Let me describe my wedding attitude. Let’s call it my Wedditude. (No, wait, let’s not.) I am not a traditional person. However, I don't want to throw an idea out simply because it’s the norm. I don’t want to do something different just for the sake of being different, either. Nowadays there’s a new attitude towards weddings (wedditude wedditude) that focuses on making them not just personalized but meaningful and true to yourselves. So I’m looking at each element of ‘normal’ weddings and examining it to determine if it’s a good fit for me. (Er, I mean us. Right.)
So on that note, let’s talk about veils. To be upfront- I don’t really like them. At least not on me. Ok, I haven’t technically worn a veil since I was 7 and performed an original song entitled “I’m Getting Married” for a talent show my neighbor, her Irish foreign exchange student houseguest, and I put on for her parents (sample lyrics: “I’m going to marry, a boy named Harry, I’m getting Maaaarried!”) but my fashion sense has evolved a bit since then. (Saddly, my songwriting skills have not.)
Right, so, 3… er, 25+ year old me and veils don’t seem to match. But before I throw them out the window, I decided to investigate the concept.
Many modern wedding traditions have stuck around for hundreds of years. One theory on the origin of bridal veils dates back to the height of the Roman Empire. Brides wore veils to hide from evil spirits and protect them from the gaze of the evil eye. Vikings, asian cultures and many others believed in this superstition. In fact at one time veils were painted with flames to scare the spirits off. I’d like to see that trend come back! The Chinese actually carried wedding umbrellas (which connects to the wedding parasol look) and the Japanese wear really cool looking headdresses called tsunokakushi and wataboshi.
So- do I connect with this? Well, no, but that’s okay. If veils ward off bad luck, they could be considered a good luck charm. I’ve been known to wish on a star or an eyelash or a wishbone. I may not believe in it but the history doesn’t offend me, at least. It's kind of cute, like the whole Old, New, Borrowed, Blue (And a sixpence in her shoe) deal.
Another veil origin- arranged marriages. The bride was concealed so that the groom wouldn’t try to back out of the deal if she was ugly. Conversely, she was also covered in case she was very pretty, so no one would try to kill the groom over her beauty. Hm. I guess the grooms aren’t making out too good in these scenarios either.
The lifting of the veil was also a form of ceremony relating to the bride as chattel to be traded. The groom lifts the veil to symbolize opening a gift and taking possession of it.
The rise of veil popularity is actually accredited to the rise of Islam, in which veils rose in use by women and came to represent modesty and purity. This transferred to the ‘white wedding’ and was symbolic of a virgin bride, and again, the groom being the first to reveal her and take her virginity. The veiled bride portrayed submission, chastity, a willingness to obey her husband.
So, do I relate to this?
What do you think?
The Jewish roots are pretty interesting. A bridal veil conveyed the woman’s right to her personal space; a nod to the superiority of inner beauty; and a promise by the groom to clothe her from that day forward.
Well, okay. I like all those things.
In modern time, veils lost the bulk of their meaning and became, for most, simply an accessory. In the earlier part of the 20th Century, they shrunk to mimic fashion and economic climates- hence the birdcage veil. By the 1980s & 90s, the bridal industry had swollen with a love of excess, and veils ballooned in size. Who can forget Princess Diana’s 25 foot long cathedral veil train? Or Star Jones’ 27 foot long veil, which holds the record for the longest ever. (Wow, I could really go on at length with what I thought of Star Jones and her wedding, but let’s stay on topic.)
So now let’s just talk fashion.
Veils come in various lengths- most commonly elbow, fingertip (self-explanatory) and cathedral (which is floor length- or longer, if you’re very formal, a princess, or an ego-maniac talk show host marrying a gay man. Oops!) You also choose whether they are tiered or not, which seems to come down to whether or not you want a ‘blusher’- a piece that covers your face. Also called a chapel veil. Actually, I’m not going to even describe them all, try this glossary from the knot: Knot Veil Glossary.
And birdcage veils, also called Russian or fishnet:
To be fair, I think they look very pretty on some girls. It seems most people just see them as emblematic of ‘bride’, just as much as the white dress. Although it’s sentiments like the one below, from The Knot, that make me want to run screaming:
“For photos that really say "It's my day!" you'll want a veil that makes a statement from the front as well as the back. One such variety is a fountain veil (also called a waterfall), which rises up from the top of your head. This style adds height, which may be desirable to petite brides, but it's a poor choice if it will make you taller than your groom.”
I cannot begin to describe the many ways that scares me. Ladies, I’m sure someone out there has rocked a fountain veil and rocked it good, but in my case, I would probably look like I had indeed just fallen into a fountain and climbed out with something stuck to the top of my head, drowning me in tulle. Pass. It’ll still be ‘my day’.
Hoo boy. Then you also have to think about the material, embellishments, and how you’ll wear it- barrettes, combs, pins, fascinator, or tiaras or crowns. Folks, I do own a tiara, actually. But I wore it as a 15/16 year old with flannel and plastic clothing, and once to a school dance with this exquisite little black Betsey Johnson dress that had a sort of faux wood paneling finish that I’ve insisted on keeping even though I’m not likely to see the days of Size 2 again anytime soon. But otherwise, yes, my tiara wearing was purely a la Courtney Love, i.e., ironically.
1996. I'm Miss World
Anyway, we’ll come back to this at another time when we start talking hairstyles. (Which happens to be the category Mike has his strongest wedding opinion about!) I feel pretty confident that I’m still going to ditch the veil, although there are some birdcage styles that have caught my eye. (And a few more that just look like they’d get caught in my eye.) And of course, crafty, stylish, and offbeat girls are creating their own unique looks!
So what’s my decision? Still leaning heavily sans veil- although I’m now sincerely concerned someone might glimpse my bridal beauty and attempt to murder Mike. But, it’s a risk he’s willing to take.