[Yes the Bridesmates spelling is purposeful and not a typo, read on and all shall become clear]
Are they an important part of wedding planning? In some cultures, they can be an integral part of the planning process, in other cultures they’re non-existent. What does it mean to you? Are you thinking of having bridesmaids at your wedding? How many would you have? Where do you even start with styling them in a way that makes each individual one happy and have the style work with your wedding theme? Let’s delve deeper into this..
In modern tradition, bridesmaids are a group of girlfriends/ female family members who support the bride in aspects of her wedding planning. However, historically they served a more colourful purpose in their role as bridesmaids than they do today. Prepare yourselves for this wild story folks!
In ancient China, kidnapping a bride to be was a rather common occurrence and since it was a standard practice for the bride to travel many miles to be wed, she would organise to travel with an entourage of women who would all dress the same as the bride and cover their faces (Yes, the veil!!) to disguise the real bride.
Then there are also the ancient Romans whose law required for 10 witnesses at a wedding, making bridal parties bigger just for them to be legal. The bridesmaids at the time did dress the same as the bride too, but their reason for that was to ward off ghosts and demonic spirits! (shall we move on swiftly from that?)
Bridesmaid styling tradition evolved further when the’ trend-setter’, Queen Victoria, married Prince Albert in 1840 (yes, I labelled her a trend-setter because she also started the ‘white’ wedding dress trend, which has since become the traditional hue for brides in a vast number of cultures. Before Queen Vic, the colour was either silver or any special colour that they could get their hands on). That Royal wedding had 12 bridesmaids who all wore identical white dresses which complemented the Queen’s own gown.
Modern day bridesmaids
Thankfully, the role of a bridesmaid and their styling has grown to fit better with the times, even though, further improvements can still be made; like getting rid of the ‘maid’ part and replacing it with ‘mate’ (this is where I explain the spelling - note that the word is not my invention and I have no idea who started this fabulous term - let me know if you know in the comments!)
There are so many reasons as to why this needs to be addressed (and perhaps I’ll go through them all in another blog post) but for now, let’s just say, I wouldn’t call my friend a ‘maid’ nor would I want to discriminate against other genders who you might want to be included in your bridal party.
So, shall we talk about party styling now? In my opinion, the best bridal party look is one where each individual is dressed in their own style, a look that complements their own personality yet is still coherent within the wedding theme thread for all party members.
Something you should know about me by now is that I strongly advocate for individuality and originality when it comes to style, I encourage the ones that truly say “this is me” through their clothing choices, so putting your bridesmates in the same design may end up excluding at least one of your party members from being themselves on the day.
One way to keep a coherent style is through colour. Using one or two predominant colours as part of your theme allows you to play around with various silhouettes that your bridesmates can choose for themselves. If not the full silhouette change, then a more subtle difference like in a variety of differing necklines would speak volumes.
How about mixing it up with long/short dresses or even with trousers?
If focusing on a colour isn’t part of your theme, then you can still go for similar styles for your bridesmates but with varying colours. Colour studies can be conducted to create a group that work together (such as pastels, brights, or grey tones etc.)
Where do you even start?
Speaking to your bridal party and bridesmates is a good starting place, gather their ideas and preferences. Ultimately, the choice is yours (it is your wedding day after all) but it is always good to be accommodating to your friends/family, where possible, and - you never know - they may brainstorm with you some pretty fabulous ideas or help guide you through some of the tougher options.
Working with a designer can also help you along if you are not totally confident on doing the work yourself. It is, after all, our job to design for you. Being a couturier truly allows me the freedom to design for your vision and professionally apply those colour studies for the whole party look; whereas some may find themselves restricted with what the shops have in stock.
The wonders of the internet today offer you more options and flexibility than there ever was! Shopping or finding inspiration online is a great tool to aid your bridesmate style planning. There are many fantastic designs out there that offer flexibility in creating various differing necklines or styles in your choice of colours.
Go for it!
I would like to end this post by asking you to be daring and truly go for the look and style that makes you happy, rather than what you believe to be the standard or what is expected by others. Your wedding day is a celebration of two individuals coming together and it is both your expressions that need to be present proudly on that day.