The Ancient Origins of the Maid of Honor

Long-held traditions have a way of making us adopt certain practices without knowing their origins.  Whether it’s the self-control element of Lent or the joy of trick-or-treating, we are not too suspicious of many traditions because they seem to hold some value that we have learned to appreciate.

The same goes with weddings.  Have you ever thought about where the idea of a maid of honor came from?  Or why brides have bridesmaids? That’s what I thought.  Well, let us tell you…

The tradition of the maid of honor (and bridesmaids) likely originated from Roman law, which required ten witnesses present to outsmart evil spirits.  These evil spirits were believed to be present at all marriage ceremonies.  So the bridesmaids would all dress in identical clothing to the bride, so the evil spirits would not know who was getting married.

These ladies also dressed like the bride for another crucial reason – to deceive any men in the groom’s village who might attempt to sweep the bride away before the ceremony. Brides in ancient times traditionally traveled to the groom’s village for the ceremony so she needed protection.  The maid of honor made sure to stay close to the bride, and dressed exactly like her, to confuse any threats until her fate was secured.  

So, now you know the history of the ladies in the wedding party.  Below are some pics of a few of our favorite bridesmaids.