It's always best to decide in advance who's gonna help you in the loo

What’s the ideal number of bridesmaids?

“When people are in a group…responsibility for acting is diffused. They assume that someone else will make the call, or they assume that because no one else is acting, the apparent problem – is really not a problem.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

It's always best to decide in advance who's gonna help you in the loo.

I was chatting to Keith Malone yesterday and he mentioned in passing something that I later realized had sort of perturbed me. His observation was this: That it’s often the brides with the most bridesmaids who find themselves alone and unaided on their big day.


I have four bridesmaids. This is a direct result of Rohan’s decision to have four groomsmen (he clearly subscribes to the strength-in-numbers school of thought on the matter). I’ve assembled a crack team of former brides, event managers, quirkmeisters and all-round helpful individuals. These girls were my friends already, I swear!

But will they still be my friends after (ok, joking). Will their skills and strengths all fall foul of this bystander effect that Malcolm Gladwell – amongst others – has identified?

Diffusion of responsibility is a social phenomenon which tends to occur in groups of people above a certain critical size when responsibility is not explicitly assigned.

- Wikipedia

I used to have a boss who loved explicitly assigning responsibility, or delegating as she called it. Is that what it takes to motivate your bridesmaids away from the bar/buffet/cute cousin from the other side of the family? It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil, so should all brides be bridezillas? Or should brides write a bridesmaid manifesto?

I have no doubt that my bridesmaids will be there for me on the day – whether I turn out to be a brideszilla or not. But it’s interesting theory Malcolm. So come on Karen, Katie, Siobhán and Bróna, let’s prove him wrong on this one.

Photograph thanks to

Bellezza Photography

Used with permission -

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  1. I will have 3 bridesmaids so I hope mine will prove him wrong too!

    I see the point about defining responsibilities, but it’s a wedding not a day at work!! I’m hopeful that they’ve all been to enough weddings to know what to do and if not, they’re close enough to me to ask!

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