Bridesmaids: the Origins of Tradition

What is one of the greatest emotions for a bride? Having at your side friends, sisters, cousins to whom you give a special role on the most important day of your life. We are talking about the bridesmaids of the bride, practical and emotional support figures from the planning stages of the wedding, right up to the big day. A major role among bridesmaids is also played by the maid of honour.
Table of contents:
  1. The origins of tradition
  2. In Italy an imported tradition
  3. The role of bridesmaids

Ancient Origins of Tradition

The tradition of accompanying the bride towards her dream of love has very ancient origins. It dates back toAncient Egypt, when it was believed that on the wedding day, the evil spirits could prevent the bride from realising her happiness. It was therefore customary for a group of at least ten women to wear dresses similar to the bride's wedding dress, to confuse and throw off evil spirits. This belief was also echoed in Ancient Rome, and from the Renaissance onwards, throughout Europe, the number of young women, often single, helping the bride and accompanying her up to the moment of the ceremony, was all the greater as the economic and social power of the bride's family.

Bridesmaids in Italy: a Modern Tradition

The figure of the bridesmaids was imported from the United States to our country only very recently. Until some 50 years ago, the Italian bride surrounded herself with pageboys and bridesmaids, i.e. children particularly close to the bride and groom who performed certain tasks during the ceremony. The bridesmaids, two to six, wore clothes of the same model differentiated at most by colour. Same number for the page which were to be dressed up and one of them usually had the role of carrying the wedding rings down the aisle. Most important role in Italy they had, and still have, the bride and groom's witnesses. The bride still chooses a friend, a sister or a person close to her who, however, usually has no particular tasks to perform. In contrast to the Anglo-Saxon world, where the role of bridesmaids and maid of honour is taken very seriously.

Bridesmaids and Maid of Honour in the Anglo-Saxon World

In USA and the UK the tradition of bridesmaids is very well established. The wedding procession consists of the "bridesmaids' and the 'maid of honour' as key figures. Bridesmaids have the very specific task of advising the bride in her choice of dress, following her through all the stages of wedding preparation, helping her to dress and relax during the big day. They also have the role of opening the wedding procession, behind the maid of honour, and flanking the bride at the altar. The bridesmaids must also wear a dress of the same colour, carefully chosen by the bride according to her taste.
The bridesmaid performs a fundamental role in the wedding preparations and celebration. During the ceremony co-ordinates pageboys and bridesmaids. She is the first to enter the church, in front of the bridesmaids, holding a small bouquet of the same floral arrangement as the bride's. During the ritual, it deals with settle the dress and veil of the bride. During the course of the banquet, she is ready to intervene to handle any unforeseen events, while maintaining a discreet profile so as not to overshadow the star of the event. Anglo-Saxon tradition suggests that la bridesmaid meets her future husband at her friend's wedding.

The influence of the Anglo-Saxon world is now also being felt in Italy. In fact, more and more Italian brides are choosing to replace bridesmaids and groomsmen with adult bridesmaids and a maid of honour.