Behind every bride there is a bridesmaid. Nowadays most brides want to be accompanied by as many bridesmaids possible and the bride chooses how many to ask. You know what they say: “the more, the merrier and they must all dress alike”.
Historically, no person of status went out unattended, and the size of the retinue was closely calculated to be appropriate to the family’s social status. Then, as now, a large group of bridesmaids provided an opportunity for showing off the family’s social status and wealth.
The maid of honor status is not a commercial invention of our time. The tradition dates from ancient Roman times, where the bridesmaids formed a real human shield to hide the bride from kidnappers.
Another version of the legend says that ten witnesses were required at a wedding in order to outsmart evil spirits (believed to attend marriage ceremonies) by dressing in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits would not know who was getting married.
In 19th century England, there was a belief that ill-wishers could administer curses and taint the wedding. In Victorian wedding photographs, for example, the bride and groom are frequently dressed in the same fashion as other members of the bridal party.
Traditionally, bridesmaids are chosen from unwed young women of marriageable age, and they also organize the bridal shower or bachelorette party (US) or hen night (Australia and UK). It’s a great responsibility to manage things in the right direction, be sure to do your homework well!
Since modern bridesmaids, unlike their historical counterparts, can no longer rely on having their clothes and travel expenses paid for by the bride’s family, and are sometimes even assessed fees to pay for parties that the bride wants to have before the wedding, it has become customary for the bride to present the bridesmaids with gifts as a sign of gratitude for the support and financial commitment that comes with their roles. It has become equally customary for wary women who are invited to serve as bridesmaids to first ask after the amount of time, energy, and money that the bride expects from them before accepting this position. If you know the bride is very demanding, be sure to check with her before making any important decision. But be cautious, do not overdo the questions, take into account the bride already has her head wrapped in the wedding preparation. Act with discretion!
On the day of the wedding, the principal duty is to provide practical and emotional support. The bridesmaid might assist the bride with dressing and, if needed, help the bride manage her veil, a bouquet of flowers, a prayer book, or the train of her wedding dress during the day. If there is a reception after the wedding, the maid of honor may be asked to offer a toast to the newlyweds.