History of the wedding veil

Getty Images

Name a more iconic bridal accessory than the wedding veil. While some traditions are considered archaic, the veil continues to thrive and is now more adopted by those who choose to marry.

“Veils are still very popular; I believe they will continue to be an integral part of wedding fashion, ”says Lucia Travaglino, director of accessories at Kleinfield Bridal. “Whether the bride likes drama and wants a tiered, cathedral-length lace and pearl veil or a simple one-tier, one-tier elbow style made of tulle, we still see very often brides walking down the aisle wearing a veil.”

This classic hairpiece can often be the “it” factor to upgrade an entire look – it’s no wonder people are still doing everything they can centuries later. “Today people have fallen in love with the veil more than ever,” agrees Tara Fay, owner of Tara Fay Events. “Especially at the moment when everyone needs a bit of frivolity.”

Fay, who helps plan weddings and other luxury events, encourages her clients to go all out in dressing for their special day. “I think everything goes with a veil now,” she says. “Short, long, medium, a combination – the more, the better.”

As extravagant as this headdress may appear, the wedding veil actually has a deep history in many cultures. Check out its evolution below.

The origins of the wedding veil:

History of the wedding veil

History of the wedding veil

Getty Images Wedding in Ancient Greece, Engraving by Ernesto Mancastropa and Francesco Cantagalli after a painting by Giuseppe Sciuti, from L’Illrazione Italiana, no.10, March 9, 1890.

Wedding veils can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, where they were believed to ward off evil spirits. Wedding historian and expert Susan Wagoner tells Brides that the veil hid the brides from anything that might deter their happiness, and it also represented “the birth of a humble and pristine virgin.”

The story goes on

The veil also played an important role in preventing the superstition that it was bad luck to see the groom before the wedding. According to the Richmond Times dispatch, the veil hid the bride’s face to ensure the groom couldn’t see her face until the ceremony.

Veils did not begin as white either. Brides used to wear brightly colored fabrics and matching veils to deter these evil spirits. It was not until the 19th century that the veil became the classic hair accessory that we know and love today. Wagoner goes on to explain to brides that Queen Victoria was the first modern monarch to marry in a white gown and matching white veil, which defined the all-white dress tradition for the bride, which moved forward and brought the veil back into fashion.

Wedding veils have a religious meaning:

History of the wedding veil

History of the wedding veil

Getty Images

Veils worn to ward off evil spirits may be a less popular reason for brides to wear them today, but they still have great significance when the bride is religious. According to Travalingo, veils provide a way for brides to worship their cultural beliefs. Wedding veils, she says, are a visual reminder of traditions cherished by every generation.

A tradition for some religions is humility. The hijab is a religious veil that Muslim women wear in the presence of men outside their immediate family. It covers the hair, head and chest and is worn daily. The burqa is a veil that is worn by women in some Islamic traditions and covers the entire face except for the eye area to signal modesty as well.

At weddings, the meaning of the veil can be traced back to religious scriptures. According to Wedding Wire, the act of the groom covering the bride’s face with a veil in the Jewish religion relates to the biblical story of Jacob who was tricked into marrying his intended Rachel’s sister Leah who covered her face with a veil hid. The covering of the bride, called the bedeken, is used so that the groom can ensure that he is marrying the right person. (Tricia Christensen writes in an article for InfoBloom that this ceremonial veil also symbolizes “the groom’s respect for the bride regardless of her beauty”.)

In Christianity, the veil represents humility, purity, awe of the good, and a reminder of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. “The removal of the veil removed the separation between God and man and gave believers access to the presence of God,” writes Mary Fairchild in Learn Religions. “Since Christian marriage is an image of the oneness between Christ and the Church, we see a further reflection of this relationship in the removal of the bridal veil. Through marriage, the couple now have full access to one another.”

How to wear a wedding veil today:

History of the wedding veil

History of the wedding veil

Getty Images

There are several ways to incorporate veils into an outfit. Kate Beavis, who runs the Magpie Wedding blog, credits celebs for bringing retro styles back to the forefront of veil trends. “Kate Moss wore a 1930s-style cathedral-length veil in 2011, which sparked his popularity,” says Beavis. “Recently, Ariana Grande wore a 1960s-style veil and large bow, as did Gwen Stefani a few weeks later; I can now see this becoming popular.”

Fay says she sees people update the classic piece by pairing it with a modern outfit or shortening its length for civil ceremonies and opting for larger celebrations. “It’s often the only time a bride can create her own look, and more and more often they choose a short veil for the later evening with a longer veil for the ceremony,” she says. “It’s often added to take the guesswork out of what to do with the hair, and it also gives two looks: one with a veil and one without it.”

Travaglino adds that many people opt for more extravagance when it comes to their veils. “I love to see modern and clean dresses with long lace veils as they add a really romantic feel,” she says. She adds that designers incorporate elaborate beadwork, as well as 3D lace and flowers into veils for intricate designs. Some popular brands she recommends to showcase this trend are Rivini, Sareh Nouri, and Pnina Tornai.

Veils aren’t just gender specific either. Both Fay and Travaglino see this hair accessory as something that everyone uses. “I’ve definitely seen veils become a more inclusive accessory for anyone getting married,” says Travaglino. “I think it’s great that the designers we work with at Kleinfeld are all looking for modern styles to suit wedding couples. Fortunately, our longstanding relationships with our designers allow us to work with our brides to create the perfect accessories for them and their partners. “

There is no wrong way to wear a veil. It’s all about what makes you happy. “I love to see how different styles get mixed up and couples put their own twist on an outfit,” says Fay. “Who says a bride can only wear a veil? Who says a veil has to be white or off-white? Mix it up and have a shocking pink. My motto is this is your wedding, make it your way . “