I recently came across this article from WeddingWay.com which lists Charleston, SC as the "Bridesmaid Capital of the United States" averaging over 5 bridesmaids in a typical wedding party.
I must say that I have seen more of a trend to smaller wedding parties and personally, I prefer it. My opinion is to just let your friends and family enjoy the day without having the formal commitment of a role in the wedding. Also, think about the budget, not only do your bridemaids have to spend more on dresses, hair and make-up, you have the extra expense of bouquets and gifts which can add up quickly.
My recommendation is to keep the bridal party small and just focus on a wonderful experience for all of your guests.
Until next time...