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The Ultimate Bridesmaid Duties Guide [Part 1] - Tradition And Roles Of Bridesmaids On Your Wedding Day

Being a bridesmaid is more than just wearing stunning bridesmaid dresses and having the best wedding hair accessories you can flaunt on your Instagram; it’s about playing an important role before, during, and after the wedding. It’s about planning the perfect party and being on the bride’s side on her big day.

In this post, you’ll learn everything about bridesmaids -- how the tradition started, the traditional wedding dresses, and its role.

You can also check Part 2 of The Ultimate Bridesmaid Duties Guide to learn more about what the bridesmaid should wear and the best wedding hair accessories you should not miss!

two bridesmaid wearing bridesmaid dress and wedding hair accessories

The History of Bridesmaids

So, your closest friend or family member called you because they want you to be a part of their wedding day… or better, you’re the bride and you’re making a list of your bridesmaids but before you go on, do you know how it all started?

If not, you might be surprised how different the tradition was decades ago.

Bridesmaids Are Bride’s Maids... Literally

According to the Bible, the first bridesmaids originated from Jacob’s wedding story when his wives, Leah and Rachel, brought female servants. So literally, these women were real domestic workers who accompanied and served the brides on their wedding day.

Today, the role of the bridesmaid is almost the same but instead of random people, they are the bride’s and groom’s closest family members or friends.

Bridesmaids Are Used To “Confuse”

In Ancient Rome, the bride and her bridesmaid look exactly the same. This means having the same wedding dress, hair, etc., and this is not because of aesthetics sake rather, it’s to “confuse the evil spirits” or ex-lovers who have harmful intentions toward the bride.

Also, since women are compelled to present furniture, a dowry of money, and other valuables to their groom in some cultures, they are also prey for criminals. Therefore, the bridesmaid’s role is to act as a decoy to protect the bride.

Now, the role of the bridesmaid is less risky and often involved assisting your girlfriend to the bathroom.

Bridesmaids Held Bridal Showers To Collect Money

Many years ago, a bridal shower was held to help the unfortunate bride collect money, which will be used as a dowry for the groom. 

But today, it’s not as dramatic and more or less, it’s one of the best nights a single woman can have before they enter married life. Now, it’s not about collecting dowry money instead, it’s about having fun, savoring food and drinks, giving gifts to the bride, and making a memory that will last a lifetime. Often, it’s an all-female party, too!

And speaking of bridal showers, recently it has become more personal to the couple. Meaning, it not only consists of maid of honor and bridesmaids; men of honor and bridesmen can be present in the fun, too!

bridesmaid with bride wearing luxury wedding accessories

Bridesmaids Wear The Same Wedding Dress And Veils

In 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, her entourage wore the same white dress to highlight the Queen’s white satin gown. 

Meanwhile, in the 21st century, bridesmaids are free to choose their wedding dress considering the wedding’s motif. Now, they can choose lilac, pink, or sky blue dresses but of course, the classic white dress never goes out of style.

Bridesmaids Carry Fragrant Herbs Or Garlic

It was believed that evil spirits prey on brides so instead of the beautiful bouquet we see today, bridesmaids carry fragrant herbs or garlic to protect the newlywed. Also, since taking a bath was not usual in the past, it was believed that fragrant herbs are carried to conceal their own body odor.

Also, instead of throwing a bouquet, the bride tosses her own wedding shoes to the participants. Crazy, right?

Fortunately now, brides carry and throw a fancy bouquet of flowers to the crowd.

Traditional Attire For Bridesmaid

Choosing a bridesmaid dress was easy… if your wedding has happened a few centuries ago. As mentioned above, they dress like and look like the bride, therefore, decision-making wasn’t difficult.

However, after a few years, it’s become more lenient, allowing the bridesmaid to choose a style that would complement her body type and personality. Also, instead of the classic white, they can choose other colors according to the wedding’s motif.

Other Than The White Dress

As mentioned, the bridesmaid can choose their own dress and even the luxury hair accessories they’ll wear at the event, the same as with the flower girls.

While it’s exciting, it can also be tricky, especially if there were little to no details provided other than the color. Of course, the bride should also discuss the silhouette and hemline needed in their dress.

Mix And Match

Most brides require a single color for their bridesmaids’ dresses; however, there are those who are bold enough to accept mixing and matching of colors. This makes their event and the wedding photos more cohesive.

While it’s pretty and almost a dream come true, it’s a bit more challenging than giving a specific color. Often, it’s best to hire a stylist to help them curate the color, style, and fabric. This will also reduce the stress that the bride and the bridesmaid will feel before the wedding day.

More Breathable Fabric

When it comes to bridesmaid dresses, two of the most popular choices are taffeta and satin. Truly, these are sophisticated and prettier but it’s not always breathable. Also, it’s stiff and not really pleasant to wear at summer weddings.

Fortunately, there are more fabrics to choose from, such as chiffon, shantung, and voile. Apart from looking well in photos, these fabrics are also more breathable, giving the bridesmaids more freedom to enjoy the event.

Cocktail Dress Is Not The Only Choice

Gone are the days when cocktail-length is the only option for bridesmaids dresses; now, your female entourage can opt for floor-length designs. 

With the right type of fabric, longer hemlines look more flattering and are perfect for formal or rustic wedding themes.

Related Topic: Butterfly-Themed Wedding Ideas + Wedding Photos For Inspiration

No matter what the color, fabric, or hemline the dresses are, be sure that it’s all about making the bride and groom's wedding day extra special!

Feel free to read The Ultimate Bridesmaid Duties Guide [Part 2] to learn more tips on bridesmaids dresses, bridesmaids hair accessories, and more.


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