A Practical Wedding: Things To Wear On Your Head When You Wed

I’ve been having a hard time figuring out what I want to wear on my head as a bride. I mean, really, it shocks me that it’s such a complicated decision. For my post, I was going to give you a list of all the hot indie places to get cool stylish veil alternatives (I’m looking at you, Bando) but thankfully Peonie has done all that and more. Instead, I’m going to give you the story of my search so far.

I’m a bit of a indie bride, so naturally, I’m drawn to hip and funky hairpieces. Like Miss Ten Thousand Only, I’m in love with this magical bit of feathers and netting by Sara Gabriel:
For similar reasons, I also love Christine’s, of Pretty.Pretty.Paper, rocking custom veil by Leah C. Give me some netting and some flowers and I’m a happy girl. (and how HOT is she in this picture?)
Remember Kara’s amazing pouf that everyone loved? It signals Bridal! Veil! While also saying ‘I’m stylish, I’m myself, I’m doing my own thing.’ It’s also by Sara Gabriel, who’s clearly got it going on. I love all of these headpieces. So why is it not that simple? Well. The veil is actually a important concept in Jewish weddings. The old-school Jewish wedding had a veiling ceremony – the groom would veil the bride before the walk down the aisle, to make sure he knew who he was marrying. These days, in progressive/feminist Judaism, that bit of tradition has been scrapped, and then reinvented. These days, there is a new-school egalitarian ritual where the bride puts a kippah (yarmulke) on the grooms head, and the groom puts on the brides veil – in a private moment before walking down the aisle . The ceremony is a way to ground yourselves in each other, alone, before the you get to the bit with the crowd. It’s a way to say privately before it all begins – I see you for who exactly who you are, without all the fancy trappings, and I choose you.

And that’s not even the half of it. It turns out, the veil has mystical significance as well. There is an old Jewish mystical tradition that says when a bride wears a veil walking down the aisle, the veil connects her to the future, so that when she walks to the huppah, all her children and grandchildren to the end of time walk with her.


Now, seriously, how am I going to pass that up?

So the search is on. I want to find a slightly more traditional veil, one that I can wear across my face, that still holds true to my indie, etsy, feather loving roots. And you know, since we’re making the dress, we’ll be making the veil. Thus far, I’ve found these small bits of inspiration:
This bride (from an old MSW) helped inspire me to go with a short handmade dress. I like her veil too. It’s got a 1950’s simplicity about it, which I dig, and would go with my dress. It was my very first plan for a veil. The only problem is, I think it’s actually a little more traditional then I am.
This photo (via Oh So Beautiful Paper by Melissa Murphy) Makes me want to have piles of tulle blowing in the wind. My sister always says “Sadly, you can’t wear a good veil anywhere these days, not even in mourning. So you might as well wear it to your own wedding.” Good point, that. Makes you want to go with a full out veil like this, because to heck with it, it’s your one chance. But when you get down to it, is it for me? I’m wearing a short dress because I don’t want anything getting in my way, so I’d never pull this off.
Thus far, this is the closest I’ve come to finding a veil that is, yup, tulle, but still feels indie, personal, and like something I could make feel like me. This is from a beautiful Jewish wedding that was featured in MSW years ago, and has served an inspiration to us on many fronts. Above you see the bride is signing the Ketubah.
And here she is walking down
the aisle. Her veil is short, it’s sassy. It says “Bite me. I’m a feminist and I’m wearing a veil,” which is more or less the look I’m going for. And it is eminently, eminently make-able.

Now, if I can just figure out a way to work in some feathers (and maybe some porcupine quills) we might be getting close.

(Tales from your veil or not to veil quandary’s welcome in the comments. Because darn it, this must be a hard and loaded decision for someone other then me.)

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  • Ohmygoodness thank you so much for having this series! Having my hair in a short bob, I’ve been arguing with myself about how to do veils. (no bun to stick it into!) But the idea of a feather and tulle fascinator is growing on me. I really want to ask the Groom-to-Be what he sees on my head… not only could it possibly be helpful, but it will definitely be enlightening

  • I’m going to wear fresh orchids– dendrobiums to be exact– in my hair. I’ve flirted with the idea of a birdcage veil but I feel like it’s getting a little played out. If I were getting married during the day, I’d totally wear a hat.

    I am not a fan of the veil’s symbolism at all. (My fiancĂŠ and I are not religious but we grew up in Catholic/Christian homes.) So it’s not for me.

  • last veil = perfection.

    i had no idea about the symbolism of the veil and kinda wish i did. it really tickles my fancy.

  • All these gorgeous women rocking the pouf are making me smile this morning. Thanks for posting about the veil tradition. As someone who struggled with the not-so-positive history of the veil, I love hearing such a beautiful outlook on it.

  • Why don’t you have both? A veil for the ceremony (tadition’s sake), then a fabulous hairpiece for the party?

  • Corrine

    This post could have come from my own mouth! I am an independent, etsy inspired bride to be, who hates fuss but as your sister said- when can you really wear a veil except at your wedding.

    I like the vintage inspired veils because they say funk and fashion.

    This made my day :”Bite me. I’m a feminist and I’m wearing a veil”

    Yeah me too, a long, flowing, traditional fine gauze, crystal edged veil (with a feather flower)!

  • This series has been the best. I’m in veil quandary mostly because my dress has a high neck halter with a group of flowers at my neck. I feel like any more flowers up around my face will just overwhelm my head and I’ll disappear. So, I’m considering no lace or tulle or netting, and just some flowers on a clip in my hair, on the back.

  • Are you just trying to make us all weep at out little deskies?! Zowie, Meg.

    Love: Feminist, veil, bite me; connection with future; “I see you for who you are.”

  • Definite veil quandry! I’d come to a “pretty sure no traditional veil” place before this series, but after seeing all the pics, I think I’m definitely loving the look of a vintage hat with a small veil, or fascinator with small veil. Not exactly a birdcage — something more along the “does that fall into the hat or birdcage territory?” that Peonie talked about yesterday. Just because it’s fun and vintage. Now I just have to decide which one!

  • that last one is BEYOND. do it. prove it. pretty please.

  • I don’t really want to wear a veil as I’m planning a hairpiece and an elaborate back to my dress I don’t want to obscure BUT I love love love the wedding photos with a veil floating around, so plan on make a veil to attatch to my heaad for just the photos.

  • Fascinating post, I love when you write about the Jewish traditions.

    Don’t forget the veil for the ceremony/ funky hairpiece for later option.

    I loved your sister’s point about veils – so true. And “Bite me. I’m a feminist and I’m wearing a veil” – YES!

  • … You make me want to wear a veil for, seriously, the first time ever.

    At the very least I want to figure out a way to do the generations-walking-with-you thing, with or without the froth of tulle. I suppose it’s all in the way you think of it… I could do ribbons and in my mind it’d have the same effect…

    Beautiful post. I love your reflections on the meanings of traditions.

  • m

    Love this post. I’m also a bob-hair bride trying to figure out what to wear. I think the hardest decision will be narrowing down the feather/fascinators! But I love your bit about the short veil at the end. Great post. Thanks for the insight!

  • Wow, thank you SO much for this post! The Sarah Gabriel veil is EXACTLY what I’ve been wanting. This put a huge smile on my face. :)

  • Anonymous

    I love the look of stylish, poofy veils, but I just don’t have the chutzpah to pull it off. I tried one lovely, poofy tulle confection and ended up looking like an overdressed, slightly confused bee-keeper. =/ Not quite the effect I wanted.

    Have fun deciding! The feathery fascinators are also very glam!

  • Ironically, sometimes coming back around to tradition – and rocking it – is the most badass.

    And you will rock it.

  • thank you so much for sharing the symbolism of veils in the Jewish tradition. so meaningful and touching!

  • what a brilliant series!! there are some great ideas there. I only wish I were to talented and could create something myself! The girl that I bought my dress off threw in the veil for free (nice huh?) and its shoulderblade length with wee pearls all over. My friend and I are toying with ways to alter it to include some big sil flowers, just to give it a little something different. Thanks for the series and the lovely post on the significance of the veil!

  • I was having EXACTLY the same dilemma. Oddly, I never gave two thoughts to the veil, until my sister offered to make it, and my future mother in law explained the (Jewish) significance of it. So, while the hats and fascinators and flowers are gorgeous, I think I might just be going with something more traditional, which initially felt like admitting defeat, in some small silly way.

    Until I found this!

    (Ack, I’m actually not sure how to post this, but I’ll try and email it).

  • I love the tea length dress! Hmmm… maybe because I wore one myself?

  • You’re such a cutie. I love all the headpieces and veils–I bet you come up with something great.

  • I knew I was gonna veil it up because the Big Guy and I want to to the whole veiling bit but now that I know that it has even more significance in the Jewish tradition, I am that much more excited! And you put it so beautifully!

  • Blue12rain

    I’m wearing a little ivory fabric flower in my hair and I’m trying to decide if a super simple veil tucked underneath my up-do would be too much. It’s a thin line.
    Thanks for all the great suggestions. When you aren’t the typical bride it’s hard to find that balance between your own style and the big day traditions.

  • I’m having the exact same dilemma! At first, I was all about the birdcage, but my mother and my fiance _hate_ it…. so scratch that.
    These days I’m thinking of something fuller and even a bit puffy, if you will. I love the photos you included from the Jewish ceremony.

  • miche!!e

    my former roommate called veils “Wedding burkhas”. That’s all I can think about when I see a veil; that and being stricken with guilt for thinking they’re so pretty.

  • i’m doing a cathedral-length veil for the ceremony and switching to a birdcage veil for the reception. looking forward to it for sure because both will be handmade as gifts from two family members…homemade with love is my goal in the wedding and i’m so happy to have friends and family who are okay with supporting that decision.

  • Desaray

    I cannot wait to pour over these entries this weekend. Very timely in the world of Dingmoonment :)

  • I’ve definitely decided on a feather fascinator to wear in my hair but the veil decision really is a dilemma. I really love birdcage veils and the vintage feel they lend, because I think my gown has a 1940’s old Hollywood feel to it. But then whenever I see beautiful photos of long veils like the one you posted I change my mind again. I would love to have photos of a floor length veil billowing in the wind. And then Miss Practical (in my head) says “But you’ll spend all day stepping on it and it will just annoy the hell outta you!” And then I come back to the birdcage. Plus, I don’t think birdcages are quite as popular in the Midwest, so it would probably be more unexpected on me than a long veil.

  • I’ve got the same dilemna. I will anyway have small flowers in my hair (dendrobium orchids too probably) but I’m still wondering about a long, traditionnal veil. My mother and aunt (making my dress) think more about a birdcage but I’m not sure about that option (should try one on).
    Guess I’m going to buy some silk tulle anyway (beacause the only veils I like are silk, bridal illusion is too poofy for me, but ready made silk tulle veils are soooo expensive…) and see if I’m making one… or not ;-).

  • One Love Photo

    Loving all this what wear on your head business. How will one ever choose??

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    A gorgeous post Meg. I had no idea about the Jewish traditions involving veils, they’re beautiful and I see entirely why you would want to wear one.

    And HOW did I never hear about Sara Gabriel when I was trying to decide what to wear on my head when I wed? Her poufy whatsits are divine.

  • I too have short hair in a bob and could not decide on a style so I’m doing two different veils. I am doing a very simple elegant drop veil (no poof) with the romantic blusher first kiss moment and then for the reception I’m totally switching gears to party and am going to wear a french net cage veil over one eye with a flower and feathers. BOTH fit my personality.

  • I love your description of how the veil is important in Jewish tradition. Beautiful!

    I’m making my own veil AND fascinator. It can’t be that hard, right? I am determined to have a bit of feather!

  • Thank you for articulating the bizarro conversation I’ve been having with myself the last month or so (“Bite me. I’m a feminist and I’m wearing a veil.” ha!). The current plan for my August wedding is a birdcage veil from http://www.somethingbold.com. It’s in the mail as we speak.