One of the most famous brides of history, Queen Victoria, defied tradition and wore an orange blossom wreath with her veil instead of a tiara.
In my collection of 1930’s wedding photographs, the brides stand alone or with their bridesmaids, poised and posed. All of them wear veils. In the midst of the great depression they stand swathed in silk satin, the highly reflective surfaces rippling and cascading around them. Their veils mist around their heads and shoulders add to the drama of the occasion. Their wedding attire is familiar to us. The brides wear white, heads are draped with veils, holding bouquets. Not much has changed in 80 years.
For a while the flower crown usurped our taste for veils, veils were seen as too traditional. The huge media coverage of the recent Royal weddings has definitely revived our interest.Meghan’s veil provided a soft contrast to the sleek sculptural lines of her wedding dress. She continued a tradition in the Royal family of including the floral emblems of commonwealth countries in her veil.
What does a veil do?
It signals to us that the wearer is the bride - there can be no doubt about this.
It adds a definite sense of drama mystery and theatre.
Why wear a veil?
It might seem anachronistic for a bride to wear a veil at a modern day wedding considering that in the past the veil symbolised virginity and modesty. For some women wearing a veil is part of a cultural tradition that they want to honour for others it is part of being a fashionable bride. Some of the veils recent popularity is because of nostalgia and the interest in vintage fashion.
Today women are wearing veils because they choose to not because they have to.
Imagine the drama of wearing a veil. They add to the visual impact of the bride’s entrance. Veils take on the environment around them, and are equally wonderful with lighting and in natural light. They are full of movement in the wind and gently ripple in a breeze. A veil adds volume, height or length (or all of these).
Veils invoke the past, referencing heroines like Juliet or Ophelia (never mind that they were tragic). The tiara or circlet holding the veil in place can suggest angels and spirituality.
What makes a beautiful wedding veil?
Start with the fabric
Even the simplest of veils can be beautiful if the fabric is. Most veils are made from tulle, a net like fabric. There are different types of tulle available. At Pearl Button we use silk tulle for its diaphanous and lustrous qualities. We attach the veil to a metal hair comb with a silk binding. It’s all about the details. If lace is used it is applied by hand with tiny invisible stitches. We often use antique glass beads to weigh the edges down and still keep it light. I think that if it’s made from beautiful precious materials it’s more likely to be cared for and passed on to become an heirloom. Plus a veil really doesn’t take up much storage space.
There are so many things you can do with a veil. A veil can be embellished with a tiara, real flowers or a vintage orange blossom wreath such as Queen Victoria’s.
Traditionally the veil covered the bride’s face until after the vows had been exchanged then came the big reveal. Just like in a theatre when the curtain opens.
Let the celebration continue!