Bridesmaids: best friends, planners of bridal showers, bachelorette partygoers, protectors from evil spirits. No? Are you not familiar with that last one?

The coveted spot of bridesmaid wasn’t always a fun, hair and makeup-filled, non-life-threatening position. The tradition has history dating back centuries and none of it has to do with the endearing concept it typically is today.

According to the book “Town and Country the Bridesmaid’s Companion” by Valerie Berrios, the notion of a bridesmaid dates back to the Romans. In this era, a bride would usually have to travel great distances in order to meet her husband on their wedding day. To safely make the journey, without issue from kidnappers or robbers, the bride was accompanied by a group of ladies dressed exactly like the bride to help trick those wishing her harm.

Berrios further explains, “the Romans eventually made it law for a marrying couple to have 10 witnesses present at their wedding to protect them from misfortune brought on by evil spirits.” Additionally, these witnesses were required to dress as the bride and groom as to confuse and ward off evil spirits, who wished to bring them harm.

Berrios goes on to say that the tradition of bridal attendants dressing as the bride continued into the 19th century. The number of attendants a bride had reflecting her family’s wealth and considered a status marker.

Queen Victoria, who we have to thank for the popularity and eventual tradition of wearing a white wedding dress, had 12 maids in her bridal party, who also wore white, to compliment her look.

Though some could argue we have a lot of evil spirits in the world today, we typically do not see evil surrounding a wedding. These celebrations are filled with love, happiness, some dancing and, if you’re in the right month, maybe a little crawfish.