Friday, April 19, 2024

Behind the veil

Sunny days, perfect for the wedding season, are here again. And brides are going crazy, trying to find the perfect gown.

When they finally put together the ideal outfit for what is deemed the happiest day of her life, there is one item she makes sure comes with the package. No not the garter ÔÇô not all of us quite get that part yet. Rather, the veil.

What does the veil symbolize?

Different cultures have different reasons for why brides wear the veil, but the one reason that stands out from the mists of history is that the veil symbolises the bride’s purity.

Not so much her good heart or the white dress she is wearing looking like an angel, but a bride with a veil over her face meant that her hymen was intact.

Christians started wearing veils in the 19th century, using it as a “purity” symbol. The veil emphasised the couple’s state of purity with which they enter the marriage. A bride who was marrying for the second time (or third) or one who had a child or is not “pure” was expected to marry with no veil or with the veil not covering her face.

But these days, the initial significance of the veil does not seem to matter.

Historically veils were frowned upon for widows and women marrying for the second or third time. Today, you might even be frowned at for having a veil. Your wedding dress is considered incomplete without a veil.

Imagine if that was still the case today, in a world where the majority of couples marrying have been intimate before they even decide to walk down the aisle. Not many brides would be veiled up.

Back then, the symbol made sense because weddings and marriages were between people who had not been living together and it was strongly believed and respected that there shall be no conjugal relations until one was married.

This however makes one wonder if men also held on to their “purity” for their wife, given the notion that a man cannot go for a long time without sex. But that is a topic for another day.

Traditionally veils were white, symbolising the chastity of a bride.

When the father (father-figure) presents the bride to the groom he lifts the veil to officially give away his daughter, or the groom after being officially pronounced husband and wife lifts the veil to finally “meet” his wife symbolizing consummating the marriage and also giving him permission to be intimate with this woman.

The lifting of the veil may be ceremonially recognized as the crowning event of the wedding, when the beauty of the bride is finally revealed to the groom and the guests.

Some say that the veil was used in the past as a symbol of a bride’s submission and willingness to obey her husband. These days, many brides lift their own veil, which is sometimes seen as presenting themselves as equals.

To the modern bride, wearing a bridal veil signifies a special joyful event, accentuates the bride’s appearance and to some (between the bride and groom) has that naughtiness to it ÔÇô when something is prohibited or difficult to have, it often seems more attractive and thrilling.

Today’s bride can choose to wear a veil regardless of previous marriages or the status of her virginity. Wearing a veil has become a matter of choice and the meaning of the veil is not associated with folklore, spiritual beliefs or symbolic of virginity.

This is why many brides, regardless of their religion, have automatically assumed the bridal gown will never be complete without this item. It is said a veil depicts dignity, honor and submission.

These reasons have evolved from the most influential culture and historical faith around the globe.

So brides-to-be, when you don that accessory as a final crowning touch to transform your bridal gowns, maybe you should think about what it means to YOU. It does not have to be a life and death decision. Maybe it is just an accessory to your gorgeous dress, or you just sticking to the conventional attire as it has been tradition since veils have been used in weddings by women for many centuries, preserving your beauty until he is officially your husband or maybe it signifies dignity and your submission to your husband.

What is your reason? After all everything has some sort of meaning to everyone.


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