The Symbolic Wedding Veil

The symbol of the wedding veil has been permanently tied to a tradition that the bride and groom not see each other the day of the wedding. The tradition holds that it is bad luck. The symbol of the bride’s veil is actually part of the old traditions when marriages were prearranged, often before they were even born. The bride would be kept away from the groom for her entire life. On the day they were to be married, she would wear a veil so that her face is not revealed until after they have been legally declared as husband and wife. This is so the groom will not see the bride and possibly change his mind. While this custom was terribly degrading for the bride, it was not customary to tell women how beautiful they are and not buildup their esteem. It was just another form of repression in those cultures.

There is another culture in Eastern Europe that is steeped in the people’s superstitions. The people of old were terribly frightened of demons and evil spirits. It is said that these evil spirits would be jealous of a newly married couples attempt at happiness through marriage. Spirits cannot do what the living do and it makes them extremely angry. The bride would be veiled from the moment she arose on the day of her wedding. The veils back then were huge, billowy, and much thicker than today’s sheer fabrics. She would eat, dress, and do everything disguised under her veil so that evil spirits could not recognize her and torment her before she could be married. The veil was only lifted after they were married and therefore protected by her husband and by God.

The wedding veil was also said to be the funeral shroud. For this reason, a woman would make the veil before she was married. It was long enough to wrap her body in on the day of her death. This would prevent the evil spirits from recognizing her as she crossed from this world to the next. Women lived in great fear in those days and while this sounds morbid, a woman’s veil turned shroud was of great comfort to her. When I girl was old enough to sew, she would begin making her veil with the help of her mother or grandmother. By the time she was married, it would be long enough to serve both purposes.

Another symbol and tradition was that the wedding veil was supplied by the husband. It is what he used to capture is bride. The groom would pick the woman he wanted and sneak up on her, throwing the veil over her and carrying her away. She wore it until after she was married so that no one would recognize and attempt to rescue her.

The wedding veil and the wedding kiss are also tied together in symbolism. The wedding veil is pushed back after they are pronounced man and wife but in some places, this did not conclude the service. The bride and the groom had to then consent to a kiss before it was legal. Since the bride could not see her husband very well and in some cases, the husband never saw the bride until he lifted the veil, it was a moment of extreme anxiety as to whether they would both consent to the kiss. It was very often the happiest or saddest moment of the entire affair. The wedding gifts were often money in those days and the groom would be counting on the monetary gain. He would also be out any wedding accessories he would have had to purchase up to this point. That means that it was a more crucial moment for the groom than for anyone else.