Wedding Traditions Explained: The Origins of the Bridal Party

We all know the wedding tradition that has single ladies fighting to catch the bouquet, but what about the one that has groomsmen fighting to capture the bride?

Yes, the civilized, tuxedo-clad gentlemen you see lined up so tamely at the alter were once scandalous rogues–charged with helping the groom kidnap his future bride from her opposing family, and then providing a raucous distraction to hasten the getaway. (Sounds more like a bachelor party, to us.)

History’s matron of honor, meanwhile, charmingly referred to as the “senior maid,” was–much like today–responsible for aiding the bride before and during the wedding, with the help from several other bridesmaids.

In many cultures throughout history, members of the wedding party dressed like the happy couple, in the hopes of confusing evil spirits and spurned suitors. Thousands of modern-day bridesmaids have this tradition to thank for contemporary wardrobe crimes involving dreadful pink taffeta and puffy sleeves.

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