DIY: Wedding Veil

Putting the veil on.

Putting the veil on.

Wedding veils are a special piece of clothing. Patriarchal connotations aside, it is one of the things that marked me as a bride in my mind when I got married. I love the pictures of me putting it on before the ceremony.

Veils are horrifically overpriced. The ones I was offered while trying on my dress were all over $120. A quick scan of the major outlets that I considered, and these two come into (pricey) focus.

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Courtesy of David’s Bridal

The most affordable one, at 66 GBP ($100). Others that were similar to mine come in at nearly $200, inexplicably.

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Courtesy of David’s Bridal

You might think, as I did, that going the Etsy route might be a cost-saver. You would be mostly wrong.

How is this 81 GBP, exactly? Courtesy of gebridal.

How is this 81 GBP, exactly? Courtesy of gebridal.

I dreamed of making my own wedding veil for years. I used to wrap myself in my great-grandmothers’ table cloths, imagining how cool they would look as a homemade cathedral veil. I wanted to make my own, and this is how I went about it.

To Make Your Own Wedding Veil

  1. Decide what length you would like, and the style. My veil is a fingertip veil with a blusher to go over the face.
  2. Research your fabric options. Keep in mind that vintage fabrics will cost more. ALWAYS check the measurements with a measuring tape at home before ordering. Order a comb of a medium size as well.
  3. When your fabric arrives, play with it. For several days/weeks. Don’t cut it until you are sure of what style you’d like.
  4. Lace is hard. I originally wanted a mantilla-like veil. I decided the lace weighed it down too much and skipped it. If you want a mantilla-veil DIY tutorial, check out this one!
  5. Decide how to attach the veil. I used metal wire and wrapped it around the comb with freshwater pearls and beads, but plain string could work just as well. Make certain that the attachment will be strong.
  6. Sit down in the afternoon and attach the veil. Try it one with the comb and make sure you like the placement.
    Close up of the attachment.

    Close up of the attachment.

     

  7. If you’re happy with it, reinforce the attachment site with another round of wire/string.
  8. Be happy with your wedding veil!
IMG_4987

Playing with the veil in late October.

My whole veil cost less than 20 GBP to make, and it was exactly what I wanted. If you only do one DIY project, let this be it!

 

This is What a Feminist Wedding Looks Like…Or: Just Do What *You* Want

Revelling in Being MARRIED

Revelling in Being MARRIED

We started this year boyfriend and girlfriend. We’re ending it husband and wife. 2014 has been a ride!

Getting married is so fulfilling to me. I have spent so much time and effort in my life imagining the day, the dress, the man, the veil…and two Saturdays ago I got to have the very best day of my life (so far!). I still feel charged up with the amazing love and warmth that permeated that day, and we haven’t even been able to take a honeymoon yet.

But there is another side to weddings that isn’t always obvious to guests, but which comes all too clearly into focus the moment a woman gets engaged. Traditions. Etiquette to be considered. Opinions. Opinions. Opinions. I was only engaged for four months, but that was PLENTY for me, thank you very much. If you’ve recently gotten engaged, I feel for you. Especially if you happen to be a woman. Especially especially if you happen to identify as a feminist.

People you don’t even really know will volunteer their opinions of everything from flowers to name-changing, often with the very worst of timing. The Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC) is far more real than I would have ever believed before I got engaged. There are enough ‘rules’ about weddings to make you truly worry that your marriage might be doomed before it even begins if even one DIY mason jar or totally-sustainable vegan flower petal is out of place. I mean, your Beloved totally cares who sits next to whom and will totally not love you if the cake doesn’t have the most perfect, personalised, DIY topper. Not to mention that you should totally listen to people like the Duggars and believe you’re doomed to impure wedded corruption if you live together before marriage. Duh.

Ugh. I admit, I fell prey to some of the toxic thinking that floats around in the wedding ether. Little girls imagine their weddings for years and are encouraged to buy into the WIC from a very young age. In my community in Colorado, ‘purity’ before marriage was taught in schools from a very young age. Sometimes, I felt like I didn’t have a good grip on what being a wife is…so I started to fall into long-out-of-date traditions and ideologies. Never in my life have I been so conscious of my gender and how it is perceived by others.

I know that patriarchy plays a big role in weddings, around the world and throughout time. At other times, I felt like rebelling completely and refusing to be traditional. I read articles like this that made me question the very traditions I was seeking to incorporate. I’ve identified as a feminist ever since I knew the word, as far back as second grade. All these contradictory feelings and ideologies made for a lot of headaches and more than one smudgy makeup teary day (thank you for always being there, Russ!). I wanted to live up to my promise that I would not marry until the GBLTQ community was free to do so in my own country. That got a big boost in the form of the Supreme Court decision that led to a majority of US states now proceeding with same-sex marriages. But so many still cannot marry the partner they’ve chosen. I felt conflicted.

So what’s a feminist bride to do on her wedding day? Whatever the hell she wants. And whatever the hell her partner wants. Together, we made decisions about the ceremony and shared the load of planning.

Veil over the face. A 'bad feminist' move.

Veil over the face. A ‘bad feminist’ move.

Feminism is the ability to make choices, and do what you like as a woman or a man, or any other gender identity. I like a veil over my face. I like a long white dress. I like my rings. I like changing my name to a double-barrelled one (a surprise to me!). I decided to keep some traditions. I decided to bin others. I felt ‘meh’ about some, and they happened or didn’t happen without me desiring to control every single detail of the day.

Like a set, drawn from two centuries

Like a set, drawn from two centuries

Having a feminist wedding is as simple as doing it the way you want, resisting the WIC and all its crap-infused gender bullshit. This is part of why I wanted to DIY much of the wedding, to claw back from the industry the things I was able to make with my own hands. But we also had a packaged wedding at a hotel. I wanted to make sure that we did not include ‘obey’ in the vows or have a true ‘giving away’ at the end of the aisle. We made this explicit with the wording of the ceremony:

“In many cultures, including our own, it has long been a tradition for the father of the bride to ‘give away’ his daughter, but I know that Coleen’s father, Mark, is not here today to relinquish any form of ownership and nor is the groom here to claim any!  But I know that  Mark was delighted to walk Coleen down the aisle today and that both families were delighted when Russell and Coleen announced their engagement.”

But I wore my veil over my face, only removing it when I reached my husband at the ceremony table.

Veil at the ceremony!

Veil at the ceremony!

We spent the night together before our wedding, against traditions in many countries including both of our own. It was a night like almost any other in our life together, a bit of assurance that we had already made the choice to live in a relationship long before, and that no ceremony could cement what more than two years together already had.

The most important part of a feminist wedding? A caring, equal partnership that is already established. The rest is just the celebration!

Much of our wedding was traditional. Much of it wasn’t. The most important part was that it was what we wanted to do. Our love will keep growing, and we’ll keep changing as our lives together go on. The celebration was important, but more important was the established, equal, loving partnership that it sealed. I love being a wife, and I can’t wait to find out more about marriage!

The DIY Wedding

I think I freaked out our venue, the amazing Rosslea Hall Hotel in Rhu, Scotland, as a bride. I kept bringing projects downstairs and asking if I could please borrow some shears. I spent most of the day on Friday last arranging things we’d brought in gigantic suitcases and making sure that everything was set up. Most brides just show up and let everyone who they’ve hired do the details.

Centrepieces

Centrepieces

To me, it couldn’t have been any other way. I get tremendous satisfaction out of being able to make things with my own hands. I love to learn new skills. I love to be frugal. I do crafty projects all the time, and aspire to be a full-blown Maker in the future like my teenage idols, the Mythbusters.

There were a lot of DIY projects for the wedding:

  • My hair and makeup, which I did myself.
  • Our wedding mead! We made it for the ceremony back in January!
The wedding mead, with antique goblets!

The wedding mead, with antique goblets!

  • My alterations to the dress, which included shortening the sleeves after they were added by a professional, adding buttons to the top, and installing a French Bustle.
  • My bouquet, which I made with my sister the night before.
  • My veil, made by hand to match the orange colours of autumn.
Veil at the ceremony!

Veil at the ceremony!

  • My bridal comb, which I made by hand in September to match the veil.
  • The garlands that hung around the hall, and the centrepieces for the tables with crocheted mason jars.
  • Our table plan and name signs, which matched.
World Map table plan

World Map table plan

  • Our tree-stamp guestbook.
  • My mom and sisters’ hats, which they made according to English tradition!
  • Our cake, which we decorated the morning of the wedding.
Cake, assembled and decorated by us!

Cake, assembled and decorated by us!

  • Oh yeah, and just a little thing like our CEREMONY. I’ll post a lot longer about that later, but we hand-crafted the ceremony ourselves and were able to have it exactly as we wanted (including an offering to Pachamama, the Earth Mother goddess from the Andes).

    Pachamama Offering

    Pachamama Offering

There were probably other projects that I’m forgetting at the moment. I had so many hands to help me, and it was great to see how everyone was willing to put in a detail or help out with a project. I plan to write about many of those projects to give others an idea of how to make their own.

Bridal comb with freshwater pearls

Bridal comb with freshwater pearls

I know that DIY is really trendy in weddings at the moment, and that there has been some backlash over it because not everyone wants to make things for their wedding, or some people feel obligated to do so even though they aren’t already into crafts and DIY. This is more about who I am and always have been. It’s a continuation, not a departure from my normal.

Check out the photos, and let me know which projects are most interesting. Which would you like to know how to make?