Bridesmaid Dresses

Custom and Tradition in Bridesmaids Dresses

Once upon a time, the wedding was expected to be performed according to custom and tradition. Over time, this has changed and weddings are now a culmination of personal style and creativity with only select traditions included. So it goes for the custom of bridesmaids, their involvement in your wedding, and their dress.

While many customs have changed throughout the last century, many of the ideas are built upon ancient tradition. For instance, the idea of having several bridesmaids began as the need to have witnesses at a wedding. Originally, the dresses of the bride and bridesmaids were the same. While the tradition has remained, the idea of the bride and bridesmaid dresses looking alike has definitely changed.

The tradition of similar dress originated to protect the bride from evil intent. The bridesmaid dresses were similar to the brides in order to confuse anyone attempting to thwart the bride and grooms happy day. As witness to the wedding and protector of the bride, the bridesmaids held a position of great importance in the wedding ceremony. The idea of having bridesmaids has remained a time honored tradition; although, the practice today is far from the original custom.

Contemporary Expectations of the Bridesmaids

In the 21st century, the wedding highlights the bride and it is expected that the bridesmaid dresses serve to complement rather than compete with the brides beautiful gown.

Today, bridesmaids expectations and their dresses vary from wedding to wedding. Dont assume that your bridesmaids understand what you expect of them and their involvement in your wedding. They may not. When asking your friend or family to be a bridesmaid, it is important to let them know your expectations up front:

Who buys the dress? In some weddings, the bridesmaids dresses are paid for as a gift from the bride. In other weddings the bridesmaids pay as a gift to the bride. Let your bridesmaid know up front when you ask her to stand in on you behalf. If the bridesmaid is to pay for her own dress, let her know the expected cost.
Will bridesmaids wear a particular shoe or just a particular color?
Is a bridesmaid invited to all wedding events, such as the rehearsal dinner or family party? If so, what attire is required at those functions?
Is the bridesmaid expected to be involved in a dressing event? For instance, will there be a beautician, hair dresser, nail technician made available and what is the time commitment?
Does the bridesmaid need to arrange transportation to or from the wedding?
Will the bridesmaid dresses be at the wedding location or are they responsible for them?
If you are renting bridesmaids dresses; who will arrange for pick-up and return?

Keep in mind the importance of your bridesmaids time and financial resources, this will help to ensure no confusion and show the importance you place on you bridesmaids participation in your wedding.

Choosing Bridesmaid Dresses

Choosing your bridesmaids dresses is one of the fun parts of planning your wedding. Have fun with it and choose colors and styles that will give you a beautiful presentation and create a wedding line that mirrors your heart and accentuates your ceremony. Consider some of the following factors:

Is your wedding formal or casual?
Is your wedding dress short or floor length? Tradition says that the bridesmaids dresses should be the same length. Does this tradition matter to you or are you more interested in personal style?
Are you looking for your bridesmaids dresses to accent your wedding colors or subtly blend into the decor?
What are the sizes and shapes of your bridesmaids? Look for a dress that will flatter your event and honor each of them.
Is the use of color and patterns important or will it take attention from the main event?
What is your budget? Can you or you bridesmaids afford custom designs or will finding the same style at a department store work just as well?

While custom and tradition have often gone by the wayside, honoring your bridesmaids should not. Keep in mind that while this is your event and the bridesmaid is there to honor your wedding, they are also in an honored position of witnessing your special day. Showing your bridesmaids respect and honor throughout the process will help to ensure your friendships and create an atmosphere of respect around this, your wedding day.

About the Author

Valeria Vegas has a Masters degree in Writing and regularly writes for a local newspaper.  She also teaches writing workshops in San Francisco and has taught high school English.  As a freelance job, she corrects essays for the SAT and ACT through Pearson scoring as well as write copy for websites.  She is the Associate Editor of a literary magazine, edit manuscripts for Behler publications, and works for authors independently.  One of her stories was named Notable Story of 2004 by Million Writers. She is a new contributor to .

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