About Wedding Traditions & Meanings

Friday, October 2, 2015

Historical roles of best man and bridesmaids

Most wedding traditions we practice today stem from unexpected origins. For instance, the wedding party of today is nothing like a couple hundred centuries ago when the original role of the "best man" wasn't to throw a bachelor party, hold on to the ring, give a speech or make the wedding toast. His duty was actually to serve as armed backup for the groom just in case he was forced to kidnap his intended bride from disapproving parents. Even the word "best" didn't necessarily mean best friend. It meant he was best with a sword in case it was needed.

Best man was chosen because he was "best" with a sword.

History of best man

Origins of the best man tradition are thought to be Germanic Goth stemming from a time when men were expected to take a bride from within the community. With an inadequate supply of local women, eligible bachelors were forced to seek out and capture a bride from a neighboring community. This practice is linked to the reason the bride stands to the left of the groom during the wedding ceremony to this day. You see, the groom had to keep his right hand free for defense.
Bride kidnapping

 Original duties of the best man

  • The best man stood guard beside the groom until the wedding vows were exchanged.
  • After the wedding, he stood outside the newlyweds' bed chamber door as a guard of sorts and stood watch in case anyone decided to attack.
  • He was also in place in the event that the bride decided she wanted to run.

History of bridesmaids

As for bridesmaids, historically they wore dresses similar to that of the bride, so that as the group approached the church it would be difficult for any evil spirits or former beaus to spot the bride. Evil spirits were also the reason the bride wore a veil to hide from those spirits waiting to steal away her happiness. But having the bridesmaids dress similarly to the bride made it more difficult for possible kidnappers or those planning to throw rocks. 

Bridesmaids wore dresses similar to the bride.

The same held true for the men. They wore matching suits to save the groom from curses, rocks or kidnapping, too.

As for the Maid of Honor, she was responsible for making all the wedding decorations and putting them up herself.


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