Guide to Selecting Your Veil

The two biggest style issues a bride-to-be has to consider in preparation for the big day are #1 her dress, and #2 what, if anything, to wear as head adornment. There are veils, circlets, tiaras, coronets, crowns and garlands. Of those, there are many different styles, materials and ways of wearing each accessory. Veils, for instance, can be worn separately or framed by a tiara or circlet. Crowns can be made of flowers or metal, with or without gemstone adornment.

Back in ancient Greece and Rome, bridal veils were mandatory as symbols of modesty and purity. In other early cultures where arranged marriages and marriages by purchase were common practice, the veil may have served as a sort of guarantee to invested family members who hoped to prevent rejection of the chosen partner until after the union was officiated. As the ceremony ended, the groom would lift the veil and the newly wedded partners would see each other for the first time--for better or worse.

In modern times, at least in the Western world, there are fewer restrictions on women; brides today have the freedom to reflect their own character through the adornment they choose. Some women maintain tradition with a formal costume including both veil and tiara, while others prefer a more relaxed look by wearing a circlet alone. Some women may find a veil with tiara appropriate for the wedding ceremony, and decide to remove the veil afterwards, leaving on the tiara for dancing and mingling with guests during the reception.

When trying to determine the right style for you, begin by exploring some of the options available. Peruse bridal magazines or search online. Ask friends what head adornment they've seen or what they themselves wore for their own weddings--was it comfortable and did it last, in tact, through the whole event?

One designer of a popular Celtic and Renaissance jewelry line has been helping individuals select ceremonial head adornment for years. She recommends that women planning for handfasting or marriage ceremonies first select the dress and then seek out the proper accompaniment for head and hair decoration. "This narrows the field," she explains, "and helps determine how formal and elaborate any manner of headdress can tastefully be."

Thanks to the recent rise in popularity of tribal culture and the mythological realms of fairies and elves, circlets and tiaras are fast becoming two of the most sought-after bridal accessories. Such beloved characters as Arwen (Liv Tyler) from Lord of the Rings and Lucy from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have played no small part in building this trend.

The ever-increasing favor of circlets and tiaras puts designers, such as the one mentioned above, in a great position to help brides-to-be navigate the terrain between fashion fad and real personal predilection. "When a client comes to us looking for a wedding tiara and finds one she genuinely loves, we know that she is not just purchasing a piece to be worn once and left in a dark drawer for years," the designer says. "She'll later be able to wear the tiara in ritual or costume time; or, she may decide to have it slightly modified to fit as a necklace, rich with special memories of her wedding day."

Brides who choose to wear circlets or coronets during their ceremony will have similar options afterwards. And of course, there is always something to be said for saving that meaningful piece to pass down to a daughter for her special day.

So, is there a right or a wrong way to wear any of these headpieces? Sellers of veils and other head or hair accessories should be willing to provide thorough instructions on exactly how to apply and wear their products for a proper, secure fit.

General information can also be found with a simple online search (e.g., with keywords: "how" and "veil"). However, there are a few quick tips that can help women when trying on items or imagining how something might look: To explore wearing both a veil and a tiara, remember to put the veil on first and then the tiara. The veil usually sits just in front of the crest of the head and the tiara then acts as a decorative border (there should be no gap between veil and tiara).

To try out a more informal look, with hair down and no veil, slant the tiara at an angle of about 45 degrees. If it's worn horizontally, the look resembles more of a beauty pageant winner. In all cases, remember to hide the ends of the tiara behind the hair.