When I first cut my hair short seven-ish years ago, I was not thinking imminently about getting married. So it was surprising that my first thought when my hairdresser turned me around to see myself in the mirror after chopping off eight inches was that, someday, this haircut was going to look slamming in a short veil. Going into actually planning our wedding, I had no idea what kind of ring I wanted, I didn’t really know what sort of wedding dress I was going to wear, but whatever I ended up with was going to go with my sweet birdcage veil, that much was decided.
A perfect option presented itself in the spring when a family friend offered up a never worn hand-me-down. It was a cute little cream colored veil made out of two layers of soft, ivory tulle and a short comb. And since it was free, and I didn’t have to go shopping for it, it was all of my favorite things. I was visiting my family in California at the time, and as soon as it got dropped off, my sister snatched it up, and ran into the bathroom to put the veil on, in order to show me “how it was done.” Thirty minutes later, she’d moved on in frustration to trying to put the veil on me, with the same limited success. It was too long, or too soft, or too heavy, but whatever it was, it wasn’t working. I took it back to Denver with me, vowing to find a way to make it work—after all, this was a free veil, and I am a semi professional crafty person. I would not be defeated.
In July, I went in for my final dress fitting, and the seamstress asked if I had picked out a veil yet. I told her that I had, but that it wasn’t quite finished yet (after all, holding my veil up to my head while hoping a magical change had occurred two or three days a week takes time). She mentioned casually that if I needed another option, then the shop also made custom veils. I thanked her for the information, and went back home to my hand-me-down veil—which would be perfect if it would just… fit. Or look good on me. Or something. And then, possibly because it was July, and I had a lot of other wedding crafts to make, or I just had other things I’d rather be doing, I called the seamstress back and inquired about the price of a custom veil. The gal told me that I’d have my beloved birdcage for fifty dollars, which was more money than free, but could be fairly comfortably accommodated by my discretionary income. I went ahead and made an appointment to meet with the designer the following week, and promised to bring “inspiration photos” and my fifty dollars.
In the middle of August, the shop called and said my veil was ready for fitting and pickup. I told them I’d be right over, and texted my mom and my sister to get ready for an onslaught of amazing veil shots. I dashed over to the shop and waited anxiously for the designer to situate the veil so I could check myself out. Finally, much like my original haircut, she turned me around to the mirror so I could realize my vision. Sadly, I looked like a drunk beekeeper. The veil was too long, lopsided, and mostly opaque. “Oooh!” the assistant said, “That is very Alexander McQueen.”
“Um,” I said.
The designer picked up where the assistant left off. “It will of course be different once your hairstylist pins it just the way you want it!” she enthused, while picking up the top layers of tulle and letting them fall, then tugging the veil closer to my face so that my nose smashed a little.
“Oh yes,” I said, trying to find a positive, “I’m sure it will look very different on the actual day.” I tilted my head up, trying to see through the thing, hoping that maybe it looked so bad, because I just… couldn’t see through it?
The designer was frustrated by my lack of an overjoyed response and finally snapped “Well, it looks exactly like the pictures you brought in,” she said. And first of all, no, it did not, and second of all, I thought perhaps a “custom” piece implied some feedback from me. “Maybe you just need to grow your hair out some,” she offered, as a final suggestion. I thanked her, snapped a couple selfies, boxed the veil back up and left, texting my mom and my sister the pictures as I went.
“Um…” my sister replied.
“Well, that’s nice, honey,” my mom followed.
“You know guys, if this doesn’t work, I’ll just get a hair clip,” I told them. “If the hair girl can’t fix it, I just won’t wear a veil, and that will be totally fine.” And I meant it. We’d tried. It didn’t work. I was moving on.
Later that night my mom texted me again. “I want you to go get a veil that makes you feel special.”
“I am not going to get a third veil, Mom.” I replied. “This is getting ridiculous. We are giving up on veils.”
“This is once in a lifetime,” my mom texted back “You will be perfect just the way you are, but I want you to feel special for your wedding. This is the one thing you knew you wanted. I want you to go look for another veil. I talked to your father and he agrees.”
I smiled. You know it’s serious when your momma has talked to your father. I thanked my mom for already making me feel special and loved, and told her I would try to go veil shopping soon.
Somehow, I ended up with a rare Friday off after a week where nothing had gone right. I was way over wedding planning, and work was killing me, but I’d promised my mom, so I went to one last hip bridal salon in an up and coming neighborhood. I didn’t have an appointment, and I was fully expecting to be turned away, but the salesgirl let me right in and I was the only customer in the store. She brought me over their three birdcage veils, and she was so nice I started telling her the whole story: how I’d gotten ripped off and our wedding was a week and a half away and she listened and commiserated patiently. The second veil I tried on was perfect. It was comfortable, and it didn’t smash my face, and when I looked at it, I had my first glimpse of wedding zen, because eleven days from that moment I would never, ever have to deal with veils again.
The gal offered to wrap it up for me, but I declined and I went ahead and wore that sucker to get myself a coffee, texting selfies to my mom taken in front of all the graffiti-covered walls on my way.