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Accessories | Manolo for the Brides - Part 3
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Tulle Death Do Us Part

(illustration via Antique Lace Heirlooms)

The wedding veil.

Of all the bride’s possible accessories, this one is probably the single most controversial. To some, a woman is simply not a bride without one. To others it’s a symbol of virginity, lost to those who have sowed a wild oat or two before settling down and getting married. To yet others it’s a vicious reminder of the legal inequalities that for centuries kept women second-class citizens with no rights to their own property – or even their own children – until enough rabble rousers of both sexes managed to get women the vote and other legal protections.

Me? I just never liked wearing one. I had to in a couple plays I was in over the years, and I found the experience annoying. When I was planning my wedding, I knew from day one that there was no way in a million years of llama stampedes that I was putting one on my head again, if the choice was up to me.

Historically, the veil did start out as a specific requirement of all brides. In ancient Rome, it didn’t matter whether or not you were a virgin: if you were getting married, you wore a flame-colored veil. Period. First marriage or fifteenth, you wore it. Like another color better? Tough. It was flame-colored.

Over the centuries, though, this changed. Bridal headgear tended to be either a festive ring of flowers or else a version of whatever the currently accepted headgear of women in that area during that time. Brides wore hennins, gabled hoods, strands of jewels, or hats depending on when and where they were getting married.

And then at the very end of the eighteenth century, a world-wide mania for classical Greek and Roman styles hit everything from Architecture to women’s fashions. The veil was back for everyday wear. Soon it began being used for brides – in particular first time brides – again. And this is where things get odd.

Eventually fashions morphed into less and less classical styles and into the start of the Victorian sillhouette with the nipped in waist and very full skirt. The veil was replaced by fussy bonnets… but many first-time brides continued to wear veils. The bridal veil is the fashion version, in many ways, of an insect trapped in amber.

Whatever your personal feelings about the veil, it’s okay. Wear it. Don’t wear it. It doesn’t determine whether or not you’re a virgin or a tool of the patriarchy. You’re just as married whether or not you put a piece of lace and tulle on your head. The only way it really matters is whether you choose what makes you happy.

Greenery is a Bride’s Best Friend

Ah, the wedding bouquet! That amazing froth of flowers! How beautiful! How charming! How… expensive.

Over the years, pretty much every wedding planning book, magazine, blog, and zine I’ve ever read has suggested using more filler and less flowers to save a couple bucks on this major accessory… but how about we just cut out the flowers altogether?

(Illustration via The Wedding Talk Blog)
Gorgeous, isn’t that? All those delicious herbs! Dry it and use the results in cooking for months to come. Talk about savings plus repurposing!

La Vie Boheme

I love a good accessory as much as the next woman. More than some. And I find myself wildly drawn to the work found at Lo Behome, a designer of fabulous flights of bridal fancy like the Cleo Fascinator, shown here. It can be worn in a variety of ways and attaches to your updo of choice with alligator clips.

But wait, there are other great accessories at Lo Boheme!

Put Your Best Foot Forward

(Image via Scotimages)
Let’s talk for a moment about feet, shall we?

The simple fact is that on your wedding day, you’re likely to spend a lot of time on your tootsies. Standing around in your wedding finery trying not to let anything get wrinkled, walking up the aisle, the receiving line or table hopping to greet guests, dancing, and so on and so forth… chances are at some point your feet are going to get mighty tired.

And while I can hear plenty of brides to be chorusing ‘no problem, I’ll have flip flops!’ I happen to think there are a plethora of better ideas for foot happiness that would not make the Manolo weep into his favorite pair of peeptoes. Hey, it’s your wedding and I can’t stop you, but I can offer alternatives to consider.

Why a Pillow? You’re Not Napping

If you’re having your rings carried up to the altar by a ring bearer, chances are you expect that tad to carry some sort of lacy, white pillow. After all, that’s what the kid does, traditionally.

But what if you’re not married to the pillow idea? There are other ways of having the ring make it up front and center.

You could put it in a bird’s nest:

What could be better for a rustic wedding of two ornithologists? Or, you know, two people who just have a thing for bird’s nests.

And that’s not the only alternative idea going for ring pillows.

A Cheap and Easy to Find Cake Topper for the Casual-ish Wedding

Did you know that I made my mom’s wedding cake? Well I did. And though it most definitely looked like a homemade wedding cake I was pretty proud of it. When it came time to choose a wedding cake topper, I was stumped. My mom and her then girlfriend now wife are extremely classy people so popping two plastic brides on their cake and calling it a day was not going to cut the mustard. Oh, did I mention that I was also their wedding planner? Eventually, since theirs was going to be a semi-formal backyard affair with lots of fun little rustic touches, I settled on custom spoon garden markers from Monkeys Always Look.

(I am still waiting for copies of my mom's wedding photos, hint hint!)

Turned out, they were just right for a backyard semi-formal faux rustic wedding that was only attended by 10 people and involved a dinner reception at a restaurant in Salem, MA in October. With cake first, of course. And the brides loved them – I’d been almost hoping to score one as a keepsake for me, but there were two spoons and two brides so what can you do, right?

Also from Monkeys Always Look!

And another, from Etsy seller jessicaNdesigns

There is definitely no shortage of people stamping spoons out there, and since the spoons are usually thrifted or vintage or found silverware, you’re going to spend a lot less on a wedding cake topper made of spoons than you will on most other cake toppers. Are you having a semi-formal faux rustic backyard wedding? Would spoons work for you, do you think?

Reader Mailbag: Toni Wants Veil Help!

The amazing and fabulous Toni, who you’ll all remember is currently planning her nuptials, wrote in to ask:

I’m having the hardest time finding a veil for my wedding. I like the one that they had me try on with my dress but I don’t want anything covering my face, and I think I might want something smidge softer. In other words, maybe made out of regular tulle, not that netting, though that might be too tricky to find. I would want some sort of flower or decorative doohicky on one side. I simply can’t wrap my head around paying $50+ for $1 worth of tulle.

Yes, I suppose I could make my own, and I am a crafty person, but I have yet to find a decent crafts store up here in Arlington (I used to live right next to a Jo-Ann’s SuperStore, sob!) and plus my life is crazy right now. (3-month engagement to wedding timeline, fiance’s kids are moving in with us for the summer starting this weekend, and I am in charge of a big event at work that’s happening the week after the wedding.) That said, if you know of an easy step-by-step tutorial, I might be willing to give it a try.

I did try to cut up my waist-length veil from my first wedding, but that didn’t work so well. Oh, and I know the “not covering my face” part has more to do with how I wear the veil than the veil itself. Basically, I just want a hint of tulle referencing a veil without actually being a VEIL or all up in my face. So, in a nutshell…

1. Should I be searching for any terms other than “birdcage veil?”
2. Do they exist at a reasonable price? Or should I just suck it up and spend the $50?
3. Should I just make it myself?

Well, Toni (and everyone else reading this), I have also balked at the notion of spending umteenbajillianty dollars on what adds up to a dollars’ worth of netting. There are artful and interesting bridal veils out there that I believe are absolutely worth the money, but I also believe that there are plenty more that can be replicated at home by anyone with even the smallest aptitude for the crafty arts. And since you’re open to the idea of DIYing a veil – and a naturally talented soul – let’s take a look at that option first.

The simplest possible DIY bridal veil?

I found a great DIY bridal veil tutorial at CraftStylish that will walk you through making a very simple, custom-length veil. I’d wager you could easily modify the tutorial to be quite short, so you’re only, as you put it, referencing the veil. And the simplicity of the design makes it easy to add the sort of embellishments that seem most appropriate. The comb ensures you can place your DIY bridal veil and have it very much NOT hanging down in front of your face. Only drawback? The tutorial suggests rolling the hem with a serger. Satin bias tape to the rescue?

Jane from Sara Gabriel veils

I’m picturing something like the Jane veil, except a bit shorter and with a little something more going on in the embellishment department. And heck, it has raw edges so you don’t need the bias tape or the serger!

For more embellishment, try this!

As for what kind of “flower or decorative doohicky” you’re thinking about, the sky is the limit. CraftStylish also has a pretty easy DIY veil tutorial – this time a fascinator – that features feathers, buttons, and some little wirey beady things that you could take or leave depending on your preference. Too much? Only you can say, but it certainly offers a satisfying amount of decorating in the doohicky department! Find the tutorial here.

But three months is one helluva short engagement, so maybe you don’t want to be futzing around making DIY bridal veils but you also don’t want to spend the above mentioned figure of umteenbajillianty on a veil, which is why in the end I suggest looking at Etsy for a seller who has something close to what you’re looking for and is willing to do a relatively fast custom order. In high quality bridal tulle, of course.

As to your specific questions, here are my answers: 1. I’d try short veils, simple veils, tulle veils, etc. in Google image search just to see what comes
up. 2. Like I said, Etsy! So many veils cost way too much – I’d try DIYing it before spending $50 if you’re not OMG VEILS VEILS like some brides
are. Not that there’s anything wrong with loving them or hating them. 3. Doesn’t hurt to try!

And perhaps, now that this is posted here, my fantastic readership can weigh in. Know any uber fab sources for short and sweet bridal veils that are reasonably priced for the bride who wants a veil, but would rather put those extra few hundred dollars into the cake budget? How about excellent DIY bridal veil tutorials?

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