What The Bridesmaids Wear
The costumes of the bridesmaids, slippers, stockings, dresses, bouquets, gloves and hats, are selected by the bride, without considering or even consulting them as to their taste or preferences. The bridesmaids are always dressed exactly alike as to texture of materials and model of making, but sometimes their dresses differ in color. For instance, two of them may wear pale blue satin slips covered with blue chiffon and cream lace fichus, and cream-colored "picture" hats trimmed with orchids. The next two wear orchid dresses, cream fichus, and cream hats trimmed with pale blue hydrangeas. The maid of honor likewise wears the same model, but her dress is pink chiffon over pink satin and her cream hat is trimmed with both orchids and hydrangeas. The bouquets would all be alike of orchids and hydrangeas. Their gloves all alike of cream-colored suede, and their slippers, blue, orchid, and pink, with stockings to match. Usually the bridesmaids are all alike in color as well as outline, and the maid of honor exactly the same but in reverse colors. Supposing the bridesmaids to wear pink dresses with blue sashes and pink hats trimmed in blue, and their bouquets are of larkspur—the maid of honor wears the same dress in blue, with pink sash, blue hat trimmed with pink, and carries pink roses.
At Lucy Gilding's wedding, her bridesmaids were dressed in deep shades of burnt orange and yellow, wood-colored slippers and stockings, skirts that shaded from brown through orange to yellow; yellow leghorn hats trimmed with jonquils, and jonquil bouquets. The maid of honor wore yellow running into cream, and her hat, the of the same shape of leghorn, was trimmed with cream feathers, and she carried a huge cream feather fan.
As in the case of the wedding dress, it is foolish to enter into descriptions of clothes more than to indicate that they are of light and fragile materials, more suitable to evening than to daytime. Flower girls and pages are dressed in quaint old-fashioned dresses and suits of satin with odd old-fashioned bonnets—or whatever the bride fancies as being especially "picturesque."
If a bridesmaid is in mourning, she wears colors on that one day, as bridesmaids' dresses are looked upon as uniforms, not individual costumes. Nor does she put a black band on her arm. A young girl in deepest mourning should not be a bridesmaid—unless at the very private wedding of a bride or groom also in mourning. In this case she would most likely be the only attendant and wear all white.
As a warning against the growing habit of artifice, it may not be out of place to quote one commentary made by a man of great distinction who, having seen nothing of the society of very young people for many years, "had to go" to the wedding of a niece. It was one of the biggest weddings of the spring season in New York. The flowers were wonderful, the bridesmaids were many and beautiful, the bride lovely. Afterwards the family talked long about the wedding, but the distinguished uncle said nothing. Finally, he was asked point blank: "Don't you think the wedding was too lovely? Weren't the bridesmaids beautiful?"
"No," said the uncle, "I did not think it was lovely at all. Every one of the bridesmaids was so powdered and painted that there was not a sweet or fresh face among them—I can see a procession just like them any evening on the musical comedy stage! One expects make-up in a theater, but in the house of God it is shocking!"
It is unnecessary to add—if youth, the most beautiful thing in the world, would only appreciate how beautiful it is, and how opposite is the false bloom that comes in boxes and bottles! Shiny noses, colorless lips, sallow skins hide as best they may, and with some excuse, behind powder or lip-stick; but to rouge a rose—!
The Cost Of Being A Bridesmaid
With the exception of parasols, or muffs or fans, which are occasionally carried in place of bouquets and presented by the bride, every article worn by the bridesmaids, flower girls or pages, although chosen by the bride, must be paid for by the wearers.
It is perhaps an irrefutable condemnation of the modern wedding display that many a young girl has had to refuse the joy of being in the wedding party because a complete bridesmaid outfit costs a sum that parents of moderate means are quite unable to meet for popular daughters. And it is seldom that the bride is herself in a position to give six or eight complete costumes, much as she may want all of her most particular friends with her on her day of days. Very often a bride tries especially to choose clothes that will not be expensive, but New York prices are New York prices, and the chic which is to make the wedding a perfect picture is the thing of all others that has to be paid for.
Even though one particular girl may be able to dress herself very smartly in homemade clothes of her own design and making, those same clothes duplicated eight times seldom turn out well. Why this is so, is a mystery. When a girl looks smart in inferior clothes, the merit is in her, not in the clothes—and in a group of six or eight, five or seven will show a lack of "finish," and the tender-hearted bride who, for the sake of their purses sends her bridesmaids to an average "little woman" to have their clothes made, and to a little hat-place around the corner, is apt to have a rather dowdy little flock fluttering down the aisle in front of her.
How Many Bridesmaids?
This question is answered by: How many friends has she whom she has "always promised" to have with her on that day? Has she a large circle of intimates or only one or two? Her sister is always maid of honor; if she has no sister, she chooses her most intimate friend.
A bride may have a veritable procession: eight or ten bridesmaids, a maid of honor, flower girls and pages. That is, if she follows the English custom, where every younger relative even including the little boys as pages, seems always to be brought into a perfect May-pole procession of ragged ages and sizes.
Or she may have none at all. She almost always has at least one maid, or matron, of honor, as the picture of her father standing holding her bouquet and stooping over to adjust the fall of her dress, would be difficult to witness with gravity.
At an average New York wedding, there are four or six bridesmaids—half of the "maids" may be "matrons," if most of the bride's "group" of friends have married before her. It is, however, not suitable to have young married women as bridesmaids, and then have an unmarried girl as maid of honor.