Typically modern weddings have become an occasion not only shared between a Bride and Groom, but one that calls for extensive numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen, several functions (if you're going for even a halfway traditional wedding) and of course, plenty of memory making, with your group of loved ones.
Sri Lankan weddings much like any other type of wedding, now requires the support of your nearest and dearest, to make your special day even that much more enjoyable.
Much like the size and quality of your wedding, the food, the outfits and even the decor, now the same honour and awe is expected of a couple's chosen wedding retinue.
In 2013 Nisansala and Nalin tied the knot in a world-record-breaking ceremony, with the Guinness World Record for most number of bridesmaids at a wedding ceremony with a whopping 126 maids. In total the couple had 25 groomsmen, 20 page boys and 23 flower girls.
But history has proven that not all traditions, come from the best of intentions. Here's the ugly truth behind the Bridesmaid and Groomsmen traditions.
The Biblical origin story follows on from when Jacob married Leah and Rachel, and each brought her own “maid”—but they were personal servants rather than your typical bouquet-holding bridesmaids.
In some traditions, bridesmaids led the Groom to the church and the Groomsmen led the Bride.
In the 16th century being a Bridesmaid was considered a good way to procure a husband. If you had served as Bridesmaid three times without getting married, it was believed that evil spirits had cursed you. To break the spell, you’d have to be a Bridesmaid 04 more times, for a total of 07 rounds on the wedding circuit.
The Bride’s friends would “shower” (similar to a Bachelorette Party/ Hens' Night) her with gifts before her wedding in cases if her father changed his mind about the marriage, withdrawing the dowry, the gifts they gave would become her dowry.
When “marriage by capture” was practiced, the Groomsmen would assist the Groom in taking the Bride from her family.
A tradition in medieval England and France called for the Groomsmen to check the Bride's stocking (the day after the wedding) for signs that the marriage had been consummated.
In some early traditions, the Groomsmen were called Bride’s Knights, because they helped protect her—and her dowry, and her virginity—or because they assisted in her kidnapping.
Maid Of Honour
The Chief Bridesmaid (or MoH as we like to refer to her) would be in charge of the dow-purse (much the way today’s MoH would hold the Bride’s bouquet). She’d also help the Bride take off her gloves and then hold them during the ceremony.
In ancient Roman weddings, the Matron of Honor was a moral role model, known for fidelity and obedience. (She had to have been married no more than once, and to have a living husband.) She joined the right hands of the Bride and Groom for the first time at the ceremony.
Throwing of the Bouquet
There was a lot of shoe-throwing during Anglo-Saxon times. The Groom “symbolically" struck the Bride with a shoe to “establish his authority” (And we wonder why we still have to deal with gender equality concerns) Brides would throw shoes at their Bridesmaids (instead of a bouquet) to see who would marry next. Whoever caught it would throw her shoe at the men.
Wedding Retinue Outfits
Ancient Roman law required 10 witnesses to be present at a wedding, which is considered a precursor to the bridal party tradition. Bridesmaids and groomsmen had to dress just like the bride and groom to confuse vengeful spirit presences (or real-life jealous suitors) who might try to harm the newlyweds
The tradition of the “best man” is thought to have originated with the Germanic Goths of the 16th century. He was the “best man” for, specifically, the job of stealing the bride from her neighboring community or disapproving family, and he was probably the best swordsman, too.
Given the likelihood that the bride's family would attempt to retrieve her from her groom or get revenge—or that another suitor would try to take her, or she might try to escape—the best man stood right next to her at the wedding, at the ready with his weapon. Later, he was moved to the groom's right side (possibly due to jealousy on the part of the groom). After the ceremony he stood guard outside the newlyweds' bedroom or home.
The bride was often accompanied by a child—think today’s flower girls and ring bearers—meant to symbolize a fruitful union. Flower petals tossed in the bride’s pathway were representative of the way to a beautiful future.
The “stag” or bachelor party originated in Sparta in the fifth century, as his buddies—de facto groomsmen—toasted him and feasted on the night before his wedding.
Open carriages were considered an easy target for evil spirits, so wedding guests would use bells and firecrackers to scare them away. This translates to today’s celebratory car honking after ceremonies.