Why we're ditching the term 'bridesmaids'

I've been thinking more and more about who will be my bridesmaids and my maid of honour. Friends and family have asked me several times if I have anyone in mind and I've been excitedly planning ways to pop the question to some of these wonderful people in my life. However, I have made the choice to not ask anyone for quite some time, mainly due to us not having a wedding date or a wedding venue just yet. It doesn't seem logical to ask someone to be a part of something when they don't know if they'll be available or even in the country at the time, especially since our long engagement will likely span years.

Considering who I would ask to stand up there with me and Josh on the big day got me thinking about the two terms in general - 'bridesmaid' and 'maid/matron of honor'.

An issue I ran into quickly was that I don't intend to have an all-female bridal party. If I have one or two close male friends who I want to be a part of our wedding day why wouldn't I ask them to stand up there next to me? Along with this, I really cannot imagine asking a close male friend to be my 'bridesmaid', the term just didn't seem inclusive enough.

Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a big deal and is seen as a desired spot for many women. But when I looked more and more into the origins of the two terms I came across another issue - they're a bit sexist...

If we look into the origins of the terms maid and matron we find that they are directly linked with a women's sexual status. 'Maidenhood' refers to a woman still holding her virginity, whereas 'matronhood' instead is associated with a married woman (who has presumably lost her virginity). This is why the terms 'matron of honour' and 'bridesmatron' exist. Realistically, in this day and age, that means that all of the women I ask would be referred to as matrons. A term that I don't think they would find most appealing.
My main concern is that I don't believe anyone should be defined by their sexual status! Many of us no longer live in a world where we are required to remain virgins prior to marriage. A study in the Britain found the mean age that people lost their virginity at to be 16-18 years old, whilst another in the US found that 95% of people have sex prior to marriage.

Along with this, the term 'groomsmen' has no link with sexual status whatsoever and instead refers to the men who helped their friend to capture his bride and then stood guard to protect the groom from his bride's angry family (also referred to as 'bride-knights'). Another meaning behind 'groomsmen' is that they were the men who protected the bride - and her dowry - on the way to a negotiated union, where everything was counted out and measured to bind the two families in a dynastically suitable manner.

One of the great things about weddings today is that couples are opting more and more to have an occasion that reflects them as a couple and the values they hold. Whilst these terms cause issues for us, this does not at all mean that they do for others.
There are couples who have the same problems with these titles and in an attempt to combat their sexist connotations many have opted to use an alternative title for their bridal party. Some of the names I've found online that have been used are - the bridal brigade, best people, the pew crew, I do crew and (a personal favourite) the harbingers of wedding cheer. We currently don't know what name we're going to adopt for our bridal party (and maybe even the groomsmen) but would appreciate any comments with suggestions! I'll be sure to write another post when we've decided and might even include a list of the best suggestions we've had.

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