Reminiscent of the famous words from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, “To be or not to be”, we will explore the quandary:
To wear a veil or not to wear a veil.
Diverse brides from different cultures and backgrounds have asked this question numerous times, ‘should I wear a veil’?
Veils were not commonly worn until the 19th century when Queen Victoria wore a veil on her wedding day in 1840 when she married Prince Albert. Since the 19th century, veils have been a trend at weddings.
To answer this question, let us start with a brief exploration of the different types of veils there are.
There are nine to ten veil types which are:
- Bird Cage: This covers the face of the bride up to the nose.
- Shoulder: This covers the face and shoulders of the bride.
- Elbow: This covers the bride up to the elbows.
- Blusher: This covers the bride and ends just past the elbows
- Fingertip: This flows down to the fingertips
- Knee Length: This flows down the length of the dress up to the knees.
- Waltz: This flows down the length of the dress up to the ankles.
- Floor/Chapel Length: This flows down the entire length of the dress
- Cathedral: This flows out behind/ around the bride
If you are interested in learning more about veils, click here.
So, how do you decide whether to wear a veil or not? It might help to look at the history behind both practices.
Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe. These are modern-day continents and countries with deep histories that tie them all together. One such history is the practice of wearing veils. A veil was regarded as a piece of clothing or hanging cloth that was used to cover the face or an object of great significance. During the Mesopotamian and Persian empires, women of high repute who had elite status in society, wore veils to cover their heads.
From early centuries, men and women in the Middle East and Northern Africa, wore veils to keep the sun and sand from their eyes. In Eastern and Western Africa, veils were used to hide the face of royal women in order to embolden tales of their beauty. Western culture adopted veils as a signal of social elite status and for religious practice. By the 17th and 18th centuries, veils were occasionally worn in common settings. The practise of wearing veils in Europe is believed to date back to Rome where brides would wear a veil over their heads to keep evil spirits and “bad omens” away from them as they walked down the aisle on their wedding day.
Queen Victoria’s wedding was a catalyst that inspired the practice of wearing veils at weddings by the masses. A veil was believed to represent innocence and purity. This practice was largely adopted in Judeo-Christian culture, as a woman’s purity was important to the family and community at large. In the modern-day, veils have now become statement pieces that brides incorporate into their overall wedding look. Veils range in colour, style, and size (↑ read about different types of veils above), with which each bride makes her unique statement. Now to look at the other side of our question.
There really isn’t much to say here other than some brides choose not to wear veils. Be it due to personal beliefs, tradition, or a specific look being the goal for the wedding day; some brides choose not to wear a veil.
Whether you decide to wear a veil or not, there are other ways you can make a statement on your day. You can wear a special headpiece, adorn a cape, have a long train, or even add your favourite fashion item (brooch, scarf, belt, jacket, etc.) to your outfit.
To wear a veil or not to wear a veil? Like Hamlet, the choice is yours to make.