This is without doubt one of the most popular questions brides have when first envisioning their wedding day. Fear of hurting friends’ feelings if they’re not invited to be a bridesmaid can be a definite source of angst. But in this case, the bride really needs to put what’s best for her first. According to planner-extraordinaire Terry Saxe of SpecialT Events, the bride should give special thought to the number of people she wants around while she’s getting ready, when excitement can tend to evolve into nerves and it might pay to keep things a little more serene. “There are many ways to honor your friends who are not in the bridal party,” says Saxe. She recommends inviting “bridesmates” to come in and share in the pre-ceremony excitement once the bride is dressed and ready and had a chance for a little quiet time with her very closest companions. Best case scenario, Saxe recommends seven or eight bridesmaids max.