Picture from WeddingVenues.com
The Western tradition of having bridesmaid is believed to have originated from Roman Law. The law required 10 witnesses at a wedding ceremony to outsmart evil spirits by having the bridesmaids wear dresses as similar to the wedding gown as possible. This was to make it difficult for the spirit to know who was getting married and hence prevent the spirit from causing mischief.
Bridesmaids are typically unwed young women of marriageable age, and are often close friends or sisters of the bride. Historically, no person of status went out unattended, and the size of the wedding party was thus closely calculated to approximate the family's social status i.e. the larger the group of bridesmaids, the higher the family's social status and wealth. Today, the number of bridesmaids in a wedding party is no longer an indication of wealth or status, but dependent on variables like bride's preferences and the size of her family.
Although many Singapore brides like to have many "sisters", the bridesmaids' duties are in fact very limited during the actual wedding day. Besides providing practical and emotional support, bridesmaids assist the bride in preparing her wedding dress, her bridal shoes, and helping the bride manage her veil, flower bouquet, prayer book, or the train of her wedding dress. Apart from this, there is little else to do.
Perhaps out of boredom, or with the goal of extracting as much hongbao as possible from the groom, bridesmaids in Singapore have the additional role of planning the wedding gatecrash. Here, the bridesmaids make the groom and his "band of brothers" do a series of challenges to demonstrate this worthiness to marry their friend.
At the end of the day, having bridesmaids is now more a matter of personal preference than necessity. At SG Wedding Guru, we believe that you only get married once and if having more bridesmaids will make your day more memorable, go for it.