I think that choosing your bridal party is one of the most difficult decisions you make when planning your wedding. When you think about it, selecting someone to be your maid of honor or best man is saying to that person: “ you are one of the most meaningful people in my life, and it would be an honor for me to have you stand up for me when I get married.”
Where most people run into problems, and why some bridal parties are so huge, is most people have a hard time deciding who those meaningful people in life are. People also run into a problem when they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so they include everyone in the wedding party.
One way to avoid many problems is to apply specific criteria to how you choose the bridal party. For example, you could say that you’ll consider longevity of friendship only or that you are going to stick with family members. That way, if you have to leave someone out of your bridal party, you can explain it by letting them know, “I’ve chosen only family members to be in the bridal party.”
Another good idea, is if you feel really bad about leaving someone out of your bridal party, you can offer them an alternative way to be included in the wedding itself (maybe help pass out cake or be in charge of the sign in table). And if you want them to be more included than just helping, tell them that it would be an honor for you to have them read a poem or do a religious reading during the ceremony.
Keep in mind when selecting the bridal party, you should have one bridesmaid and groomsmen for every 40 or so guests you invite. The bigger the wedding: the bigger the bridal party. The smaller the wedding: the smaller the bridal party.