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The Tradition and Significance of the Wedding Veil

Veils are long, elegant, and a classic element in bridal attire. Yet very few people know the significance or symbolic purpose of veils. Veils are traditionally worn to cover a portion of the face or hair, and are meant to signal that an object or person draped in one is sacred. Historically, women wore their hair flowing down their backs as a sign of virginity and the veil draped over the hair or face demonstrated a reverence for the bride’s virginal status and modesty. The lifting of the veil functioned as the emblematic gesture of the man taking possession of the woman. Nowadays, veils are a traditional remnant that mostly functions aesthetically.

However, veils are steadily giving way to hairpieces or headpieces among contemporary brides. Not only are veils a bit antiquated, they can be quite the hassle. Veils can easily snag on any and every protruding surface. Besides potentially snagging on something, veils can get hot and potentially mess up elaborate hair-dos.  

The most memorable—and outlandish—example of a hairpiece that comes to mind is the one worn by Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in the first Sex and the City movie. Luckily, headpieces have become more subdued and manageable for those of us who are not fabulous style icons and trendsetters. An example of a hairpiece or headpiece that is a little more subdued and a lot more breathtaking is the one worn by Kim Kardashian during her wedding to Kris Humphries. Kardashian donned a stellar diamond circlet that featured dangling diamonds draped across her forehead. But Kim is not the only starlet to dive into the hairpiece trend. Carrie Underwood, Alicia Keys, Anne Hathaway and Camila Aves (wife of Matthew McConaughey) have all embraced hairpieces as an enchanting part of their bridal aesthetic.

These beautiful celebrity brides have all chosen to incorporate circlet hairpieces into their bridal ensemble, but there are a few different options for brides-to-be to choose from, including decorative combs, bejeweled headbands, and hair chains. (The possibilities are endless!) Decorative combs can be incorporated into an up-do hairstyle or styled into long flowing locks. Hairpieces that use decorative combs offer a lot of options in terms of working brooches or a variety of gemstones, such as pearls or diamonds, into the comb. Family brooches or gemstones can be used to adorn the comb and simultaneously fulfill the something borrowed or something old requirement of the four somethings.

Also, hairpieces—whether they are combs, headbands or chains—are a perfect opportunity to include accent colors in the form of colored gemstones. While the bride might want to wear a white diamond or pearl headpiece, she might also consider finding a smaller headpiece, similar to but not quite the same as her own, for her bridesmaids.

The best part about headpieces, though, is that they can be combined with a veil if so desired. For brides that have their hearts set on veils, but who are also interested in the creative quality of headpieces, don’t worry—you can integrate both!