Why Bridesmaids & Groomsmen?

So last week I wrote blog post about why brides wear white wedding dresses and it’s led to a lot of other questions about the wedding planning process. In light of that, I decided that I should investigate more of these “traditions” to see where they came from. Now – why do we have bridesmaids and groomsmen?

Turns out that unlike the white wedding dress, the bridemaids and groomsmen is truly a “tradition” that stands the test of time.  There are several different version of the history out there, so I’ll just try to compile it the best way I can….

happy groomsmen at a modern day wedding! photo from The Wedding Lens!

Best Man & Groomsmen

So the long & the short of it is that the best man and the groomsmen have always been the guys who would say to the groom “dude, I got your back.”

Somewhere in the early A.D. era, there were when a dude couldn’t find a wife, he and his buddies would go to the next village over and steal a future wife. Yes, steal. The buddies not only helped with the stealing but they’d “get the groom’s back” during the wedding ceremony — you know, just in case the bride’s family wanted her back or something.

Other stories say that the groomsmen helped escort the bride to the wedding (even when she was a willing participant). 

bridesmaids at a modern day wedding, photo from The Wedding Lens

Maid of Honor & Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids were involved in the wedding ceremony for two reasons: to be a witness to the wedding and to confuse the evil spirits. Roman law required witnesses be present at the wedding — so that’s why the bridesmaids were there! Even today, many bridesmaids (or perhaps just the maid of honor) can serve as a witness to a wedding ceremony.

The evil spirit thing has to do with…. attire!

Attire

In the case of both the brides and the grooms, the groups would dress very similar to the bride & groom. Why? To ward off evil spirits of course! The idea was that the evil spirits would get confused by the similarity in dress. Which seems (to me) that maaybe those evil spirits weren’t so bright.

Anyway, “we’ve” kept the tradition of the bridesmaids dressing the same as each other, but not so much as the bride. Perhaps this is because the brides have recently adopted the tradition of wearing white instead of any old color. Obviously the groomsmen still dress very similarly to the groom.

So that’s the story of the bridesmaids & groomsmen. IS there anything you want to know the history of? Email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

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