Why Do Brides Wear Veils? The Reason Is Not at All What You May Think

Why Do Brides Wear Veils? The Reason Is Not at All What You May Think
Source: AP
Source: AP

There's a reason that the bridal veil tradition exists, and we promise, it's almost certainly not what you're thinking. The veil didn't begin as a barrier to keep the groom from seeing the bride before the couple was officially married; it has less to do with keeping the bride pure than with keeping the ceremony demon-free. As Marie Claire reported, bridal veils were originally intended to keep evil spirits away by making the bride look like a tower of flames.

Read more: These Indian Women Have Had Enough With Wedding Body Shaming

According to Marie Claire, ancient Roman brides were draped in red full-body shrouds called flammeums that were meant to ward off hell beasts and otherworldly influences. The practice then evolved into the symbolic transfer of the woman-as-property from her father to his new son-in-law, a neat sexist marriage tradition that persists today.

Source: Giphy

That's not the only bridal veil theory floating around, though. As Huffington Post reported, the flammeum was also perfectly sized to the bride so that she could wear it again — at her funeral. The shroud was supposed to serve both nuptial and burial purposes. If the expense for this piece of fabric came anywhere close to that of modern wedding garb, wearing it on more than just the one occasion suggests our forebearers were a more practical bunch than us. 

According to the Huffington Post, veils also came in handy in cultures where arranged marriages were the norm. Often, the groom wouldn't have set eyes on his betrothed before their big day, so the instituting a practice in which vows were exchanged before the veil was lifted proved useful for scheming parents — a groom couldn't jilt a bride after passing judgment on her face. 

While that probably saved women from a degree of public shaming, it probably also meant that a lot of women were bound to douchebags till death do they part. But at least their weddings weren't rudely interrupted by meddling spirits. 

Source: Giphy

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Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

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