Some of Those Relation to Bride-Maids and Their Duties.
Instead of being so many graceful ornaments at the marriage ceremony, as nowadays, the bride-maids in olden times had various duties assigned to them. Thus, one of the principal tasks was dressing the bride on her wedding morning, when any omission in her toilet was laid to their charge. At wedding, too. where it was arranged that the bride should be followed by a numerous train of her lady friends, it was the first bride-maid’s duty to play the part of drill mistress, “sizing” them so that “no pair in the procession were followed by a taller couple.” She was also expected to see that each bride-maid was not only provided with a sprig of rosemary, or a floral rose pinned to the breastfolds of her dress. but had a symbolical chaplet in her hand. In many parts of Germany it is still customary for the bride-maids to bring the myrtle wreath, which they have subscribed together to purchase on the nuptial eve, to the house of the bride, and to remove it from her head at the close of the wedding-day. After this has been done the bride is blindfolded, and the myrtle wreath being put into her hand, she tries to place it on the head of one of her bride-maids as they dance around her; for, in accordance with an old belief, whoever she crowns is sure to be married within a year from that date. As may be imagined, this ceremony is the source of no small excitement, each bride-maid being naturally anxious to follow the example of the bride. Referring once more to the bridal wreath and chaplet, it is still current notion in many parts of our own country that the bride, in removing these, must take special care that her bride-maids throw away every pin. Not only is it affirmed that misfortune will overtake the bride who retains even one pin used in her marriage toilet, but woe also to the bride-maids if they keep any of them, as their prospects of marriage will be thereby materially lessened.
La Cygne [KS] Journal 12 May 1888: p. 4
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: To-day, of course, the brides-maid has a massive list of expensive and onerous duties: Pedi-dates, spa week-ends, a “Hen Do” in Las Vegas or Bournemouth, and unspecified and on-demand “pampering.” The list above only scratches the surface of a long list of vintage “do’s and don’t’s” for the bridal attendant. Some others:
Slices of cake passed thru the bride’s wedding ring and eaten by the bridesmaids, will bring a husband within a year.
A piece of wedding cake should be put under the pillow of a maiden and if she dreams of a man, she will marry him within a year.
In some countries a plain gold ring is baked in the wedding cake and the maiden who gets the slice with the ring will have the privilege of proposing to a man of her choice.
Bridesmaids date from Anglo-Saxon times. It was the bridesmaid’s duty to escort the bride to church, and it was believed that the girl on whom this honor fell would be married within a year.
A bridesmaid who stumbles on the way to the altar will die an old maid.
Signs, Omens and Superstitions, Milton Goldsmith, 1918: p. 12-13
Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride, 1896
It is said when a bride retires to rest on her wedding night, that her bridesmaid should lay her stockings across, so as to assure her good luck.
If one of the bridesmaids stumbles, it carries evil luck to the bride.
When the bride goes from her seat to the altar, the bridesmaids must close up quickly, lest the seat grow cold, which is a sign the bride and groom’s love will quickly grow cold also.
If one of the bridegroom’s stockings, thrown by one of the bridesmaids, falls on the bridegroom’s head, it is a sign she will be married herself soon.
If a bridesmaid goes to bed backward, with her hand over her heart, and the first man she sees in the morning is an old man, she will marry before the year is out.
Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Cora Linn Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens, 1903
Mrs Daffodil wonders that, with so much responsibility to bear, anyone would accept such a weighty honour.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.