Our Brides Are Beautiful

Bill and I are always awestruck by the beauty of the brides we marry. Our brides are truly beautiful. They appear “angelic” in their bridal gowns. We believe the elegance and beauty of our brides is due to not what they wear, but rather diffuses from their joy and poise; there is an unmistakable aura that surrounds every bride. There is a sense of presence – this transfiguration is palpable when the first note of the processional music sounds.

The white wedding gown is a rather recent tradition. Brides of the Victorian period wore white as a reflection of their privileged background. Those who were wealthy enough could afford to wear a white dress for just one day. The association of white with purity has relaxed over the years. Now the color is primarily associated with the wedding celebration.

The gown’s train is an extension of the presence of the bride, leaving an aura of grandeur in her wake. Trains are popular, but very long ones are impractical. The sweep (just touching the floor), chapel (trailing along behind) and cathedral train (over 3 feet long) are the ones most brides choose.

Headpieces – from lace mantillas, garlands and hats to princess crowns – have evolved over the centuries and in different cultures. Many brides wear a headpiece without a veil or remove the veil and wear just the headpiece at the reception. The wedding veil, one of the most ancient traditions, has stood for youthfulness and virginity. In the United States the veil was not always a part of wedding attire.

When the widow Margaret Curtis was married to George Washington in 1759, she wore a gown of white statin and diamond-buckled shoes – but no veil. But Martha Curtis’s daughter, Nellie, inadvertently set a trend. She was sitting by a lace-curtained window when her stepfather’s aide, Lawrence Lewis, walked by and was enchanted by her lace-framed face. It was love at first sight, and clever Nellie later re-created the flattering effect by wearing a lacey veil when she married Lawrence. It was in the Victorian period that brides began to wear white veils instead of veils of different colors.

Lastly, just a few words about lace: I love lace and consider it the ultimate in bridal finery. Lace with its intricate openwork is delicate and extraordinarily beautiful. Historically, lace made by the hands of artisans in Venice, Italy, England, Belgium and France was considered to be fine art. It could take months to crochet one-square inch of lace. Today the most exquisite laces are extremely expensive.

Lace with its charm and grace is sewn on bridal gowns, headpieces and veils to adorn the bride and to be appreciated by guests at the wedding. There was a time when delicate underpinnings were trimmed with lace, and just the mere glimpse of a frilly hem was an enchanting treat. And in bygone days friends and strangers alike who believed in the mystical attributions of the bride actually tried to take pieces of lace or ribbon from the bridal costume for their own good luck. Nowadays catching the bride’s garter or bouquet has replaced such antics.

A pretty, sweet lace handkerchief carried by the bride may be the “something old” – perhaps it might already be a family heirloom. Surely the one she carries for her wedding will become a treasure for future generations.

Now that I have given you my perspective on the beautiful brides we have married, I have some tips for brides.

Decide if you are going to wear a simple or two-tiered veil. Will you have one of the veils cover your face? Will you have your father (escort) lift the veil? Sometimes it is lifted just for the kiss and then returned to cover the bride’s face so the groom can have the honor of revealing the bride’s face at the end of the ceremony before the first kiss.

Many photographers suggest that the bride not cover her face with a veil during the ceremony since they claim that it ruins photos of the bride’s face.

If your gown has a train, after the escort presents you, the escort should wait until the bride and groom walk forward and the train and veil have cleared the way for the escort to go to his/her seat. This avoids any mishaps. Quite often the bride’s father inadvertently steps on the train or veil as the bride moves forward.

Among the maid of honor’s duties is to assist the bride with her bridal gown and veil. Photos are taken from many angles during the ceremony. The gown’s train may need straightening. The veil may cover too much of the bride’s face or may not be falling properly. As the ceremony takes place and the bride and groom move about the gown and veil may need adjustment. The train, especially if it is cathedral length, is fluffed before the recessional. The maid of honor returns the bridal bouquet to the bride before delicately rearranging her train. The bride and groom should know not to advance until this is done.