The wedding industry is an increasingly growing market. All over the world, weddings have special customs and traditions that are followed. In traditional western weddings, the bride wears white, has a diamond engagement ring, and throws her bouquet to all the women at her wedding. Bridesmaids also wear matching dresses that are often pretty cringe-worthy. So why do bridesmaids typically wear the same dress? Have bridesmaids always had to endure wearing those bright colored, unflattering matching dresses? We’ll try to get behind the mystery of the matching bridesmaid dress!

Source: NY Daily News
Source: NY Daily News

What’s a bridesmaid?

Members of the bride’s party in a wedding, a bridesmaid must attend to the bride on the day of her wedding. Basically, bridesmaids are meant to be the bride’s personal posse, catering to the bride’s every need. Traditionally, bridesmaids were chosen from unwed young women who were the right age to be married. This allowed them to be shown as available on the wedding market, allowing all the available young men at the wedding to meet these eligible bachelorettes. The principle bridesmaid, known as the maid-of-honour, is also the witness to the wedding under civil law.

Why do Bridesmaids Typically Wear the Same Dress?: The modern matching dress

A predominant theory about the matching bridesmaid dress is that it is simply meant to make the bride stand out, and look better. And, there may actually me some truth to this theory today. Brides traditionally wear white, or light pink and beige, making them look demure and radiant. On the other hand, it’s traditional for the bridesmaids to wear bright colours, and they often end up wearing dresses that are extremely unflattering. Put a group of women dressed in horribly matching dresses, following the bride’s every move, and the bride suddenly shines out amongst the group and the most beautiful and unique women of the group. Although this might explain why the tradition is carried out today, there is another reason behind the matching bridesmaid dress that dates back to ancient rome.

Ancient Rome’s Bridesmaid Dresses

The idea of a bridal party seems to come from Ancient Roman times. At that time, bridesmaids would actually wear dresses that not only matched one another, but also, matched the bride’s dress. Basically, bridesmaids used to be decoy brides. The idea was that during big rituals, there was the danger that evil spirits would ill-wish the soon-to-be-married couple. So, both the bride and groom would dress their friends in matching wedding clothes so that the demons wouldn’t know who exactly was getting married. Once married, the couple was in the clear.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that we no longer really believe in wedding demons, the tradition of having the bridesmaids wear matching dresses stuck. Unfortunately, the uniform often kind of sucks.

+ Bonus Knowledge Nugget

In Ancient Rome, law also dictated that there be ten witnesses at a wedding. That meant that both the bride and groom had to have five witnesses, each. Today, the maid-of-honour is also asked to provide emotional support to the bride, and is often meant to make a toast at the wedding reception, along with the main Groomsman.

Show Me the Proof

  1. Judith Martin. Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated. Kamen, Gloria. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 38
  2. Judith Martin. Miss Manners on weddings. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 136–137. 
  3. Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home’. Funk & Wagnalls Company. pp. 335–337.