Weddings are full of pagan and ancient traditions going back to various times and places. The white wedding dress, the bride being given away by her father, the bouquet toss, the exchange of rings, the first dance, as well as numerous other wedding traditions predominant in other parts of the world – the origins of most of them are century-old. Bearing that in mind, there is one ritual whose background might downright surprise you: the tradition of bridesmaids following the bride wearing the same dress.
In recent years the popularity of this tradition has been waning with some people considering it somewhat of a cliche. The ritual is slowly evolving with bridesmaids going for various shades more and more often, due to the difficulty in finding a dress that suits everyone’s body type, skin tone, and personal style.
However, matching dresses were actually a way to cause confusion.
The concept of bridesmaids emerged in the time of Ancient Rome. Their role was not only to help the bride with the various challenges of her big day; they were actually decoys. In those days, bridesmaids’ clothes wouldn’t just match one another, they would also match the bride’s.
The Romans believed that any joyous occasion had the potential to attract evil spirits to the merriment. So to keep the engaged couple safe from demons and, their peers used to dress up in matching wedding attire.
The idea was to have the group of similarly dressed brides confuse anyone with bad intentions long enough for the vows to be exchanged. Once the vows were over and done with, the evil spirits did not have the power to affect the happiness of the couple.
The threat of demonic wedding crashers petered out by Victorian times when brides first began to dress more elaborately than their maids. This superstitious tradition stuck, though, and the idea of matching bridesmaids lives on.
Source:Bel Fiore Weddings
Not surprisingly, this is not the only bridal custom dating back to Roman times. Bachelor parties in those days, for instance, used to begin with a feast to commend the groom-to-be and ended with the groomsmen kidnapping the future bride.
In fact, this was the purpose of groomsmen! They were originally called bride-knights and their job was to provide backup for their friend as he stole his bride from her angry relatives. In some cultures, especially in Eastern Europe, the kidnapping is still performed ceremonially.