As I was going through some old pictures, of some family members who I don’t know, I came across some very old style wedding dresses and veils. The thing I found rather odd is that while the dress seemed overly simple, the veil and especially the head piece were overly elaborate. It almost seemed to me that what cost they didn’t put into the dress, they instead put into the head piece.
When my girls got married, the wedding dress was the biggest part of the wedding planning. The veil carried a close second to that, but the dress was really what you noticed. Pearls and sequines, and satin and lace were the bling of choice. The head piece was floral, but not nearly as big as the ones from years gone by.
I have begun to wonder about the history of wedding attire, so I did a little research on it. I found that in the early 1800’s, Weddings were very simple. The dress was often just their best dress, and believe it or not, was often black, because that best dress also doubled as a funeral dress. The other thing about that dress was that it was not kept in pristeen condition, but rather, it went back to normal use right after the wedding.
The white wedding dress was not the normal attire until 1840, when the newly crowned Queen Victoria of Great Britain wed Prince Albert. Unlike the monarch before her, Victoria chose to be married in a splendid, white satin gown. In reaction, young women in England and America, fascinated by the newly married queen’s style, immediately began insisting on white wedding dresses of their own. A new style was born. Our fascination with royalty seems to affect style quite often. Personally, I like this style change, because I think a woman looks beautiful in a white wedding dress. Of course, I have also seen beautiful brides in other colors or in embellished white dresses too. I’m sure the joy of the day plays a huge part in the beauty of the bride.
The symbolism of the bridal veil is as varied as the culture it comes from, ranging from protection from wind and sun, to warding off evil spirits. The most common is to symbolize modesty and purity, indicating that only virgins should wear them, but that is probably not followed much these days. The one I like best is that the veil is lifted by the husband to symbolize his acceptance of his bride…like accepting a gift. He unwraps his bride as he takes her as his own. Of course, with women’s lib came equal rights, so many women lift their own veil to symbolize their equality. As for me, I personally like the idea of the groom unwrapping his bride like a gift, for that is really what she is to him, as he is to her. The gift of love.