by Carla Hufstedler February 13, 2019
The wedding veil may be the oldest bridal accessory known. Some sources date it back to Ancient Rome. The Roman brides wore veils in order to protect themselves from evil spirits on the way to the wedding altar; sometimes, to up the ante, their veils were flame-colored, to fool the demons, one assumes, into thinking the bríde-to-be was evil herself. They fell out of favor, as many things do, as time passed, and over many centuries, until Queen Victoria’s wedding on February 10, 1840. Not only did the Queen bring back into fashion the bridal wearing of white (though, as we shared, that credit should fairly first go to Queen Philippa of Lancaster, but Victoria also brought back the veil. So, we know you want the Queenly deets. It was designed to match her dress with a deep lace flounce and lace trimmings, all handmade in Devon, England, deliberately done so to show support for England’s cottage industry for lace. (Just as shopping at Cassandra Lynne does the same for American-made bridal veils, capes, and jewelry.) The lace motifs were appliquéd onto cotton net, and this net was carefully hand-bordered with the lace flounce. Victoria chose to wear orange blossoms instead of a tiara to crown the top of her veil; in Victorian flower language, are a symbol of fertility. The veil, in total, was four yards in length, and .75 yards wide; that’s 12 feet long and over 2 feet wide. No information given on how much it weighed, but with all that cotton net, the flowers, the lace flounce, and the lace appliqués…we can only imagine. Both an etching and a portrait exist of Victoria’s wedding ensemble, posted below.
Various religious traditions exist for wearing a wedding veil. The general symbol for the veil across traditions is that of innocence and purity. If you as a bride choose to wear a veil for your special day, you can assign your own meaning to it: your day is about feeling your best self, whether it’s an innocent bride in white, joining with your husband for a lifetime of firsts; or a dramatic queen, pulling tulle and net and lace behind you to make a statement…or anything in between.
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