This is a pop culture joke that has some grounding in movies and television sitcoms that have a wedding and an uneager bridesmaid at a ceremony. They are usually wearing this big puffy large shoulder pad seafoam-coloured bridesmaid dress. Well, most bridesmaid dresses are not ugly. It depends on how much weddings most people have attended.
But why have bridesmaids, let alone a lot of the traditions with the wedding ceremony?
There are a lot of traditions that originate from protecting the bride on her wedding day. There are traditions that stem from the weird and quirky to perverse.
The origins of the bridesmaid were to serve as protection for the bride on her wedding day. They were first presented as decoys so that no one would drag away the bride before the wedding ceremony. This could have been evil spirits or unsuitable suitors. In Ancient Rome, the bridesmaid would be deterring the evil spirits from attacking the bride before the ceremony and in China, the bridesmaid would be questioning the groom before he could enter to see the bride. And in Victorian England, terrible guests would disrupt and destroy a wedding ceremony which is where the groomsmen and bridesmaids step in and run defence.
The bridesmaid would dress up as the bride so it would deter any person unknowing of the bride’s appearance to attempt something bad or stupid. The veil also played into this decoy by covering the bride’s face. The bridesmaid’s face would most likely not be covered. The most trusted of maids would be the bridesmaids because of the tasks and commitment level besides just showing up. They could have been servants or friends.
The maid of honour originally was in charge of the dowry purse. Much like today’s maids of honour would hold the floral bouquet. They would also help the bride take off her gloves for the ceremony.– Mental Floss
Also, groomsmen had similar responsible like a bridesmaid. They were once called Bride’s Knights. Their responsibilities were guarding the brides virginity, dowry and protect her from kidnapping.
Around the late 1800s early 1900s, the dresses started to not match the bridesmaid but just each other. This was a fashion switch to make sure the bridesmaids are just seen as support for the bride on her wedding day. They started to have the bridesmaid dress alike and not like the bride. Around the 1930s this was evidence that they started to dress differently from the bride but not from each other. This tradition most likely changed during the Great Depression and Wartime. This time period was also called the Golden Age of Glamour.
This was a time when most materials were sparse and matching everyone was a little harder.
From the 1980s, the large Gibson shoulder pads and the large dress seems to be from the time of shows like Dynasty and Dallas were on television. People would see these fashion statements in old photographs and remind them of past trendy attire that were just fads. Most bridesmaid dresses reflect the style if the time.
A short list of popular bridesmaids fads that highlighted modern fashion trends:
- Early 1900s – bridesmaids contrasted the bride so that people would focus on her
- 1920s – long velvet sleeve dresses with double strand pearl necklaces and head wraps
- 1930s – back to the nice good church dress during the Depression era or Little Bo-Peep inspired ruffled long sleeve dresses if you were rich
- 1940s – dresses were made out of furnishing fabrics like curtains because of the Depression era
- 1950s – sweetheart neckline dresses
- 1960s – empire dresses
- 1970s – ruffled peach gowns with wide brimmed hats
- 1980s – big pouffy sleeves and taffeta gowns with no train
- 1990s – simple silhouette dresses
- 2000s – strapless dresses to bridesmaids choosing their preferred style sometimes with a unifying colour
- 2010s – neutral tone dresses
But why seafoam? This could be because it is a very light colour most associated with spring. Seafoam green like mint, coral pink and cornflower are all pastel colours used to convey spring. In the mid-Victorian era, many people were following wedding fashion from Paris and embracing innovation. The popularity of colours differ from place to place. In England, lilacs, greys and violets were popular. While white, roses and greens were popular for the Americans. Green is a colour of harmony and nature. But it really depends on the “it” colours that are popular to the marrying party. An example of bridesmaids wearing an “it” colour would be any Grace Kelly’s bridesmaids wore daffodil yellow which was a popular colour for fashion and home decor in the 1950’s.
Most dresses bought for bridesmaids are chosen by a design for the wedding usually by the bride. Nowadays, the dresses are categorized by either having the dresses all match each other in style or a little mix and match with guidelines. But regardless of what is finally chosen for wear, most bridesmaids wear the dresses because it is the brides special day and the focus is usually on her. And seafoam is now rebranded as mint and it is still often used because it looks good with gold and white.
Other decoys we still use in weddings:
- Tossing Bouquets
- Wedding Toasts
- Engagement Rings