The rise of the ‘bridesman’ and ‘groomsmaid’

// 21 December 2007

It sometimes takes a story like this one in the New York Daily News, to get your head around just how mired down in conventional gender-role thinking the world really is.

Ostensibly a piece about the growing popularity of the ‘bridesmen’ – or male friends who take on the traditional ‘bridesmaid’ role in a wedding, and their female counterpart, the ‘groomsmaid’, the fact that men have female friends and women have male friends is shocking enough to prompt a news story is interesting in itself.

It’s also interesting how much emphasis is placed on what a ‘bridesman’ or ‘groomsmaid’ should wear down the aisle:

“I wanted to wear a chocolate blazer to match the girls’ dresses, but I just ended up in a tuxedo,” he says with a little bit of disappointment in his voice.

O’Keefe’s pal was right to limit his fashion impulses. Murray says the trick to mixing genders in the wedding party is to integrate the fashion as much as possible.

“I don’t think a woman needs to wear a tuxedo, but she should dress akin to the groomsmen … maybe the same color dress. She shouldn’t wear the same thing as the bridesmaids,” Murray counsels. “For the ‘man-tendant,’ he can wear a suit and then set himself apart from the other men with a tie or pocket square to match the bridesmaid dresses.”

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