The surprising story behind the colorful custom

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Today, anything goes when it comes to dressing the bridal party. It’s not unexpected to find bridesmaids donning mismatched dresses in varied hues, but that assorted approach to wedding party attire is a relatively new idea. It’s long been customary for all bridesmaids to dress in the same color—have you ever wondered why?

According to Mental Floss, for centuries bridesmaids dressed alike—and like the bride—so that they could act as diversions: “Any glad tidings had the potential to attract evil spirits, for one thing—and then there were all the would-be grooms the bride had turned away.” The idea, which dates to Ancient Rome, was that the matching attire would ward off spirits and suitors just long enough to complete the wedding ceremony. Who knew matching dresses could be so useful?

While these particular rationales have faded over the centuries—admittedly, warding off evil spirits isn’t the biggest item on our wedding planning to-do lists—we do still love matching styles when it comes to bridal party attire. That’s why we have gathered plenty of ideas for bridesmaids’ dresses that would look lovely all lined up in a row. On the other hand, if you’re into the equally lovely mixed-and-matched look, be sure to read 4 Ways To Let Your Bridesmaids Choose Their Own Dresses (and Still Get the Look You Want).

WATCH: 10 Things Southern Bridesmaids Know

If you’re getting ready to assemble your bridal party, also be sure to check out our favorite original ways to ask your friends to be your bridesmaids. (Bridesmaid proposals are a thing, y’all!) Also, don’t forget to send your wedding party this article—just so they’re all prepared for what it takes to pull off a Southern wedding in style.

What colors do you prefer for bridesmaids dresses? What colors did you (or would you) include in your bridal palette?