The Wedding Veil, Unveiled: Everything You Need to Know About This Bridal Accessory

It has something related to virginity—or could it be evil spirits? Here's a rundown of the items wedding veils symbolize, their history, plus much more.

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If you’ve watched any version of Say Yes towards the Dress, you most likely already know concerning the inherent magic of wedding veils. As soon as a veil is positioned on a customer’s head, her face illuminates, the tears begin to flow, and she or he somehow transforms right into a bride. But what’s this is behind a veil? Does a bride have to wear one on her behalf big day? Is it bad luck to not? There are many questions surrounded this beloved bit of fabric, and we’re here to provide you with the full scoop to help you decide whether wearing a bridal veil in your wedding day fits your needs.

When did brides start wearing wedding veils?

According to fashion historian Cornelia Powell in her own book The End from the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding, Roman brides began wearing veils during olden days to protect them from evil spirits so that as a nod for an important goddess. “Scholars inform us that the saffron-colored veil worn by brides of ancient Rome symbolized the flame of Vesta, goddess of hearth and home, protector of life,” Powell writes. The wedding veil also represented the bride to be’s virginity—that being obsessed with a veil meant she was pure.

Perhaps surprisingly, the bridal veil was really not worn for a lot of history, only going back to fashion within the 19th century when Queen Victoria wore one. In fact, based on Powell, veils since the bride's face weren't allowed at royal weddings. At the time, most royal weddings were arranged marriages, there was concern the bride would enlist a decoy to consider her place and hide her identity having a veil.

Veils also provide significance in a few religions and cultures. For example, within the Jewish religion the bridal veil plays an important role within the Bedeken ceremony, in which the groom covers the bride to be's face together with her veil. This act is really a nod towards the Biblical story of Jacob, who had been tricked into marrying his intended Rachel's sister Leah, who had been disguised having a veil. At the Bedeken, your daughter's groom is required to "check" and ensure he is marrying the right person.

What does a marriage veil symbolize?

This seemingly-simple bridal accessory often means different things to various people and cultures. Yes, the veil can represent purity, modesty, and virginity, however it can also just feel feminine, mysterious, sexy, or simply feel "bridal". Writes Powell, “Is the romance of wearing a bridal veil part from the ‘fairy princess myth’? Or is there something so irresistibly feminine about feeling mysterious—cocooned in sheer iridescent tulle, or encompassed by delicate lace, or using the veil just floating behind—leaving ‘princess blessings’ in her own bridal wake?” All this to express, you can put on a veil since it has some symbolic meaning for you, or you can put on a headpiece simply because you like the appearance.

Do I have to put on a veil?

No! Wearing a veil is completely optional. There are numerous things to consider into consideration when deciding whether or not to put on a veil. We recommend fitting several veils after you have selected the wedding gown to determine what looks best. Even if you didn't think you would be into wearing a veil, here's your one chance to do so, and seeing yourself inside a veil may change your mind. But if you're simply not into the whole wedding tradition of wearing a veil and would prefer to put on a different hair accessory just like a flower crown, tiara, or headband—or none at all—that's totally your call.

Remember, too, that the veil is definitely an accessory that needs a lot of care and maintenance—particularly if you are opting for an extended style. Veils ought to be steamed prior to the wedding to prevent any wrinkles or creases. And longer veils will have to be carried—either yourself or because of your bridesmaids—so they do not get dirty. While most brides remove their veils for his or her reception, if you want to put on yours, someone inside your entourage will need to learn how you can bustle it.

Who lifts the veil throughout the wedding ceremony?

If you're wearing a veil having a blusher that covers the face area, you may be wondering who the "unveiling" or lifting from the veil at the ceremony. Well, there are some options. If the bride to be's father is walking her on the aisle, he might lift the bride to be's veil because he "gives her away"—an act some may consider too dated and gendered. Or, the bride to be may choose to put on her blusher throughout the ceremony and also have her partner lift it to kiss her at the conclusion. Or, the bride to be can just lift the darn thing herself—the option is yours!

What are some from the most popular wedding veil styles?

There are numerous different types of veils to select from—it all depends in your wedding dress style, your selected hairstyle, the face shape, as well as your venue. If you're marriage indoors, you are able to take your pick of veil styles—long, short, or anything between. If you're hosting a backyard wedding, though, an extended veil may well be a bit unwieldy whether it's breezy—but an extended veil blowing within the wind may also look ethereal and delightful so again, your decision!

These are the most widely used veil styles you will see, though within each style you will find both easy and ornate options. Veils might be adorned with lace, crystals, appliques, and more—or they might be kept unadorned.

Cathedral-Length Veil: Among the longest veils available, the cathedral-length style extends a foot or two behind a full-length wedding dress.

Chapel-Length Veil: A chapel-length veil falls several inches behind your a full-length wedding dress.

Blusher: The part from the veil that covers the face, or perhaps a shorter veil style that covers your whole face.

Mantilla: A Spanish-style lace-trimmed veil worn flat on the top from the head.

Elbow-Length Veil: A 1960s style veil worn high on the top that falls for your elbows.

Fingertip-Length Veil: A mid-length veil that stops slightly through your waist.

Ballet-Length Veil: A veil that falls through your hips.

Birdcage Veil: A short, retro-style veil that covers only the top half of the face.

Dupatta Scarf: A long and ornate veil since the head and shoulders worn by Indian brides.

Where should I buy my wedding veil?

Most bridal salons provide a selection of veils. It might be easiest to select a veil out of your salon's offerings simultaneously you select your dress. However, you will find many online learning resources for veils, including Etsy, BHLDN, David's Bridal, and Brides & Hairpins. Or, if there's an heirloom veil which has been worn by people in your or perhaps your spouse's family, you might opt to put on it .

How much does a veil cost?

According to some WeddingWire study, the typical cost of a marriage veil is simply under $200. However, you are able to certainly spend much more than when you want a very ornate veil.

Can I wear a veil if I’ve been married before?

You may have heard an old-fashioned "etiquette rule" that brides who've been married before can't wear a veil or perhaps a white dress, for instance. However, times have clearly changed and when you want to put on a veil for the second wedding, it's absolutely fine—and encouraged—to achieve this. Some brides may prefer to put on a more unique or shorter veil, just like a birdcage, for any second wedding, but you can rock an extended veil if you love!


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