Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride

This past week my long time girlfriend, and one of my bestest friends asked a best friend, her cousin, myself, and her sister to be her Bridesmaids!  She Googled this image and had her fiancé Photoshop our faces in, along with these personalized “thoughts”. It was a really special and cool way to ask us!

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I without a doubt said yes, and am very excited to be a part of this special day in my friend’s life. It got me thinking what number is this – sixth or seventh time as a bridesmaid?  This will be my seventh time!!!

But why do brides need or want bridesmaids?  What is the history of the bridesmaid and where did it begin?  I  remember hearing the old saying  “Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride”.  But ah-ha!  Maybe seventh times a charm?  I tried to source this, but it really must be something someone just said because there isn’t quite enough info to support it.

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride”

The saying “Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride” actually stems from this 1925 Listerine advertisement that reads:

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“Edna’s case was a really pathetic one.  Like every woman, her primary ambition was to marry.  Most of the girls of her set were married – or about to be.  Yet no one possessed more grace or charm or loveliness than she.  And as her birthdays crept towards that tragic thirty mark, marriage seemed farther from her life than ever.  She was often a bridesmaid but never a bride”. Oh hey I’m back from crying. Geeze Listerine, way to make a girl feel great!?

The first mention of a bride having maids stems from the Bible, in the story of Jacob. His two wives Leah and Rachel, both literally came with their own maids (Genesis 29:24, 46:18) However, these women were considered be handmaidens rather than social peers.

The Medieval era also makes reference when maidens dressed similarly to the bride, and would accompany the bride as her protectors on her way to the groom’s village.  This would deflect from other men kidnapping the bride or from stealing her dowry.  Roman law once required witnesses to come to weddings in order to confuse evil spirits as to the identity of the bride and groom.  This meant that female wedding attendants came to a marriage ceremony in garments similar to that of the brides, and men wore outfits similar to that of the groom.  This supposedly confused the spirits and threw bad luck away from the bride and groom.

As years have passed, the traditions vary between cultures, religions and today’s modern bride looking to throw the “best wedding ever”.  Brides need help with the details and support through the planning process.  According to one website, the following are the responsibilities of the bridesmaids to participate in, plan and/or pay for:

  1. Emotional Support – for the bride and other maids (and family)
  2. The Bridal Shower – participate in planning and any DIY projects
  3. The Bachelorette Party – participate in planning and paying for the fun night out
  4. Assorted Tasks – running errands with the bride, upon request
  5. The Bridesmaid Outfit – Go bridesmaid shopping with the other girls and choose suitable dresses, shoes, and accessories
  6. The Rehearsal Dinner – usually the responsibility of the groom’s family but ensure you are available and participatory
  7. “Hostessing” – Greeting guests, receiving lines, be social!
  8. Financial Responsabilities – hair, make-up, nails, etc.…
  9. Dancing up a storm – being a fun wedding guest, get guests to join you and have a party!!

Being the “pro” bridesmaid that I am, I agree with this list entirely and I have found myself participating and/or planning all of the above mentioned.  Maybe it is because I am (or like to think I am) a good friend, have attention to detail or am easy-going thus, have been asked seven times to participate as a Bridesmaid in weddings of my close family and friends. Or simply because I’m photogenic. Heck – maybe it’s because I’m like Edna from the Listerine ad, who possesses grace and loveliness, but is destined to “always be the bridesmaid, but never the bride”.  Whatever, it may or may not be, it is an honour and it does make me feel special to be a part of someone’s most special, memorable, loving day of their “new” lives.  I have never felt compelled to say “No” to anyone and have always enjoyed the experience.  There is no point in saying yes, and then complaining about costs, what the bride wants or doesn’t want throughout the process and months later!  Say yes from the heart and remember you were asked because you mean something special to the couple!  It’s their day, not yours, so shut up and smile!

Sincerely and always your bridesmaid,

Daniela Voci

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