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#36 Things'll Go Your Way

In case you missed my last 600 social media posts this month, my friends and I recently launched CANOODLE, a Rom Com Rewatch Podcast. This week’s movie was BRIDESMAIDS which is totally not a Rom Com, a fact that we pick apart ad nauseum in the episode. (You can listen HERE.)

I didn't love the move. In fact, by far my favorite thing about BRIDESMAIDS is seeing all the bridesmaids-of-weddings-past pics that are popping up in our Instagram feed.

I have 5 siblings and was in a sorority in college so I’ve been to a lot of weddings and have been a bridesmaid at least 4 times that I can remember. I’m almost 50, keeping track of how many times I was a bridesmaid is the least of my concerns.

In preparation for the episode this week, I hunkered down with the albums, boxes, and Ziploc bags of photos that have been moldering in my closet and was transported back in time. My life stretched out before me, my parents were alive, and my eyebrows were abundant.

The most obvious thing is the dresses. Lord, the dresses. The splendiferousness of these getups is astounding. I don’t think we kidded ourselves back then that we could “totally wear it again” or worse “just dye it black – it’s a classic!” We were there for the glamour and made no bones about it.

The first wedding I was in was my sister, Patti’s ultra-formal “black & white” wedding. Our dresses were strapless ball gowns with enormous skirts – I felt like a princess. The headpiece was so big I was receiving messages from space.

Mork calling Orson. Come in, Orson.

Lynda’s wedding was next. Full-length emerald green iridescent taffeta with matching headpiece. Kim and I sang with Dad during the wedding and I almost fainted because it was an unseasonably hot day and I was wearing a girdle (a less expensive and even more humiliating version of Spanx.)

By comparison, Debi’s wedding was downright casual. Purple velvet column dress, no headpiece, and (I think) no gloves. Scandal! I was the Maid of Honor for that wedding, but I was even worse at it than Kristen Wiig’s character in the movie (minus the debilitating food poisoning) so my other sisters did all the heavy lifting.

I was in another wedding in the early aughts where we got to choose our own dress as long as it was purple. This was the most stressful one. Choosing formalwear is not a core strength and I ended up with a dress so (accidentally) low-cut that the mother of the bride made me carry my bouquet vonTrapp-style, high enough to cover my shameful cleavage. Thankfully, I have no photo of this.

All this nostalgia made me curious. Why do we traditionally wear matching dresses? From the most-trusted internet resource I could find without clicking more than once (aka Wikipedia):

“Some sources state that, in ancient times, originally the bride and all the bridesmaids wore exactly the same dress and veiled their faces heavily, for the purpose of confusing jealous suitors and evil spirits.

In China during the feudal era, brides were susceptible to kidnapping at weddings by rival clans and hooligans. Shouldering the responsibility to protect the bride, bridesmaids were dressed up like the bride to lower the risk that she might be identified and taken.”

Jealous suitors! Evil spirits! Rival clans! Hooligans!

Yes, that sounds about right.


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