I'm approaching this from another angle--that of having been a bridesmaid--seventeen times!:eek:
Only two of those weddings were of women that were close personal friends. Every other one was the marriage of a female relative, or an acquaintance, and my feeling about having been in such events was that of having to fill out a chorus line. A couple of these weddings were extremely elaborate affairs, having in excess of ten bridesmaids, plus maid of honor, flower girls, a couple of junior bridesmaids.
Since back in the day it was considered rude to decline an invitation to be in a bridal party, I accepted all of the invitations. That's how I got stuck with seventeen hideous dresses, all of which cost the better part of a month's take-home pay.
I could regale you with tales of disasters from these weddings, most of which are entertaining, but some of which are a downright sad reflection on what is supposed to be a cherished ritual celebrating a man and a woman starting their lives together in the Lord. There were a few fights which resulted in the maid of honor and bride not speaking to each other after the wedding day. The most comical story was of the wedding party with nine bridesmaids, maid of honor, and bride all packed onto this prop bridge in front of a mural at the restaurant for pictures. We girls were all wearing these Scarlett O'Hara type dresses complete with hoop skirts and parasols. It was all supposed to look very pastoral in the pictures. I recall wondering just how many people they could fit onto the prop bridge (which was made of some sort of reinforced fiberglass) when the whole set collapsed from the weight of eleven people on it!
My sister had also been asked to fill in in the corps de ballet of a few of these weddings. She is a veteran of eleven weddings.
We're helping my mom clear out fifty years worth of accumulation in the attic in preparation for her move to a senior apartment. She's alone now, and neither my sister nor I live nearby, so she feels that it's time to be somewhere easier for her to manage. While going through the attic the other day, we found all twenty-eight of these dresses. And all twenty-eight of them were decidedly hideous examples of "fashions" of yesteryear. I wouldn't wear any of them to a skunk hassle!
My sister chuckled and said, "Hey, we can always start a 'Rent a Bridesmaid' business!"
We took a few pictures of the ugliest of the selections, including the ill-fated Scarlett O'Hara dress, and then donated them to a local Little Theater troupe to be used for costuming.
The Church in the US only requires two baptized individuals as witnesses to a marriage ceremony, one of whom must be Catholic. They can be of either gender, and there is no requirement that one is male and one is female. The big processionals of scads of bridesmaids are Hollywood-inspired. In fact, most of the trappings of the wedding industry are not based on much of anything that is Christian, let alone Catholic.
My advice? Keep it simple. Simple is always cleaner and more elegant. If you have a favorite aunt, or even an older mentor, ask her. Let people like this select an age-appropriate dress in keeping with your style (in other words, real adult women don't wear dresses with butt bows!) And don't worry about the lack of a large number of attendants. Pictures of weddings like that usually do look just like a chorus line, in my opinion.
You sound like a sensible young woman who is trying to plan a wedding that will reflect the sanctity of marriage. Don't let it turn into a theatrical production, the pictures of which will just look downright silly a decade from now!