Bareheaded brides

I was browsing Manolo for the Big Girl just the other day when I came across this comment posted by one prowlcat:

ah yes! the poor taste in wearing bare-shouldered, backless, plunging-neckline wedding dresses in religious ceremonies. vera wang what have you wrought? also brides with crowns or tiaras. brides rejecting the veil, but keeping everything else. its all symbolism; borat will not put you in a sack and carry you away if you wear a veil. its traditional. dyed to match shoes, however, are not. and no flip flops at weddings, even in the jungle!

Now I do detest dyed-to-match shoes — though I’ll admit to fancying them when I was eight or so — and wedding flip flops, particularly the ones embellished with all manner of lace and rhinestones are indeed an abomination. But I can’t say I harbor any vitriol toward brides who choose to walk bareheadedly toward matrimonial bliss.

It was Vera Wang who said, “Other than the wedding ring, [the veil] is the most symbolic accessory a woman will ever wear.” I believe it was Never teh Bride (hey, that’s me!) who said, “Tradition be damned — honey, you’ll be just as married if you say ‘I do’ while wearing jeans and a bad case of bed head.”

Too cute, right?

There are as many reasons to ditch the headgear as there are to wear it proudly. I, for example, can’t stand having stuff in front of my face or flipping about my head, and thus find anything remotely veil-like entirely uncomfortable. Some brides don’t care for the potentially patriarchal origins of the veil tradition, whether or not it actually has its origins in bride-nappers tossing blankets over the heads of their prey or fathers tricking gullible young men into marrying the wrong sister. And I’m sure there are brides out there who think veils are just plain unattractive.

Veil pros:

  • Veils look great in photographs because they’re tres dramatic…especially long veils on windy days.
  • For most, it’s a once in a lifetime fashion choice. I mean, really now, how often is a gauzy, lacy veil really appropriate?
  • It’s not all about length — birdcage veils are awesome, as is evidenced in the above photo of a real bride wearing a veil from Something Bold!

Veil cons:

  • The longer ones are apt to blow around ridiculously on those dramatic windy days. Had I worn a veil, it would have stuck out at a 90 degree angle from my had for the whole of the wedding.
  • They can look kind of costume-y if done wrong, and finding one that is more than a cookie-cutter piece of netting isn’t always easy.
  • To some, the whole “lifting of the veil” thing is kind of creepy.

The choice, as always, is yours. If you’re not partial to veils, don’t let a few naysayers force you into wearing something you don’t care for just because “it’s tradition.” Veils (like just about everything else associated with weddings) have gone in and out of nuptial fashion over the years. Plenty of the wedding accoutrements we think of as traditional don’t really have the thousand-year-long history one might suppose. Believe me when I say that everyone is going to know you’re the bride, whether you top yourself with a veil or not.

(OT: FYI, you might want to head over and check out the newly revamped Bridesmaid Essentials. Right now, you can win a BCBG Max Azria handbag and a $100 gift card, just by submitting a 27-word account of how you’ve gone above and beyond the call of bridesmaid duty by midnight EST of March 31!)

15 Responses to “Bareheaded brides”

  1. C* says:

    I wore an heirloom Italian lace mantilla that my mother in law gave me. It was beautiful BUT I don’t like stuff in my face either and I’m not crazy about how the mantilla looked on me, so I folded 1/3 of the veil over to make it double layered and had it pinned just above my low bun. It looked great for the ceremony and pictures. I ditched it at the reception and wore a white Casablanca lily in my hair.

  2. Dianasaur says:

    I didn’t have a veil because it didn’t go with the Renaissance theme. My grandma was shocked and disappointed because she loves to embroider veils. But I did have a beautiful white silk chiffon cape that I wore as we were leaving. I made it after seeing this one

  3. Never teh Bride says:

    Sounds like you had a fab idea, C*. I would never have thought to fold a mantilla!

    That’s one beautiful cape, Dianasaur — hopefully your gram felt a bit better when she saw how great you looked.

  4. Twistie says:

    No veil for me. I’ve never cared much for them to begin with, and I didn’t feel one went at all with my picnic in the woods plans. Besides, I’d watched my sister in law get a gown and veil full of twigs, leafs, and assorted dirt at the same site. There was no way I was going to have anything that could get dragged in the dirt or filled with crap falling from the trees. It was a combination of aesthetics and practical considerations.

    Bit of a history lesson: the bridal veil dates back to a time when veils were common for pretty much all grown women. In ancient Rome, the bridal veil was flame colored. But as veils became less common for all women to wear, they died out for brides as well. Headcoverings matched whatever was fashionable at the time. The modern western wedding veil came into being at the beginning of the 19th century when neo-classical clothing became popular, based on ancient Greek and Roman statuary. Veils became a popular accessory for evening and formal events, so brides began wearing veils.

    This time, when veils went out of fashion for the average wealthy woman, they somehow stuck for brides as a symbol of virginity and extreme youth. Now they’re considered a symbol simply of a bride. It’s a popular and expected accessory, but it’s just an accessory. It’s as optional as a tiara or a garter.

    Dianasaur, that cloak is gorgeous! In fact, I loved a lot of things on that site. It makes me want to hold a Pre-Raphaelite reaffirmation ceremony so I have an excuse to get one of those fabulous gowns.

  5. Chiken says:

    I didn’t wear a veil either, for reasons similar to those Twistie listed — I got married outdoors at a ranch, and my whole look, including my tea length dress, was pretty casual. For some reason I did want something white on my head, though, so I pinned a white orchid in my hair. I think that it made me look more bride-y than going completely bare headed.

  6. While veils do look great in photos, whether or not to wear one is a personal choice. This is your wedding and you should enjoy no matter what tradition says.

  7. La Petite Acadienne says:

    As I mentioned on that particular thread, I went without a veil. We went away to get married, and it would have been just one more thing to worry about. As well, I do have pretty awesome hair, if I say so myself (mid-back-length red waves), and didn’t want to cover it up. I just bought a pretty little headband with crystals on it, as I wanted a little bit of something sparkly and pretty in there.

  8. Jennie says:

    Did anyone notice in the link that Dianasaur sent….SLEEVES! Almost all of them had sleeves!

  9. kate says:

    I did exactly what I wanted for my wedding. I chose a dress I never would have expected because I felt I looked great in it. I knew i wanted to wear my hear up/back, so i grew it out. I tried on a tiara and nearly threw up. I am no princess! I wore two small white orchids in the side of my bun, and wore red shoes to boot. Veils are fine if you don’t think you look like a person filling someone elses shoes. I could just never get used to it

  10. Leah says:

    I do like the little birdcage netting in the photo. I’ve entertained the notion of a small ceremony at city hall and spending all the “wedding” budget for the party. This idea would lend itself to a casual dress ceremony, and something like the “veil” above would be very casual, but special. It would go well with a pill box hat, which my friend Kristin says is a *necessity* if one is to have a city hall wedding. 🙂

  11. lyssa says:

    A friend of mine wore a beautiful elbow length lace mantilla for her wedding, with the tall spanish comb and all. It looked amazing, didn’t hang in her face or drag on the ground, and was perfect for the large Catholic church setting. I thought it was a great way to honor her heritage, show respect for the church she was getting married in (she wasn’t very religious, but the families were), and have that special bridal look.

  12. Shelley says:

    I’m choosing not to wear a veil from an aesthetic point of view. There were dresses I tried where really long dramatic veils felt appropriate. There were dresses I tried on where elbow-length veils felt appropriate. The dress I chose doesn’t look right with a veil, and the veil detracts from the overall effect of the dress. Since I have no reason to embrace the veil because of any religious or traditional standpoint, I think the aesthetic point of view is just as valid.

  13. colleen says:

    I’m not very attached to a veil from a traditional ‘bridal’ standpoint, but I’ll be wearing the veil my grandmother, mother, and older sister all wore at their weddings. Neither my sister nor I fit into my grandmother/mother’s wedding dress so it’s lovely to have that connection to the past. If that weren’t the case though, I might leave it off or go for one of those birdcage veils because my retro-loving heart thinks they are gorgeous!

  14. jj says:

    I didn’t wear one, but it was mostly because they just seem fussy to me, and none of them really seemed to go well with my modern, unstructured, bias cut gown. Instead I wore a headband with beaded flowers and a small cascade of feathers. It was lovely, and I got plenty of compliments.

  15. Olive says:

    I wore a tiny pillbox hat a la Jackie O, even though my mom wanted me to wear her heirloom veil. I’m not anti-veil, but ti just didn’t match my whole look, which was kind of vintage and kind of modern. To em, the veil was very old fashioned, though there are plenty of updated veils out there.