What is the tradition?
During the ceremony (but often removed for the reception), the bride's outfit includes a veil. Depending on the venue (e.g., church versus golf course), religion, family culture, and other factors such as personal preferences and style, this may range from a full, cathedral length veil, extending as a train on the floor, to a fascinator with a short mesh hanging over one's forehead, and anywhere in between.
What is the origin of the tradition?
There is a long history of women wearing veils in general society, not just at weddings, so ultimately it appears to me that the significance is one of separating women from men, as being held to higher standards of modesty, and possibly even showing ownership (i.e., only males who are related to you should see your face).
Within weddings specifically, the veil tradition evolved to take on additional meaning. In ancient times, it may have been intended to protect the bride from evil spirits. In times of arranged marriages, it may indeed have prevented the groom from seeing the bride and being disappointed while he still had an out. In times of strong Christian culture, it likely became a symbol of purity and virginity, along with the white dress.
Why do people still follow it?
Similarly to the dress, the veil has been built up in people's mind as the epitome of womanhood; the ultimate signifier that this woman is a bride. If you've ever watched a show like Say Yes to the Dress (I'll ashamedly admit to this), you know that if a shopper is hesitating, the consultants add a veil, and that often does the trick - you make you feel like a bride, and she'll buy everything that makes her look like that role.
There may also be a religious/purity aspect to it still in some cases, but fortunately I think that's becoming less and less common, in all but the most extreme subcultures.
Why is that crap?
Women wearing veils is ultimately based on separating women from society, and then the purity/virginity implications make it even worse. Even if you don't personally hold the beliefs under which the tradition developed, why unintentionally pay homage to those beliefs?
Plus, it generally covers up the pretty hairdo (and often a gorgeous back of a dress) you spend so much money and/or time on!
What am I doing with this tradition?
I had absolutely no interest in wearing a veil, so I didn't! I didn't want to feel like a "bride", but rather the dressiest/classiest version of myself. My dress was accessorized just with a pearl necklace (made by my mom) and a fancy-ish, curly hairstyle.
|Photo by Stephanie Kaloi|
How did/will you handle this tradition?
I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!
Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.