This week we’ve been looking at Bridesmaid traditions throughout history, these are our favourite traditions from times gone by!
1. The tradition of matching bridesmaid gowns dates back to Roman times, when people believed evil spirits would attend the wedding in attempt to curse the bride and groom (how rude). Bridesmaids were required to dress exactly like the bride in order to confuse the spirits and bring luck to the marriage.
2. Apparently, there was a lot of shoe-throwing in the old days. In Anglo-Saxon times the groom “symbolically" struck the bride with a shoe to “establish his authority.” Brides would throw shoes at their bridesmaids (instead of a bouquet) to see who would marry next. Whoever caught it would throw her shoe at the men, and the first guy hit would be the one to wed. (Don’t try this one at home!)
3. Another origin story for the bridesmaid tradition is Biblical: When Jacob married Leah and Rachel, each brought her own “maid”— but they were personal servants rather than your typical bouquet-holding bridesmaids.
4. The chief bridesmaid would have been in charge of the dow-purse (much the way today’s maid of honor would hold the bride’s bouquet). She’d also help the bride take off her gloves and then hold them during the ceremony.
5. In some traditions, bridesmaids led the bridegroom to the church and the groomsmen led the bride.
6. In times gone by bridesmaids were under a lot of pressure to walk carefully: If a bridesmaid stumbled on the way to the altar, the superstition was that she would never marry.
7. In ancient Roman weddings, the matron of honor was a moral role model, known for fidelity and obedience. (She had to have been married no more than once, and to have a living husband.) She joined the right hands of the bride and bridegroom for the first time at the ceremony.
8. In early Victorian times, tradition called for all-white weddings, so bridesmaids—who were supposed to be younger than the bride—wore white dresses with short veils, contrasting with the bride’s more ornate veil and train. By the 20th century, this had fallen out of favor, and the bride alone wore white to better stand out.
9. Victorian bridesmaids were tasked with making party favors out of things like ribbons and flowers and pinning them onto the sleeves and shoulders of guests as they left the ceremony. Bridesmaids of the past also used to walk down the aisle with aromatic bunches of garlic, herbs, and grains to drive evil spirits away (and to help make things smell nice in times when hygiene was a bit different).
10. Being a bridesmaid was considered a good way to procure a husband. In the 16th century, if you had served as bridesmaid three times without getting married yourself, it was believed that evil spirits had cursed you. To break the spell, you’d have to be a bridesmaid four more times, for a total of seven rounds on the wedding circuit.
11. The bride was often accompanied by a child—think today’s flower girls and ring bearers—meant to symbolize a fruitful union. Flower petals tossed in the bride’s pathway were representative of the way to a beautiful future.