Tradition of the Veil

Are you planning on wearing a veil to your wedding ceremony?  I often like the soft romantic look that it gives to a bride.

Just as we are discovering with some other wedding traditions, the tradition of wearing a veil has a less than romantic birth.  It is believed that the origin of the tradition dates back to Roman days when the bride would wear a full-length veil that was also used as her burial shroud.   I read that veils had color once, Roman veils were red and  in Greek, yellow.  Also, Roman beliefs were that wearing a veil would throw off the evil spirits that were potentially stalking the bride.  It seems that these spirits were envious of the couples happiness and the veil/disguise tricked them. So easily fooled!  So, for Roman’s the veil was certainly dual purpose.   We can also look to the days when capturing a bride was all the rage…the veil is a reminder of the act of the groom, or should I say abductor throwing a sack over the prospective bride’s noggin and then carrying her off to her wedding.  I think these theories seem to conflict, back in Roman days, the spirits were jealous of the bridal couple’s happiness, and then what, marriage evolved to kidnappings and then business arrangements, and then back to the modern days of marrying for love?  More research may be required on this subject.

Other traditions hold that a woman wore a veil because the groom in the arranged marriage wasn’t to see the bride until the marriage was official; this was done so that the groom wouldn’t back out based on her appearance.  A nice invention after all, it lets the couple focus on the business deal at hand!

Modern day veils.  According to OurMarriage.com “Veils came into vogue in the United States when Nelly Curtis wore a veil at her wedding to George Washington’s aid, Major Lawrence Lewis.  Major Lewis saw his bride to be standing behind a filmy curtain and commented to her how beautiful she appeared.  She then decided to veil herself for their ceremony.”   She was a trend setter here in the U.S.

There are themes of the bride’s veil demonstrating the male dominance over the woman, a willingness for the wife to obey her husband.  Huh?  My guess is that historically (but more recent history, not ancient),  society looked at the history of kidnappings, arranged marriages etc., and when wearing a veil you  were acknowledging the man as the dominant one in the situation’.  But wait, didn’t I wear a veil because I liked the finishing touch that it offered to my ensemble?  Maybe I liked the romantic, soft look that it gave to my face!  But, I digress.  Again OurMarriage.com states that; “The lifting of the veil (by the groom) at the end of the ceremony symbolizes male dominance.  If the bride takes the initiative in lifting it, thereby presenting herself to him, she is showing more independence. ”  So, with this bold act of the bride lifting her own veil, are we are seeing the birth of ending misogamy? …the birth of the women’s right act?

Are we women throwing aside the symbolic submission in a marriage, i.e., the veil, by not wearing a veil to our weddings?  Are we wearing a veil to say “hey, I think this makes me look pretty and romantic; and, I may do your laundry from time to time, but don’t ask me to obey you!  Honestly, when I got married, I did not know the history behind this tradition, I just thought the veil looked cool.


One thought on “Tradition of the Veil”

  1. That was interesting. Thanks for posting it! Are you familiar with the money dance? Have you witnessed it much with your clients? My fiance’s family does it as a tradition, and I am not sure how I feel about it. Any chance you will blog about that tradition?

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