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Not returning the BM ‘favour’

I was bridesmaid for one of my friends last month. She had 7 - 5 of us from school, her sister, and another friend she’s made in the last few years. 

I am only having my two daughters as bridesmaids. I was never going to go down the matching dresses route, I was never going to have 5 bridesmaids and I definitely couldn’t choose between the 5 as i love them all equally and have known them all since school. i Was BM for my mum and dad‘s weddings (separately) and for me it felt right to have my daughters be our bridesmaids. All of my friends think it’s lovely and cute etc, apart from the one who got married last month.

Am I awful for not ‘returning the favour’? Surely because I’m only having my children it’s just a completely different thing?! 


  • I don't think you're awful, and your friend shouldn't have asked you just so that you could return the favour - but if I were her, I'd probably be upset too. You can't help your emotions, and she was probably looking forward to being a part of your day, and feels like maybe she doesn't mean as much to you as you do to her (even though this is almost certainly not true!)

    If you aren't going to change your mind, perhaps you need to have an honest conversation with her. Explain to her what she means to you, but that you want to do things on a smaller scale, and can't find the budget to have as many bridesmaids as she did.

    If you're thinking of changing your mind and extending your bridesmaids, maybe I can give you an idea of costs as I've got 7 bridesmaids myself. I wouldn't change it for the World as I want them all by my side, but the costs have definitely escalated(!)

    Dresses £1200
    Alterations £250
    Hair & Makeup £560
    Bridesmaid Flowers £250 - £300
    Bridesmaid & Maid of Honour Gifts £300

    Plus because I've had 7, my fiance matched this with 2 best men & 5 groomsmen, so this also increased the cost of the men's suits, and their gifts. Obviously each of these things could be scaled down to some extent, but you get the idea. You sound like you've already made your mind up, but I just wanted to give you an idea, so that you can make the best decision for you :) 

  • OmRumOmRum Posts: 951 New bride

    Perhaps you could ask her to contribute in another way? Could she do a reading at the ceremony or something?

    I've had this though, where two friends were asked to be bridesmaids and I wasn't (I had always thought we were a foursome of friends), and she asked me to do a reading instead. It still smarts a bit to be honest (although not as much as if I hadn't been asked to do anything)! But I kept my mouth shut and I'll never mention it, because her day, her way, and she shouldn't be made to feel guilty about that, even years later!

  • MrsTwizbeMrsTwizbe Posts: 3,355 New bride

    You've done nothing wrong here. You are not obliged to ask people to be bridesmaids in return or to have 7 bridesmaids. I think you have done the right thing by not having any friends and sticking to just your two daughters. Ive always thought that no one can complain if family are chosen rather than friends.

    Your friend needs to get her big girl pants on deal with this. It is not your problem and she will get over it.

    If you really want to you could ask all 5 of your school friends (including her) to plan your hen do. I assume your daughters are too young for that job?

  • Thanks for all your opinions! 

    I really don’t want her to feel upset, as if I had been having adult bridesmaids she obviously would have been one. I think tbh she is upset that she might never be a bridesmaid for any of us because she was the one most likely to have a big traditional wedding. We all threw ourselves into being her bridesmaids and tried to make the run up to the wedding as special as poss for her and went all out (she was a very excitable bride, she wanted multiple hen dos!) and I kind of feel like because we respected the kind of wedding and attention and organisation  She wanted that she should be able to understand that my dream wedding is slightly different? I know she’s feeling a massive come down from the wedding being over so that probably isn’t helping, I feel awkward mentioning mine at all really.  The reading idea is nice - I actually did a reading at hers so that could be a good way to give her a role, although I’m not sure how much she would enjoy it. Hmm I’ll have a think. Good idea re organising the hen - my daughters are 6 and 10 months so not quite up to the job (altho the 6 year old thinks we should ’just go swimming’ Haha) 

  • Ashley72Ashley72 Posts: 1,136 New bride

    If you can’t pick between them and can’t afford (or really want) to have all of them then just stick to your two daughters. I think that’s cute!

    I can understand your friends being upset, but its probably just disappointment at not being able to be involved in tour day etc. I personally would maybe get them all involved in other ways - and maybe even have them get ready with you or do readings etc. There are lots of ways they can support you and you honour your friendships without putting them in matching dresses. 

    Ive got six bridesmaids - my fiance’s 20 year old daughter and my five best friends. There was no way I could ever have chosen between them and it didn’t seem right to only have my oldest friend. We were all BMs for my friend last year too. I know that not everyone will want or be able to have all of us and that’s fine, you have to do whatever suits you, but I won’t lie I’m sure I would be a bit upset deep down, I’d never say anything though unless maybe if I was the only one left out! The costs do add up when you have a big bridal party (and then as someone else said, equal amounts of groomsmen also) so money can definitely be a deciding factor in your choice. If that is the only reason you can’t have them all and would like them, speak to them and see if they’d consider buying their own dress (you could just stipulate a colour or long/short) and get them a small bouquet or corsage. You don’t have to go the whole hog with matching shoes, bags, dresses, hair and makeup, gifts etc etc. 


  • You do you, but I agree it might be nice to find another role for her... reading, witness, hen do organizer...

    I guess it depends *why* she wants to be a bridesmaid. Is it the pretty dress and flowers, or is it supporting a friend through her wedding? I know my niece (admittedly 11 years old!) just wants the dress and flowers and to walk down the aisle, but my adult bridesmaids (sister and best friend from school) are just thrilled to be part of it and would probably prefer not to do the dresses and aisle thing!

  • I share the feeling - I have been Bridesmaid for 4 different friends and have only asked 1 of them to be mine... it was such a difficult decision, but I have other friends I wanted as my maids, and didn't want (and couldn't afford) to end up with a line of 10 of them.... I know everyone keeps telling us its OUR day and OUR decisions, but sometimes it really doesn't feel like it....! x

  • They are all (the five school friends) getting ready with me In the morning and we are going for dinner the night before so I’m hoping they still feel really involved. I don’t want to feel like I’m asking sfuff of them but not ‘honouring’ them with the bridesmaid title itself if that makes any sense? But I’d love them to be as Involved as they want to be. 

    Thanks for all the different persoectives, it’s really helpful :) 

  • Someone I know had her sisters as bridesmaids, but then had about four nominated "friends of honour", who got ready with her on the morning of, helped planned the hen do etc. This way they felt like they had a role and felt special (just as I'm sure this friend of yours is special to you) but didn't have the formality of being a bridesmaid and the bride didn't have the extra cost or organising stuff. I've heard people call them "bridesmates" too which I think is cute! Could this be an option and you pick her and maybe one or two other close girl mates? X

    Edit - just seen above that your friends are getting ready with you and having dinner the night before so that's kind of it. You could give them the title as a little token, but explain there's no pressure or formality so they don't feel obliged. I'd be thrilled if that were me! 

  • Sian91Sian91 Posts: 829 New bride

    I had one bridesmaid because I didn't want to chose- she's not married, doesn't have a boyfriend and has three sisters. I'm not expecting to be hers. 

    I think having your daughters is nice and makes sense/should be understandable to her- it may just take time. 

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