The Role of Bridesmaids
The role of Bridesmaids is an ancient one in western tradition.
As is almost always the case with these things, historians are divided as to the origin of the Bridesmaid but most accept it as something that goes back to the Romans.
Odd as it may sound to us today, from the Roman period right through into Victorian times, the Bridesmaids and Best Man often dressed identically to the Bride and Groom. That goes back to an ancient belief that evil spirits are attracted to weddings in order to place curses on the Bride and Groom but by having lots of people dressed identically, the spirits become confused and cannot carry out their mischievous task.
From the twentieth century onwards, few Brides were willing to share the limelight by having Bridesmaids dressed in identical gowns to their own!
What is their role today and how should you as a Wedding Planner describe them?
It is difficult to generalise but on the whole, the number of Bridesmaids per wedding has probably reduced over recent decades. For the most part, they actually have no practical role on the day itself, other than the Chief Bridesmaid or Maid of Honour (traditionally called the Matron of Honour if she is married) who provides logistical support for the Bride and who may also be a witness to the signing of the register.
Having a number of Bridesmaids can still make a wonderful visual impact on the wedding day. Of course, it is also true that it typically also adds cost, although in some traditions the Bridesmaids may pay for their own dresses.
Ultimately much will depend upon whether the wedding is large or small and just how traditional your Bride and Groom wish to be.