a multitude of online locations to be able to become an officiant, and a close friend would be the best to reflect your personalities in the ceremony," Nicole Miskelley, wedding expert and owner of Marion Bridal.

Your friends can also perform readings, lead prayers, or sing songs during the ceremony. If there isn't a best man or ring bearer, you can always ask to have a close friend sit up front to hold the rings until they're needed. According to Miskelley, you can also incorporate friends by having them sign as witnesses to the union if it's required where you're getting married.


Gather Your Friends And Family Together For A "First Look"


Many couples are choosing to break the tradition of waiting until the actual ceremony to see each other by having a "first look." During a first look, the couple will typically take their wedding photos and get that out of the way before the ceremony begins. As Kylie Carlson, wedding expert and owner of The Wedding Academy, tells Bustle, it's a great opportunity to gather your close friends and family. "Bonus points if you have this moment photographed," she says. "This can be a really meaningful gesture for everyone, and you’ll be able to gift these photos as a ‘thank you!'"


Ask Your Friends To Be "Honored Guests"

"Ask friends to be 'honored guests' versus standing up as a bridal party attendant," Jennifer Charles, wedding planner with Something Fabulous, tells Bustle. "This gives friends an opportunity to be a part of the festivities." As part of being honored guests, you can ask your friends to walk down the aisle as part of the procession. You can give them a special thing to wear like a flower or a pin. You can even give them a special place to sit during the reception. "What's important here is that they're honored in a more relaxed fashion, and there are no additional costs incurred that normally comes with being a bridesmaid or groomsman," Charles says.


Make Someone The "Captain Of The Dance Floor"


Everyone has that one friend who's the first person to get on the dance floor and the last one to leave. "They not only have great rhythm, but they aren't afraid to bring the fun and get creative," Shannon Tarrant, wedding expert and founder of, tells Bustle, "Why not nominate that person to be the captain of the dance floor? Their task will be to keep that dance floor packed and make sure everyone is having a great time."


Set Up A Private Celebration With Just You And Your Closest Friends

Sometimes you just need a little quiet time before all the festivities. One great way to make your friends feel like they're part of your wedding is to have a small get together the day before all the craziness begins. "You can ask them to celebrate before the wedding with you, for a bridal luncheon, and do a champagne toast together before the ceremony," Chancey says. "That way, they know how special they are to you, without all the logistics of having them stand with you."


Make Up Special Roles For Your Friends Based On Their Talents


"If your friend has a talent, tap into their talents and incorporate that into the wedding," Michele Velazquez, owner of Pop The Knot, a pop-up wedding company, tells Bustle. You know your friends best. If they can sing or play an instrument, ask them to perform a song during the ceremony. If your friend is creative, ask them to design your bouquet or do your makeup. If they're good with people, you can ask them to help your partner's family and yours mingle. "If you assign your friends a special role in the wedding, they will feel important," Velazquez says. "You could ask them to help usher guests, decorate, or even act as the Day of Coordinator."

There are so many ways you can incorporate your friends into your wedding without having a bridal party. At the end of the day, it's your wedding. The only rules are the ones you create.