In addition, bridesmaids' hairstyles should have at least some element of uniformity, ideally
(i.e. the same type of up-style, the same accessories, etc.) although in many cases, this is not easily achieved. There
is an allowable variance for the maid or matron-of-honor. The maid-of-honor's hairstyle can be a little more elaborate
than the other bridesmaids' styles, but should never outshine the bride under any circumstances.
Tips for Choosing the Hairstyles:
A couple of summers ago, a childhood friend married in a lovely afternoon garden wedding. The
hairstyles worn by the bride and her party are a good example of what I'm trying to describe. The bride wore her hair in a braided
circlet at the crown of her head with a fall of spiral curls coming from inside the circlet and wispy curls at her temples.
The braid offered a sturdy anchor point for her tiara of pearl-beaded flowers and veil. Her maid-of-honor wore her hair in
a double French braid whose ends were coiled into a knot at the nape of her neck. This was adorned with a small spray of flowers and a
tail of ribbons in colors to coordinate with the bridesmaids' dresses. The remaining three bridesmaids all wore their hair in French
braids that had been woven with the matching ribbons and were accented with small sprigs of baby's breath along the braid.
As you see, the bride's style was by far the most elaborate. The maid-of-honor and bridesmaids all
wore styles that were similar, with the maid-of-honor's style being slightly more detailed. Another point was that the bridesmaids'
hair was all of different length, but all had hair long enough to create a French braid.
Now that we've determined the hierarchy of the hairstyle designs for the bridal party, we should
address the issue of what type of style is appropriate to different wedding settings.
Nighttime/Evening weddings or Fall/Winter weddings are generally the more formal
affairs. Styles for an 'after-dark' wedding or for a wedding held in the Fall/Winter months call for sleek and sophisticated or more
elaborate hair designs. For these occasions, an up-style is almost always called for, though an afternoon/daytime wedding in the
Fall/Winter months would allow for wearing the hair down if the wedding is outdoors.
Daytime/Afternoon weddings or Spring/Summer weddings allow for a more casual
atmosphere to the celebration of marriage. Many Spring/Summer weddings are held outdoors with a garden party atmosphere.
Softer, more romantic styles suit these weddings well. Long curly falls, or partial up-styles look lovely without seeming over-dressed.
The Mother of the Bride:
The Mother of the Bride and the Groom's Mother are usually honored in some special way as a part of
the ceremony. Many brides choose to include two single long-stemmed roses as part of the flowers they carry down the aisle,
and will stop briefly to gift both mother and mother-in-law-to-be with a rose. Aside from this gesture, neither the bride's nor
the groom's mothers have any active part in the ceremony. It is important on this special occasion for the two women to look
their best, but their choices of hairstyle don't need to have any correlation to the Bridal Party's.
Extra Note: Few people realize that many of the traditions in modern wedding ceremonies have long historical significance.
The list of these is far too long to include them all here, but there are a couple that are appropriate to our discussion.
The act of paying homage to the mother-of-the-bride and future mother-in-law comes from the fact that in ages past, the
only time there was a big celebration was at the wedding of noble (if not in fact royal) individuals. These were the only persons whose
families could afford to throw these kinds of lavish celebration.
The bride (princess) would pay honor to her mother (the queen) for raising her, and then to her
mother-in-law (also usually a queen) for becoming her new 'mother'. Not attempting to bring politics into the subject, but women
were little more than property (even princesses) unless they were at the apex of their possible stations (queen). And the bridal
party of today's brides represents the bride's (princess') ladies-in-waiting. These women would have been part of her household and
would have acted as both servants and companions for the princess, since her social interactions and opportunities to make other
friends would have been limited. The senior-most of these women would have served as her maid-of-honor and historically would have
gone with the princess to her new life along with one or more of the other bridesmaids. Modern brides elect to give the maid-of-honor
role to either a sister or cherished friend since not many women today have handmaidens or ladies-in-waiting.
This information is offered to illustrate the historical significance behind the tradition,
and therefore the reason for the hierarchy represented in each detail of the preparations.