The main role of the bridesmaid is to attend to the bride before, during and after the wedding ceremony.
In the early days, bridesmaids were chosen among unwed young women who were of marrying age.
Bridesmaids in History During the early Roman days, bridesmaids were known as the protectors of the bride.
They formed what can be called a "bridal infantry" with the sole purpose of accompanying the bride as she ventured into the village of her bridegroom.
The bridesmaids during this period were given the task of protecting the bride from old suitors or thugs who were out to either steal the bride's dowry or hurt her.
In the West, the bridesmaid tradition seems to have come from the later Roman practice in which ten witnesses were required per wedding.
This was a practice that was needed to outsmart evil spirits and to prevent these evil spirits from going to the wedding ceremony.
All the ushers and the bridesmaids were dressed in identical clothes as the groom and the bride.
This was used to confuse evil spirits from finding out who was truly getting married.
This practice remained well into the 19th century and was used to avert curses from ill-wishers.
Contemporary Role in Weddings Today, the bridesmaid is usually a relative or a friend of the bride or the groom.
The number of bridesmaids in the wedding entourage depends on how many the bride chooses.
The head bridesmaid or principal bridesmaid is referred to as the maid of honor if she is unwed or the matron of honor if she's married.
Bridesmaids today have the special task of helping the bride plan out her wedding.
Usually a bridesmaid or the maid of honor also throws the bride a bachelorette party or bridal shower.
At the end of the ceremony or even before the wedding, the bride usually presents her maid of honor and her bridesmaids with gifts as a way of thanking them for the emotional and financial support they've given her.
Wedding Attire In most cases, the bride chooses the dress or gown for the bridesmaid.
It is also possible for the bridesmaids to purchase their own dress based on the color scheme and theme of the wedding to help the bride save money.
Although it's possible for bridesmaids to wear the exact same gown design and style, some brides prefer to have the input of their bridesmaids when it comes to dress design and dress shape.