The Real Reason Bridesmaids Wear Matching Dresses


by Holly Rains |
Updated on

Weddings and traditions go hand in hand. Like one big word association game, if we said ‘wedding’, your answer would probably consist of, ‘CAKE!’, ‘DRESS!’, ‘BRIDESMAIDS!’, all customs traditionally associated with the marriage thing.

But while some traditions, such as throwing sci-fi themed wedding receptions and receiving a diamond engagement ring are relatively new customs, the idea of decking out your bridesmaids in matching dresses goes back a long, long way. We’re talking the deepest, darkest annals of Ancient Roman times.

Why bridesmaids traditionally wear same dress, celebrity bridesmaids, georgia may jagger, lena dunham, lizzie jagger, jerry hall wedding
Georgia May Jagger wore a pale blue chiffon dress when she was the bridesmaid at her mother Jerry Hall's wedding to Rupert Murdoch in May 2016 ©Getty

The concept of matchy matchy bridesmaids originated not from vanity - although the thought of an Ancient Roman bridezilla decreeing that all bridesmaids forthwith must wear the same toga (so not to detract from her own gorgey outfit) is pretty special – but instead came from a far darker place.

Back then, brides not only had to contend with 'evil spirits' floating around the ceremony, picking at the finger buffet and cursing the bride-to-be, but also angry would-be grooms, men who said bride had sacked off in place of someone more favourable.

In a canny way to stay safe from both demons and embittered men (side note: if you’re reading this Richard Curtis, there’s a Rom Com ripe for development here), the bridesmaids’ would dress and behave just like the bride, essentially acting as decoys – confusing any potential threat and keeping the bride safe throughout proceedings.

Cara Delevingne wore a white Chanel dress when she was the bridesmaid at her sister Poppy's wedding to James Cook in May 2014.

cara delevingne bridesmaid

Pippa Middleton wore a custom Alexander McQueen dress designed by Sarah Burton when her sister the Duchess of Cambridge married the Prince of Wales in April 2011.

pippa middleton bridesmaid

Key takeout’s from this journey through history:

  1. Apparently there was a glut of single men available in Ancient Roman times.
  1. Apparently turning down said glut of men was de rigueur.
  1. No one cares about your safety if you were an 8th century bridesmaid.

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