I was reading Lafcadio Hearn's New Orleans Superstitions, when I came upon this proverb:

There are many superstitions about marriage, which seem to have a European origin, but are not less interesting on that account. "Twice a bridesmaid, never a bride," is a proverb which needs no comment.

Is there a vodun, voodoo or even European story behind the superstition?

  • 1
    FWIW, in the English oral tradition I have only ever heard "three times a bridesmaid, never a bride", never twice.
    – user1618
    Jun 2 '16 at 20:48

From what I gather, the origin is uncertain, but it seems common sense that "if association with a bride and the high profile of the day did not attract a husband after two opportunities, then perhaps there was little hope" (Marriage Customs of the World 98).

In terms of pinpointing the locale of the superstition, I believe that the modern use of bridesmaids -- in the sense that they appear alongside the bride at the time of wedding -- stems perhaps from Biblical origins, at least if you believe Wikipedia, and so it makes sense that this superstition would crop up in Europe.

Further research is needed.

  • 1
    +1 for sources, and for "further research is needed" :)
    – user62
    Jan 25 '16 at 22:31

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