When you're of the "marrying age" there are constant invitations to attend the weddings of those you love dearly. Once you've been a bridesmaid a handful of times it seems the common sentiment becomes. unless your sister or best friend were to get married, you'd be happy to be in the audience for any other weddings and not a part of the bridal party.
But now, you're the one planning your wedding and selecting your bridal party. How do you pick your bridesmaids and do you need to let dear friends know they are not a part of the bridal party if you opt for a smaller party?
Take your time picking your bridal party. We've all been a part of enough weddings and celebrations where a bride asked a childhood friend to be her maid of honor and regretted her decision when things got underway. Simply because you've stood up there with some great friends or drunkenly promised a future spot to a sorority sister of the past, doesn't mean you need to fulfill that promise.
If your future husband has five groomsmen but you have your heart set on three or four best friends, don't feel like you have to add more bridesmaids. Uneven wedding parties when laid out well are just as aesthetically pleasing as those with balanced numbers.
Consider having a conversation with some besties that aren't invited to the bridal party. If you feel it would better your relationship by addressing the issue head-on, then do so. You know your friends best and made a decision for your wedding that fits you. Don't pick a bridal party based on personal pressures before having a conversation with your friends. For all you know, your friends may be happy to attend the bachelorette and be a part of the party-goers in the audience at your wedding.
Siblings don't have to be a part of your wedding party. If you're not close there isn't a blanket rule demanding their presence. You'll still get gorgeous family photos with them and find other ways to make them feel included.
Now, most importantly here - don't ask a friend to be a bridesmaid and later rescind the invitation. This is one of the rudest things you can do as the host and considerate friend you always try to be.