23 March 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Adult Bridesmaids

Royal weddings don't have adult bridesmaids. Seems like that was one of the few "facts" all royal commentators, no matter how ill-informed, could spout off...until Kate Middleton went off and asked her sister Pippa to be her maid of honor. What?! Was this a break with tradition? A royal bride going renegade? The answer: no, of course not. Adult royal bridesmaids are completely common, as is asking your sister to be a part of your wedding party. (Just like in real life, go figure.)

A quick inventory of notable British royal weddings will show you where the idea of children-only bridal parties came from: Sarah, Sophie and Anne were all accompanied by bands of kids. Diana had the oldest of the bunch, a teenage Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (couldn't exactly leave the management of a train like that to a bunch of four-year-olds, could she?).

Really, you could say that Kate's just skipping back a couple generations to mine her tradition: the chief bridesmaid at Queen Elizabeth's wedding was her sister Princess Margaret.

And the same occurred further back in history, too, and the weddings of the future Queen Mary, the future Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and Princess Marina (below, left to right).

More recently, Autumn Phillips rounded up a band of bridesmaids in strapless green Vera Wang for her 2008 wedding, including sister-in-law Zara Phillips. I'm still surprised no one told her shoulders ought to be covered in the church. It may have been a private wedding, but it was still held at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle! All the better to show off one's tan lines, I suppose.

Sisters Lady Davina and Lady Rose, daughters of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, swapped bridesmaid duties at their weddings.

Crown Princess Mary tied the knot with her two older sisters (and friend Amber Petty) by her side. These gowns were reportedly chosen by the Queen and Mary together, but I think we know which one had the final say, based on color alone. I don't mind the dresses, but the hair...it's like plopping a dinner roll on the back of your head.

One of Princess Máxima's sisters served as a bridesmaid in a gown perfect for a February wedding, if regrettably made from the red carpet remainders.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit had a friend to help manage her delicate bridal gown, as did Queen Sonja before her.

And we can't forget the sequins on parade at Tatiana Blatnik's wedding.
On second thought: I take back what I said about Autumn's strapless gowns. At least those gowns were intrinsically attractive. I'd take those a million times over if I could erase the memory of this Greek tragedy.

Travel back a generation, and you'll see Greece's Princess Irene supporting her sister Princess Sofia and her sister-in-law Queen Anne-Marie at their respective weddings.

Queen Beatrix, as a wee Crown Princess, called on her sister Princess Christina (among others) for some train assistance.
I love the way they carry the train, like the little birds that flocked around Disney's Cinderella. Perhaps they whistled a happy tune while they worked.

Princess Grace brought a bevy of sunshine-colored attendants with her, and she didn't even have that large of a train to manage.

The list, as you can imagine, goes on and on:
These are bridesmaids from the weddings of (left to right): Princess Anita, Princess Aimée, Princess Laurentien, and Princess Mabel.

If you extend the field to teenagers, you get even more to pick from, including Lady Sarah Chatto's lookalike maids.
One of the most memorable bridesmaid dress designs ever to appear in a royal wedding, if you ask my opinion. And one of the more flattering ensembles, too. Perhaps the reason why other royal weddings have been devoid of adult bridesmaids is because it's hard to find an adult willing to spend her 15 minutes of fame in a color-coordinated outfit? We're not seeing anything worth of a place in 27 Dresses or anything, but still: there are far, far more flattering things to be worn.

Here's hoping Pippa's got plenty of say in what her sister's cooking up for the big day! Which of these would you be game to wear? Anything you wouldn't be caught dead in?