Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
The informant is a 29-year-old Caucasian female who will be called JH. She is of Irish and English descent and knows of this folklore from her family, more specifically her mother. This folklore piece is told in her words:
My Mom told us that in old British tradition the reason you would have bridesmaids is because women had to travel great distances for arranged marriages, and you would dress like other girls to fool highwaymen and wayward outlaws from snatching the right bride. Which means your bridal party had to be willing to take your place.
In Ancient Roman times weddings seemed to be heavily surrounded by the kidnapping of the bride. The best man also plays a part in protecting the bride from being kidnapped by disapproving family members or vengeful neighbors. This would explain the need for bridesmaids to blend in with the bride, so she can’t be easily spotted. This was also to protect her from evil spirits. Bridesmaids have become a way to share the bride’s wedding with women who are closest to the bride. The events prior to the wedding are a way for the bride to bond with those women and share special moments that she will remember after.
For more on the origin of the Bridal party/ best men/ bridesmaids, check out: