Right, June. Apologies again for the delay in getting this month started and for the posts still lacking from May (they are coming, I promise!). I really appreciate your patience.
So Spring has sprung and wedding season in my home town is in full swing – and I LOVE weddings! So, in honour of all the love that is flowing around the world this month, June posts will be all about wedding fashion and such.
Starting with A for Attendants…
The number and type of attendants in a wedding party depends a lot on the size and formality of the wedding, the traditions of the couple and often their relationships with close family and friends. Below are a list of different positions that can be utilised to allow additional people to be a part of the big day…
Page Boy/Ring Bearer
The origin of the Ring Bearer/Page Boy position is a little hard to pinpoint, but at Ancient Egyptian weddings a young boy would carry a pillow down the aisle that held gifts of gold, silver and jewels for the couple. In Medieval Europe, the Ring Bearer was older and presented the rings to the bride on the end of a sword, symbolising the solemnity of her commitment (and the cost of infidelity). In Victorian times the Ring Bearer would often be responsible for carrying and arranging the bride’s train during the ceremony.
Modern weddings do not always involve a ring bearer, but if they do the role is often filled by a young boy from the family of the bride or groom, or a close friend of the couple; however cherished pets are also becoming a common choice for ring bearer. Whether the little one carries stand-in rings (the real ones are usually held by the Best Man for safe keeping) on a pillow, a sign or another object that is significant to the couple, the Ring Bearer is a great way to include younger family members in the ceremony.
Fashion: The options for Ring Bearer fashion are as varied as the choice of the Ring Bearer itself. From mini-tuxedos, to sailor suits (very popular with the Victorians), to a shirt, pants and a bow-tie; as long as the little guy’s fashion meshes well with the rest of the wedding party and the overall look and feel of the event, there are no rules!
The Flower Girl position is at least as old as that of Ring Bearer, but seems to hold more symbolic significance in the wedding procession. Usually performed by a young girl who has a special bond with the bride and groom, the Flower Girl has walked up the aisle immediately before the bride since Roman Times, throughout the years carrying wheat and herbs to symbolise fertility and prosperity, garlic braids to ward off evil spirits, Rosemary and a silver gilded Bride’s Cup or a circle of flowers to symbolise everlasting love. The tradition of scattering flower petals down the aisle is a means of welcoming the bride to the altar and her husband, and symbolises love, passion and fertility. The Flower Girl traditionally wears a white dress, symbolising purity and youth, and as she precedes the bride down the aisle she represents the journey of a woman from the purity of youth, to a loving and passionate wife.
Fashion: Much like the Ring Bearer, Flower Girl fashion can be incredibly varied. Traditionally she wore a plain white dress with a sash as a symbol of purity. Nowadays, Flower Girls wear everything from a mini version of the brides gown, to a dress similar to the bridesmaids, to tutus, pants or jumpsuits. As long as she is comfortable and her outfit fits with the rest of the wedding, it really doesn’t matter.
The role of bridesmaid is said to have originated in the Roman Times. According to Roman Law a couple needed 10 witnesses (5 women and 5 men) who all dressed the same as the couple to confuse the evil spirits who attended the ceremony and protect the couple from curses and ill-wishes. Another story states that the bridesmaids dressed in a similar outfit to the bride and accompanied her from her village to that of her groom, protecting her for other would-be suitors who might try to kidnap her or steal her dowry. In Victorian times the bridesmaids were traditionally chosen from unwed women of marriageable age and the number of bridesmaids in a wedding party was seen as a show of prosperity and status; the more bridesmaids, the wealthier the family.
In the 21st century, bridesmaids are generally chosen based on their relationship with the bride and there are no rules on how many attendants a bride should have. Their responsibilities have evolved from simply warding off evil spirits; the modern bridesmaid is often expected to organise the bachelorette/hen’s night, bridal shower and to assist the bride in any way she needs in the lead up to the wedding and throughout the big day.
Fashion: Bridesmaids are now normally dressed in a colour (although thanks to Kate Middleton, white bridesmaid dresses are making a comeback) and while all the bridesmaids are often dressed identically, mix-and-match wedding parties are becoming popular, allowing the bridesmaids to show their own personality whilst still fitting in with the rest of the wedding party. As with the other wedding fashion, as long as the overall look of the bridesmaids has a certain unity and works with the other elements of the wedding, a bride can be as creative with her attendants clothing as she likes.
Maid/Matron of Honour/Chief Bridesmaid
The title of Maid of Honour originally referred to a female attendant of the Queen (and I guess in a way it still does – what bride doesn’t want to be a Queen for a day!), but in modern times it usually refers to the bridesmaid who is closest to the bride – best friend, sister etc. The Maid of Honour often has more to do with the planning of the wedding than the other bridesmaids, spearheads the planning of pre-wedding events like the bachelorette and bridal shower, and generally stands closest to the bride during the ceremony to hold her bouquet and provide support/tissues as needed. The term Matron of Honour is used if the woman is married.
Fashion: While the Maid/Matron of Honour usually dresses to match the rest of the bridesmaids, it is common for her dress to have a subtle difference to indicate her position of honour; it could be a simple as a different neckline, hemline or even a different colour to the rest of the party.
Groomsmen have been part of the wedding ceremony since the days when a man got his bride by kidnapping; a man would steal into the village of his bride-to-be with his best friend or bride-knight and kidnap his bride. The bride-knight would then protect the bride and groom from angry family members and other would-be suitors, ensuring the couple were married and safely away on their honeymoon before anyone could stop them. This idea of protection evolved and in Roman times groomsmen arrived at a wedding ceremony dressed in the same manner as the groom to confuse evil spirits and protect the couple from curses and ill-wishes. In Anglo-Saxon times the groomsmen were charged with making sure the bride (and her dowry) made it to the ceremony and to the grooms house afterwards in one piece.
These days the groomsmen are generally tasked with organising the Bachelor party (aka Stag Night or Buck’s Do), helping the groom prepare for the wedding, decorating the couple’s car (‘Just Married’ and all that) and standing by the Groom’s side at the altar. Some groomsmen may also be asked to help seat guests prior to the ceremony, assist with elderly guests and dance with the bridesmaids at the reception.
Fashion: As in Roman Times, the Groomsmen are often dressed in the same manner as the Groom with a slight difference to indicate their position – this could be different coloured neckwear, a less formal suit or merely a different boutonniere.
Like the Maid/Matron of Honour, the Best Man is the Groomsman who has the closest relationship to the Groom. Historically he would be the one who helped the groom kidnap his bride and stand next to the groom during the ceremony, armed to the teeth and ready to protect the couple from attack. In the 21st century, the Best Man normally organises the Bachelor Party, helps the Groom prepare for the ceremony, performs a speech at the reception and provides support and help as needed.
Fashion: The Best Man is often dressed the same way as the rest of the Groomsmen and is only identifiable by his position to the right of the Groom during the ceremony.
Greeters, Ushers and Readers
These three positions are not ‘traditional’ roles in a wedding ceremony but are great options that allow the couple to include people close to them in their big day.
Greeter: Greeters can be male or female of any age. They generally stand at the entry to the ceremony location and welcome guests to the event. This is a great role for cousins, nieces or nephews that the couple want to include in the day but are not part of the wedding party. They are generally dressed in their own clothes that are appropriate to the occasion. This role can also be performed by Ushers or Groomsmen.
Usher: This role is more common than a Greeter, and is generally performed by men dressed in a similar way to the Groomsmen. The Ushers stand at the front of the ceremony location and either direct or escort guests to their seats as dictated by the couple. This role is often performed by Groomsmen if there are no specific Ushers assigned by the couple.
Reader: Readers are generally close family member or friends whom the couple wish to be involved but are not in the wedding party – grandparents, god parents etc. Readers are called upon during the ceremony to stand and read a piece selected by the couple that has significance to them on their wedding day (or as dictated by the order of service in religious ceremonies). Readers can be male or female and of any age, and generally wear their own clothing.