Bravo for Bridesmaids: The Story Behind the Matching Dresses

By Theresa Litalien

Bridesmaids aren’t just arm candy for the bride. These lovely ladies are so much more!


To fully appreciate bridesmaids, let’s start with their backstory. The wedding party concept is believed to date back to the Roman Empire. In the days of Caesar, it wasn’t just nice to have the bride surrounded by her gal pals — it was required by law for her protection. There was great concern then that evil spirits would descend upon the wedding and snatch the bride before she could seal the deal with her betrothed.  The solution? Confuse them by surrounding the bride with other ladies. Not taking any chances, the Romans took it a step further by putting the bridesmaids in dresses identical to the bride’s. Thank goodness brides no longer have that law on the books!

Neilson-Hall Photography-33

Neilson-Hall Photography



Fast-forwarding to today, our ladies’ responsibilities are a bit different. First and foremost, the bridesmaids attend to the bride. This is the very reason you will also hear them sometimes referred to as “attendants.” If they do nothing else, they are to make sure the bride looks her best on the big day. They fluff trains, arrange veils, secure errant tresses, ensure teeth are lipstick free, and provide an extra pair of hands for the bouquet. While all of these are important, let’s face it, where many brides really need support is on the inside. Truth be told, the most important role bridesmaids play is keeping nerves calmed.

Beyond the wedding day, bridesmaids’ duties can span quite a range. They usually are in charge of the bachelorette party. In keeping with their Roman roots, in addition to providing the fun, they are equally in charge of keeping the bride out of any unwanted trouble.

Bridesmaids are also involved in bridal shower hosting. Beyond being the party planners, they can help with invitation addressing, wedding day favor assembly, bridal gown shopping, and record keeping the gifts. All the while, they should be sympathetic to any pre-wedding jitters by providing understanding and support.


Betty Clicker Photography


If you are looking to incorporate your heritage into your ceremony, there are some unique bridesmaids traditions in other countries. In the UK and Norway, for instance, bridesmaids are young girls not yet of marrying age all dressed in white. You may remember that in the most recent royal wedding, Princess Kate embraced this and was surrounding by adorable girls. In German days of old, a bride was blindfolded at midnight and the bridesmaids would dance around her. The one she grabbed was predicted to be the next to be married.

While their roles can vary greatly, what should be universal is an upfront agreement between the bride and maids. Brides can avoid misunderstandings and bruised feelings by clearly communicating what she would like them to be involved in and in charge of.


For all they do, our bevy of beauties deserves a token of thanks. When possible, this gift should be something they will be able to use after the wedding while at the same time always reminding them of the special day they shared with the bride. Much like their role, the gift can run the gamut from simple to extravagant. Guidelines run from 20% of their expenditures (dress, shoes, hosting parties) to $75.00 a piece. The important thing really is to stay true to your budget and follow what your heart tells you when it comes to honoring your “ladies in waiting.”

Theresa Litalien is the owner of On Pointe Designs bridal jewelry. Her collections for brides and wedding parties feature Swarovski crystals and pearls and can be customized to match your color palette. For more information, please visit

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Richmond Wedding Vendor Spotlight: The Bull & Bear Club

Happy Monday, everyone!  We're happy to introduce you to one of the sweetest girls we know: Brittany Seay, the Catering Sales Director at The Bull and Bear Club.

Tell us a little bit about your company!

The Bull and Bear Club is located in the heart of Richmond’s downtown area, on the 21st floor (the penthouse) of James Center One. The Club was founded in 1967 by banking professionals. The Club was originally used for private dining and corporate events. With its skyline views of the city and the James River it later evolved into one of Richmond’s premier venues for weddings.

How did you get started in this business?

I have always had a love for hospitality. Originally I was going to school for Culinary Arts and quickly found that I was better suited for the administrative side of the industry. I found that my true passion is more so in planning and managing the overall event. I ...

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Real Richmond Wedding: Lauren & Dale

May 17, 2014

How They Met 

In the spring of 2012, Lauren was working for VCU’s School of Engineering. She was in charge of managing recruitment and fundraising events, including selecting a caterer. Dale, owner of Goodrich Gourmet Catering Company, was looking to get his foot in the door at VCU. He realized the school could be a great market for him. Dale submitted several catering bids until he finally got his chance to bring his food and service and show what he could do. That’s when he met Lauren, and she hired Goodrich Gourmet Catering to cater an event for VCU. This led to many meetings and consultations and many more catering jobs for them to work on together.

How He Asked

Lauren says, “Our first real date was a dinner at Can Can Brasserie in the Fan. We are both food lovers, and the French Cuisine there is out of this world! This is why Dale ...

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2015 Valentine’s Specials

Here it is: The Ultimate Guide to Valentine's Weekend in RVA!  We have everything from wedding venue discounts to out-of-this-world dinner menus.  Make sure you check them all out and take advantage of at least one . . . or two!

And don't forget our Instagram contest!  We're giving away TWO tickets to the 8th Annual Virginia Wine Expo that takes place on Sunday, Feb. 22 from noon until 5:30 here in Richmond.  All you have to do is:

1) Take a photo of yourself enjoying one of the specials below.  It can be a photo of you having dinner at one of great restaurants or marking your calendar for a tour of a venue!

2) Post that photo on Instagram tagging @RVAWeddings (you must be following us to tag us!) and use #RWValentine so we can see your post.

We'll announce the winner on Monday, Feb. 16th!  Happy Valentine's, everyone!

Cary Hill 1741 will offer any Richmond Weddings Bride ...

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Real Richmond Wedding: Hugh & Erin

These high school sweethearts had the wedding of their dreams at Tuckahoe Plantation last September.  We are so excited to share their wedding with you!

September 27, 2014

How They Met

Hugh, a computer engineer, and Erin, a registered nurse, met during their junior year of high school Hugh was the new kid in school, and he and Erin hit it off immediately. Erin says, “Throughout high school, college and starting our careers we have been by one another’s side for nearly ten years!”

This is a perfect capture by their photographer, Kristine Pringle Photography!

Erin, you are stunning!

How He Asked

Erin knew something was up when Hugh had their entire Friday planned to perfection. He took her to her favorite sushi restaurant and had plans for them to meet up with all of their closest friends for a concert on Brown’s Island. While walking to Brown’s Island, Hugh got on one knee and said some ...

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Richmond Wedding Vendor Spotlight: Tiffanys Bridal & The Groom’s Corner

We are very excited to introduce you all to one of the kindest women in the wedding business: Sharon Townsend, the owner and manager of Tiffanys Bridal & The Groom's Corner.  I've known Sharon for a while now and worked with her on numerous projects, but I loved learning more about her and her start at Tiffanys through this interview!

Tell us a little bit about your company!

Tiffanys Bridal is Richmond’s oldest bridal store – we’re celebrating 45 years of Tiffanys Brides this year! However, I have worked tirelessly to transform this “something old” into “something new” for Richmond brides. When I became the new owner and manager in 2009, we moved to a new boutique in Ridge Shopping Center on Parham Road. The new location features spacious dressing rooms, easily accessible displays and an expanded selection – I hand-inspect samples of the gowns I purchase at national bridal markets and fashion shows to ensure the ...

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Real Richmond Wedding: Tara & Nate

Happy Wednesday!  We have another blog-exclusive wedding for you with beautiful photos from Third Eye Studios.  Meet Tara & Nate, everyone!

September 20, 2014

How They Met 

Tara and Nate met on At the time, Tara was feeling pretty pessimistic about the online dating scene. When their first date rolled around, she didn’t feel excited or nervous – she was just going through the motions. Going through the motions, that is, until she saw a gorgeous man waiting for her on the sidewalk of Capital Ale House.

Tara says, “I still remember exactly what he was wearing and the smell of his cologne. Our conversation flowed easily and he made me feel so comfortable. I was actually enjoying myself on a ‘Match date!’”

After a couple of weeks of great dates and conversation, Tara was working a night shift. She vividly remembers sitting at the nurses’ station at the Pediatric ER when Nate called to say good night. He ...

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Richmond Wedding Vendor Spotlight: Cakes by Graham

Today we are happy to introduce you to Graham Haddock, the owner and baker behind Cakes by Graham.  He makes such a beautiful (and delicious!) things!

Tell us a little bit about your company!

Cakes by Graham is Richmond, Virginia’s foremost cakery, having provided Central Virginia with the highest quality wedding and celebration cakes for over twenty years. We strive to always produce the highest quality, individually designed cakes for the fairest price. We have been honored to have been selected best Wedding Cakes, Best Cakes, and Best Groom’s Cakes for many years by our customers, Richmond Magazine and Virginia Living Magazine!

How did you get started in this business?

In 1991, I completed a 15 year career in the British Army Catering Corps. After serving in England, Northern Ireland, Norway, Germany, and the United States, my final assignment was as Senior Technical Instructor on the culinary exchange program at Fort Lee, Virginia. I then continued my culinary interests ...

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Real Richmond Weddings: Eve & Kyle

We have another wonderful blog-exclusive wedding to share with you!  When I think of a truly Richmond-inspired wedding, Eve & Kyle's wedding day always comes to mind.  You'll see why!

 May 24, 2014

How They Met 

Eve & Kyle met on, but they like to think their paths crossed earlier when they were attending VCU at the same time. Eve says, “We found that we attended a lot of the same parties and knew a lot of the same people – it’s crazy that we never met back then!” Their first date was very Richmond-esque, just like their wedding day. Being a VCU alumni, Kyle was ecstatic about the rising of the Final Four banner and turned it into a first date on 11-11-11. Eve loves numbers, so she had a feeling that this first date was definitely something special.

How He Asked

From the bride:

It happened on the most gorgeous summer day, July 6, 2013. We ...

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Meet Our January 2015 Cover Couple!

When we saw PW Photography's photo of Julie & Tim on the steps of the Capitol, we knew it was the perfect cover image for our Spring 2015 issue!  Meet Julie & Tim, everyone!

June 28, 2014

How They Met

On Cinco de Mayo, 2012, Julie & Timothy were set up on a blind couple’s date by their friends, Chris and Liz. (Julie worked with Liz and Timothy with Chris.) They definitely hit it off – it was a twelve hour long first date! The four of them visited two different wineries and had a night full of dancing.

How He Asked

On July 19th, 2013, the day before Tim’s birthday, he asked Julie to be ready for a surprise outing by 10:00AM. When 10:00 came, Tim gave her a white envelope that said, "Julie Goode, you are about to go on a special mission. Gather the items that this letter indicates ...

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