A bit of interesting background
The history of the bridesmaid varies across cultures, religions and time periods. In early Roman times, bridesmaids formed a kind of bridal troop, who marched alongside to accompany the bride to the groom’s village. This ‘protective shield’ of similarly outfitted bridesmaids was supposed to intervene if any wayward thugs or vengeful suitors tried to hurt the bride or steal her dowry.
However, the Western bridesmaid tradition seems to have originated from later Roman law, which required ten witnesses at a wedding in order to outsmart evil spirits believed to attend marriage ceremonies. The bridesmaids and ushers would dress in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits wouldn’t know which couple was actually getting married. Even as late as 19th century England, the belief that ill-wishers could administer curses and taint the marriage still existed. In Victorian wedding photographs, for example, it can take quite a bit of inspection to pick out the bride and groom!
Interestingly the white bridesmaids dresses are beginning to make a come back!
Whether you are the bride or one of the bridesmaids in an upcoming marriage ceremony, you have probably given a certain amount of thought to the role that bridal attendants play. Even though a bridesmaid no longer serves exactly the same purpose that she did in the precursors to today’s western weddings, she is nevertheless more than just a pretty face. Given the tasks overworked brides have asked for assistance with, it is almost certain that a number of weddings throughout the years will not have turned out as flawlessly as they have if not for the bridesmaid.
In Ireland & in the United States, typically only the Maid/Matron of Honor and the Best Man are the official witnesses for the wedding license.
The “Maid of Honor” is the chief bridesmaid. She is the one the bride designates to see to the most important tasks, (see link below). If she is married, she is called the “Matron of Honor.” Apparently, such a marker that distinguishes between being married as compared to not stems from the tradition of choosing bridesmaids among unwed young women of marriageable age. Thus “Junior Bridesmaids” in recent times are girls whose participation the bride wishes for in the wedding party despite the fact they are too young to get married. The expression “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” has its origins in this practice. If a woman never got around to marrying, it was believed that the evil spirits out to harm the bride had successfully cursed her, the bridesmaid, instead
See HERE “The ultimate bridesmaids survival guide”
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