Those whose rank demands the highest ceremonial usually choose to wear the fine webs of lace already reserved for this special purpose. Queen Mary was married in the veil that her mother, the late Duchess of Teck, had worn. It was ornamented appropriately with a beautiful pattern of rose, shamrock, and thistle.
In nearly every country a patriotic feeling is expressed in the making of the bridal lace. Of the wedding veils of the Bourbon family we have already spoken (see page 3526, Part 29). As it was deemed seemly that these magnificent hand-made veils should be worked in France for the five sisters of the representative of the French dynasty, so also Honiton, in Devon, was chosen to furnish the veil of Queen Victoria. This was sprigged in the characteristic manner of the English workers, who originally copied the Brussels methods.
Queen Alexandra's wedding veil was also English.
The bridal veil of the present Duchess of Saxe-coburg was of lace made by industrious fingers at Moscow. Russian lace is extremely interesting and original in type, and though out little is made at present, it may come into vogue with conspicuous success.
The manufacture of this ace is under Royal patron-age, and the Imperial Family often make valuable gifts of Moscow lace to intimate friends.
The former Duchess of
Saxe-Coburg, a Russian Princess who married Prince Alfred, afterwards Duke of Edinburgh, also had a veil of Russian lace. The characteristic feature of this lace consists in the varying thickness of its threads, which are used so that an effect of either high or low relief is given, according to the density of the work. A garland of roses formed the pattern of this wedding veil for one of Russia's high-born daughters, and it is said to have been the most perfect specimen of lace ever produced at the factory.
The wedding veil of H.m. the Queen of Italy, an exquisite specimen of modern Alencon lace
A scarf veil in finest point gaze
Wedding Veils Worked in Gold
Within recent years colour has occasionally been introduced to relieve the dead white of the conventional wedding toilette. Sometimes gold or silver tissue lines the train; occasionally the " something blue," deemed essential for luck in the completion of the dress, is brought into sight, though it is generally worn as a pale thread of ribbon on the lingerie petticoat, or as a dainty satin bow on a bride's garter.
The veil or dress trimming may be old, and the satin new. The veil, too, is frequently borrowed, and there is always provided a place for a dainty ribbon knot of blue. Thus does the bride fulfil the terms exacted by tradition.
The fashion of using a little colour in the wedding dress is greatly on the increase, for while a few years ago its introduction was wont to raise a storm of comment and protest from the more conservative, it now is considered quite a usual expression of taste on the part of the bride.
No modern bride has yet had her veil hemmed or embroidered with colour. Perhaps some day, gold or silver, already a favourite for trimming the dress, will also appear on the veil. Should it do so, it will be no new thing, but the revival of a fashion which is very old.
A Veil of the Twelfth Century
There was a Royal wedding veil prepared in the twelfth century, and it was of white stuff (probably not transparent) worked with gold and worn with a crown of gold leaves. The veil was drawn straight over the forehead, and high over a square-shaped frame, which lifted it well above the leaf crown. It fell in long folds down the back.
This truly Royal manner of adjusting the wedding veil was adopted by Matilda of Scotland when she was married to Henry I. of England. The effect must have been magnificent and stately, and would not appear so strange to the guests of those days as it would to us now, for the horned headdress was then in fashion, and most women of rank wore a veil or wimple pendent from a wired headdress. This was usually of linen or brocade, laced with gold, or embroidered in chequers of brightly coloured dyes.
A marvellcus piece of needle-point lace, of superb execution and intricate pattern
Photo, Paul Geniaux
Part of the bridal lace of Queen Amelie of Portugal, an example of the introduction of heraldic emblems into such work
Such a veil could be utilised in a moment as a protection against the weather or the rude stare of the multitude. In the reign of Edward III. veils were worn by nearly every woman except those of the lowest class. So general was the veil-wearing of this period, and so extravagant were some of the veils, that in 1363 an Act was passed, prohibiting the use of silk for veils, or any but the simplest material.
In an old fashion plate of 1830, the wedding veil is worn almost as a drapery. It is adjusted to the head, beneath a charming fillet of myrtle. It falls at the back and also at the sides of the face and over the arms. The pretty, transparent net covers the bare arms gracefully. The lace itself is of fine quality, being of Belgian sprigs mounted on machine-made net. This veil is small, only reaching about twelve inches below the waist at the back. The dainty little Early Victorian bride has a tightly fitting lace-sprigged skirt with two flounces of old Brussels. She carries a Prayer Book, and wears pretty satin, heelless slippers.
Though we have no distinct record of the first wearing of the veil at a marriage ceremony, we can trace its gradual adoption through the ages.
On occasions of ceremony, women attended the services of the church wearing a veil instead of hat or bonnet, as to this day at confirmations and bridals. Anglo-saxon women wore a " couvre chef," which eventually became a part of conventual dress. The most important ceremony in the life of a nun was significantly called the taking of the veil, when she became dead to the world and the bride of Christ. The veil was put on exactly as it is by a young girl at the time of her marriage.
In the sixteenth century, the head of a woman was uncovered before marriage, the hair being bound by a fillet. After marriage, it was veiled, and the hair was bound up. In Scotland, to this day, the snood or fillet is the distinctive wear of an unmarried girl, and in Switzerland and the Austrian Tyrol, the hair is in plaits in youth and concealed after marriage.
We can conclude, therefore, that the veil has always been the outward sign of maturity and fraught with meaning in countries where there is conservatism in ceremonial.
In Austria, the wedding veil is considered of deep significance. At the wedding, in October, 1911, of Princess Zila of Bourbon-parma to the Archduke Charles (who stands next to Frances Ferdinand in succession to the Austrian throne), there was much importance attached to the wearing and adjustment of the wedding veil.
The bride's dress was of white duchesse satin, severely plain in cut. The skirt was wide enough to strike horror into the modish hearts of the Rue de la Paix, but the Imperial House of Austria does not follow the fashion, and the dress measured three yards round the bottom. The front of the dress was embroidered in silver thread with myrtle-wreaths, and the fleurs-de-lys of the
Bourbon family. The train was four yards in length, ornamented with the same wreaths of bridal flowers.
Heirloom lace draped the bodice, lace which had been used on the wedding dresses of other members of the Braganza family, and orange-blossoms fastened the bodice. The veil was presented by the Emperor, together with a priceless diadem of jewels. A little nosegay of orange-blossom was tucked into the side of the elaborately dressed coiffure.
The wearing of veils by bridesmaids is a fashion which reappears occasionally. In this case, the veil is arranged beneath a wreath of flowers, and hangs to a little below the waist, but is never worn over the face. The fashion is not, however, a favourite one. There is no particular reason why we should admire these attendant maids, however important their task, therefore we think bridesmaids do well to demand wide-brimmed hats or modish capots, rather than the poetic but trying veil.
Perhaps one of the most richly trimmed bridal dresses of modern days was that worn by Miss Violet Rawson, who, in November, 1911 became the wife of Lord Leconfield, owner of beautiful Petworth, and of some of the finest pictures Vandyke ever painted. Miss Rawson's dress was of lily-white satin, as rightly became so young a beauty. A drapery of fine old Brussels lace formed a crossed fichu bodice. This was fastened down in a somewhat novel way by a long spray of orange-blossoms, which reached nearly from the waist to the shoulder. The vest and collar-band were also of old lace, and ruffles foamed at the elbow in quite a Louis Seize fashion, while the under-sleeves were also of lace cut from a deep flounce. The pointed tunic of satin had a lace flounce, buds of orange-blossom hanging as garlands from the head. From the shoulders fell a magnificent court train of pure white satin, with a long flounce of the old lace caught down with flowers. The wedding veil was of rare old lace, and made a fitting finish to this really regal gown.