Bridal is a term used to describe anything associated with a wedding, from the bride’s dress to her bouquet. It can also refer to the groom’s attire, such as his suit or tuxedo. The word bridal may also be used to describe a special occasion, such as a bachelorette party or bridal shower.
The roots of the word come from Old English brydealo, which means “wedding ale” or “wedding feast.” Traditionally, this is the main event that precedes the actual wedding ceremony. For many people, it is a time to celebrate with close friends and family.
Throughout the centuries, various traditions and superstitions have sprung up around weddings. Often these are precipitated by a story, myth, part of culture, or a famous marriage and, over time, they can calcify into ceremony.
These ceremonies typically revolve around the assumption that there is a need for the bride to acquire a special white dress and other gifts that mark her transition into the world of marriage. For example, the Ndebele tribe of southern Africa still dresses brides in a traditional beaded train called a Nyoga that hangs from the shoulders down to the ground and trails behind them like a snake.
It is also assumed that the bride will require help in preparing for her role as a wife. Hence the origin of her maid or matron of honor. This woman is expected to offer emotional support and hands-on assistance with things such as bustling the gown or affixing the veil. In addition, the maid of honor often takes on other duties at the wedding itself, such as showing guests to their seats or handing out favors.
While the maid of honor is traditionally a female relative, mixed-gender bridal parties are becoming more common. The members of the bride’s bridal party are called her bridesmaids or bridesmen and are typically close friends. They are expected to help plan the bridal shower and, on the big day, they are there to support her emotionally and provide hands-on assistance with things such as bustling her gown or affixing her veil.
As with any celebration, there is usually a lot of food and drink at the bridal shower. Guests often bring gifts for the bride. Some of these may be small tokens, while others can be expensive. As a result, the bride can easily become overwhelmed by all of the attention. It is a good idea for the bridal party to limit their spending on bridal shower gifts to items that are specifically needed or will be used by the bride, such as a new dress or shoes.