If you've ever been a bridesmaid, it can feel like your duties are endless. Planning a bridal shower and a bachelorette party, spending money on a dress — it can be overwhelming. But it's also a huge honor and typically ends up being a lot of fun. Be thankful, even if the bride is a bridezilla.
Centuries ago, however, the role of the bridesmaid was quite serious. Bridesmaids could mean the difference between life and death. Seriously! Early Roman law required a wedding have 10 witnesses (which later morphed into bridesmaids and groomsmen). These witnesses had to dress exactly like the bride and groom in order to trick any evil spirits in the room from coming after the happy couple.
In early 19th century England, if a couple knew someone opposed their marriage, they would also have their wedding party dress the same as them, so the opposing party couldn't doom the marriage. Bridesmaids also protected their brides from thieves or disgruntled ex-boyfriends as they traveled to collect their dowry [source: Wedding Packets]. And, having a matron of honor at a wedding is thought to be great luck, as it kicks off your marriage in the presence of an already happily married woman.
Now that we know bridesmaids have always been a form of protection and good luck to brides, how about the bridesmaids? Do they get anything lucky out of it? Well ... it's complicated.
An old superstition holds that if a woman is a bridesmaid three times, she's destined to be an "old maid" and never get married herself. This might have something to do with the evil spirits mentioned above. A bridesmaid can only protect her bride from evil spirits so many times before those spirits might come after her. A more modern theory is that a bridesmaid always looks her best at a wedding. If she hasn't attracted a husband after three public outings in her best clothes and makeup, she probably never will. A more modern theory, sure, but also more sexist.
If you've been three times a bridesmaid, don't worry. According to folklore, you can reverse the curse. The first way is to catch the bridal bouquet. Or if you're not a good catcher, simply be a bridesmaid four more times, making it seven times in total. We suggest practicing your catching, as it's a lot cheaper than buying four more bridesmaids dresses!
If you're dead set on not becoming a bridesmaid for the third time, or you're trying to reach your curse-breaking goal of seven, one woman in the United States has a novel idea. Calling herself a "professional bridesmaid," Jen Glantz rents herself out to brides and grooms to perform bridesmaid duties like planning the bridal shower, revving up the guests at the reception, writing speeches and holding the bride's dress while she goes to the bathroom to freshen up [source: Taniabretonwpix].
At the time she was interviewed about her new career, Glantz had previously been a bridesmaid three times. We wonder if she's trying to break a curse?
- Mendham, Trevor. "Bridesmaid Superstitions." Wedding Lore. 2013. (Jan. 8, 2015) http://www.weddinglore.com/ceremony/superstitions.html
- Taniabretonwpix. "World’s first professional bridesmaid-for-hire explains the concept." Pix11. Aug. 26, 2014. (July 1, 2015) http://pix11.com/2014/08/26/worlds-first-professional-bridesmaid-for-hire-explains-the-concept/
- Webster, Richard. "The Encyclopedia of Superstitions." Sept. 1, 2012. (Jan. 8, 2015) https://books.google.com/books?id=m1-xCL47_7QC&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq=bridesmaid+three+times+superstition&source=bl&ots=MeQV9hB0lY&sig=70aJaEtrHZVIZPNB5Rlr5z8j9A0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MgKvVM2TLc3ksAS154DAAg&ved=0CFMQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=bridesmaid%20three%20times%20superstition&f=false
- WeddingPackets.com. "Bridesmaids: A History." 2015. (Jan. 8, 2015) http://weddingpackets.com/blog/2013/12/bridesmaids-a-history/