copyright Rachel Sanfordlyn Shreckengast of WedFrugal.com
The tradition of the wedding veil is interesting to examine because there are so many different (and sometimes opposite) ideas of how the tradition of the veil got it‘s start. It’s not unusual to find pick and choose wedding traditions as nearly all of them have more than one possible start.
In the case of the veil, it probably got its start in Ancient Greece or Rome, but it’s likely that the tradition changed through the ages to represent the opinions and practices of that particular time. Which leads me to make the point that traditions do change with time. Today, the veil simply means joy and/or happiness.
Theory #1: In ancient (Rome, Greece) times, the veil signified a woman’s subordination to her husband. Another theory from these times is that a Roman woman wore a veil which covered her from head to toe, in order to protect her from the nether world (along the lines of evil spirits).
Theory #2: Comes from the practice of throwing a blanket over a woman’s face as a man captured her for his bride.
Theory#3: If you read the Bible, you'll have an idea of where this tradition may have gotten its start. The veil, commonly a blusher, is lifted to make sure the groom is marrying the correct person. The groom lifted the veil in order to insure that he was getting what he (literally) bargained for.
Theory #4: The veil was worn to protect the bride from evil spirits on her wedding day. If they couldn’t see her, they couldn’t destroy her wedding day. Along the same vein, in some cultures it was worn to ward off the evil eye.
Theory #5: As a result of arraigned marriages, a bride’s face was covered during her wedding. Her face was only uncovered after the ceremony was over. A form of protection for the bride if the groom didn’t like the way she looked.
Theory #6: In some traditions, the veil is a symbol of purity. Not virginity, but purity...big difference. It has also stood for modesty, privacy and innocence.
Theory #7: It was a symbol that showed transfer of ownership. Once a groom lifted the veil, ownership of the bride was transferred from her father to him.
Theory #8: Anglo-Saxons used to hold a canopy above the bride’s head in order to hide her blushes. Another theory along the same vein is that Anglo-Saxons held a canopy over the bride’s head as she was traveling to meet her husband. Also Anglo-Saxon in origin is the idea that the bride wore an opaque yellow veil that completely covered her while she was traveling to meet her groom. The groom “unveiled” her on the wedding night.
Theory #9: During the Dark Ages, blue veils came to mean virginity because Mary (as in Mary, mother of Christ) wore a blue head-covering and had a virgin birth. The veil as a symbol of virginity had a fairly short revival in the 1950’s, but now symbolizes joy and happiness.
p.s. - I do not do interviews regarding wedding traditions as in many cases, they are theory and conjecture. Thank you for your understanding.