When planning a wedding you know all the traditions you should follow (or break!), but have you ever given a thought to where the traditions started?
We have been looking into the history of some of the most well-known wedding traditions, starting with the role of your wedding party!
As with many things, bridesmaids have multiple origins, which lead to the Bridesmaid as we know them today. In fact, bridesmaids have been present at weddings as far back as biblical times. During Jacob’s marriage to Leah and Rachel, each woman brought a female maid to stand beside her, literally being the brides’ maids.
During Ancient Rome a bride would be accompanied by her bridesmaids when travelling to her groo’s village. They would serve as a shield of sorts, protecting the bride from vengeful former suitors, or thieves determined to steal her dowry.
In later Roman times, the bride would have up to ten bridesmaids who would accompany her during the wedding day in almost identical dress. This would outsmart evil spirits who were often present at wedding ceremonies. This superstitious belief carried through to the Victorian age. Due to the risk of harm, it wasn’t considered an honour for bridesmaids during these times.
In more modern times, bridesmaids dress identical, but in a colour to set them apart from the bride in white. Although, it is becoming common for bridesmaids not to match, with brides allowing them to choose their own colour from the wedding scheme, or their own style of dress. Furthermore, bridesmen are also common in modern weddings.
Due to the risk of harm, it wasn’t considered an honour for bridemaids during these times.
Maid or Matron of Honour
The first instance of a maid of honour was in the 1780s, during which time the best maid was selected. The term maid of honour wasn’t actually used until the late 1800s.
The Groomsmen (or Ushers)
Your groomsmen or ushers certainly have a darker history when it comes to weddings. Although it is hard to pinpoint exactly when it started, groomsmen were often called the bride’s knights and they held a very important role in making sure a wedding happened. It was their job to ensure the bride made it safely to the wedding ceremony, frequently kidnapping the bride from her home and her disapproving parents.
Once the bride was safely escorted to the ceremony the groomsmen would then guard the bride to ensure nothing interrupted the ceremony. As such, they would stand on the right of the bride, allowing easy access to their sword if needed, and close enough to stop the bride from running away.
The best man would be by the groom’s side throughout the courting process during the 16th century, even going so far as to fight any over potential suitors alongside the groom. The first documented usage of the term best man was in 1782, before that he was often referred to as the bridesman – which holds a different meaning in modern weddings.
…even going so far as to fight any over potential suitors alongside the groom.
What other traditions make you curious about their origins?