One of the most time-honoured traditions still in existence today is the wedding day. Traditional weddings include a host of specific customs that brides typically engage in, one of them being wearing a wedding veil.
For centuries, lovebirds and strangers have been getting hitched and brides donned the famous headwear. Widely considered just another fashion accessory on your big day, the wedding veil actually has an interesting history.
The history of the the wedding veil
The wedding veil is arguably the oldest part of the wedding ensemble. There is some contention over its specific history, but most wedding historians pinpoint ancient Greeks and Romans as the first people to wear the wedding veil. According to Julie Sabatino, expert bridal stylist and founder of the The Stylish Bride, brides of this time wore the wedding veil to disguise themselves from evil spirits aiming to spoil their joy. Some accounts show that veils were red in hue to symbolise the fire of the betrothed’s commitment as well as to ward off evil spirits.
Wedding historian Susan Waggoner speaks of the Christian symbolism of the veil, telling Brides.com that in ancient times, people “wrapped brides from head to toe to represent the delivery of a modest and untouched maiden.” These were also the days of arranged marriages, when a bride’s virginity was her most important marker. The veil thus became a way of representing modesty and purity. The veil also acted as a method of concealing the bride’s face to the groom to prevent him from getting cold feet and running away from the stranger he was about to marry.
In Judaism biblical times, the groom would place the veil on his bride as a symbol that he was marrying her for her inner beauty.
The 18th century saw the veil fall out of fashion as brides opted for caps, bonnets, tiaras, jewels, wreaths and other adornments. However, they came back in style when Queen Victoria donned a four yards (3,7m) by 0.75 yards (0.7m) wide veil during her wedding to Prince Albert on 10 February, 1840. Following her iconic wedding, the veil became a symbol for wealth, status and style. The length, weight and quality of the veil all spoke highly of the status of the bride. This is why royal brides traditionally wore the longest veils.
The wedding veil today
Today, the wedding veil is largely seen as an optional accessory. Many brides opt out of wearing wedding veils. Some consider it too traditional and unnecessary, others just don’t like the look. However, it is still quite popular and is largely used as another fashionable element to your Big Day. Many celebrity brides have famously donned the wedding veil, including Ciara, Princess Diana, Kim Kardashian and Duchess Meghan Markle.
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