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To veil or not to veil?

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Why do brides wear veils on their wedding day?

Now’s clearly the time to work out why brides wear massive sheets of chiffon on their head.

We are, of course, talking about the veil. The dramatic, elegant, but probably very irritating in practice veil. I never had a veil so I can’t really comment! But  I do have it on good authority that they can be a pain! veil weights are worth getting as they do help!

Why do we wear them? What do they mean? And when did they become a thing that all traditional brides would wear?

The truth is, no one’s entirely sure. Veils came into practice at different points in different cultures, and have seen dips and increases in their popularity. But here are the main reasons and theories behind a bride’s NEED to wear a veil.

 Brides wear veils to ward off demons

Here's why brides wear veils on their wedding day

Wedding veils started being a thing in Roman times, when brides were covered from head to toe in a massive red veil called ‘flammeum’.

Why? Because Romans were scared of evil spirits popping into the ceremony to curse the couple. They thought that making it look like the bride was on fire would scare them off. Makes sense.

This belief eventually progressed into using the veil to confuse spirits, which makes a bit more sense than the fire thing. The Romans figured that by covering up the bride’s face, the spirit wouldn’t be able to make their attack as they wouldn’t be sure who the bride actually was.

 

 Brides wear veils to hide their damn face

Here's why brides wear veils on their wedding day

From the ashes of the spirit confusion theory rose a new preference for veils being used to hide the bride’s identity. But this time, she wasn’t protecting who she was from spirits – she was trying to keep her face a secret from her groom.

In early weddings when marriages were arranged entirely through fathers, with the bride given away in exchange for money and goods, dads giving away their daughters wanted to hide their face until the last possible minute, so that a less attractive bride wouldn’t spoil the agreement. How sweet.

This eventually got transformed into the ‘cute’ tradition that decrees that men can’t see their bride before the wedding. Romantic, huh?

 

Brides wore veils so they couldn’t run away

Here's why brides wear veils on their wedding day

Veils and trains were used to weigh down the bride and prevent them from running away when they met their new husband for the first time. Seriously!!

 

Brides wear veils to symbolise their virginity

Young bride portrait

And their ‘purity’. Agh.

It’s all to do with being covered, and the veil being a thinly veiled (pun intended) reference to ladies parts! ahem. Veil intact, virginity intact. So you can go right ahead and get wedded.

 

Brides have their veils lifted as a sign of ownership

A groom lifting the veil of his bride

Think about it this way: whoever unwraps a present is the owner, right?

So through the ages, tradition has stated that the father of the bride must lower the veil on his daughter’s face, in order to ‘gift’ her to her new husband.

Once they’re about to get married, the husband can then lift the veil, symbolising his new ownership of his bride.

 

Brides wear veils to show that their love is more than skin-deep

Bride at Wedding by lake, Jiuzhaigou National Park

If you still want to wear a veil purely for the prettiness factor, don’t stress. There’s another, non-horrifying reason behind the tradition.

In the Jewish faith, veils are meant to act as a public display that the groom isn’t just marrying his bride because of how she looks.

He’s basically saying ‘I love you so much, I would marry you even if I can’t see your face.’ Aww.

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© 2016 Emma Bovington

MAKING YOUR WEDDING ABOUT YOU