When I got married, everyone (except my photographer) kept insisting that letting my future husband see me before the wedding was pure bad luck. Still others told me that I must walk down the aisle with my veil over my face so that he doesn’t see me until the last moment. I remember wondering why in the world this was such a big deal!
I never really researched the matter until recently, though. Not surprisingly, having your husband clueless as to what you look like on your wedding day and wearing a veil during part or most of the ceremony both have strong historical ties!
In the olden days, weddings were little more than business transactions. The bride’s father generally promised her to wed a man from another family in exchange for something valuable – like power, status, money, or even livestock. That is why it was essential for the groom not to see the bride before the ceremony. After all, he might not find her pretty enough to marry or desirable enough to justify the exchange. The groom could then break off the engagement or run away and, by doing so, would cast shame upon the bride’s family – or bad luck! The veil served as an extension of this precaution. It was used to hide the bride’s face for as long as possible after the ceremony had begun – when it was generally too late for the groom to back out. Some superstitions also say that the veil served the purpose of protecting the bride from evil spirits before and during the ceremony.
Today’s customs of waiting to see each other at the altar and of brides wearing a veil mean far different things, of course. Brides and grooms often choose to wait until the ceremony to see each other on the wedding day simply to add excitement and anticipation to the moment when the bride steps out. The veil is just a fashionable yet traditional accessory for brides today, and many styles of wearing one (and lovely alternatives) exist.
As for the “bad luck,” it is pretty unlikely that any bride in the USA today would experience it for the same reasons as the women in the olden days. My advice is to not let a superstition with dated origins dictate your wedding day.
If you want to see each other before the ceremony, and if you want to waltz down the aisle without a veil, do it. If you want the anticipation of seeing your groom for the first time that day at the altar, and you could not think of nixing your veil, do that instead! My bet is that you are safe either way.
Images courtesy of Nashville wedding photography company Blue Mason Photography.