Wedding Veil Specialists and Their Arts: 1899, 1905

The Wedding Morning, John Henry Frederick Bacon, 1892 (c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Wedding Morning, John Henry Frederick Bacon, 1892 (c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Veil Specialist and Her Art

On the day for the wedding the veil specialist, accompanied by a messenger boy, who carries a very long, but very light box, such as is usually used for long stemmed flowers, but which on this occasion holds a much more precious treasure arrives at the bride’s house in a decidedly bustling and business-like mood.

She goes at once to the bride’s room where she instantly begins to clear the deck for action. Bridesmaids, relatives, and servants are turned out without ceremony. Not even the bride’s mother is permitted to remain. It’s a solemn ceremony, at which only the priestess and the devotee may be present.

“Besides,” says the veil specialist, “they would be sure to make remarks which would make us both nervous.”

Although low coiffures are so very fashionable, most brides still dress their hair high, and with this naturally goes a high arrangement of orange blossoms, a low arrangement of the hair with the wedding veil, though exquisitely pretty and picturesque, is considered by many to lack the elegance of the high coiffure. With the low coiffure also the orange blossoms may be worn high, but if a low hair dressing is most becoming it is usually found that the orange blossoms worn back of and over the ears carry out the desired effect most exquisitely…

It is in the effect about the face that the real lace veil is so beautiful, especially in the case of a dark haired bride. For a very fair bride, on the other hand, nothing is more beautiful than the delicate frame which the tulle veil affords.

Not very many brides wear the veil over the face at fashionable weddings. In throwing back the drapery after the ceremony, it is usually found that the hair has been unbecomingly mashed down, and thus the bride on this great occasion of her life has a somewhat forlorn and crestfallen appearance…

 The bride’s mother is the first to be admitted to her boudoir to inspect the work of the veil specialist. Bridesmaids, relatives and friends, released from their long durance, where they have been holding vigil outside the door, are then admitted.

They may admire, but they may not criticise. The work of the veil specialist is final, and when she opens the door of the bride’s boudoir it means that all is ready to proceed at once to the church.

The veil specialist during the half hour that she bends over her client, shaping the delicate sprays of bridal blossoms, folding and pinning and draping the soft masses of tulle, sees all kinds of brides, glad and sad and merry and mad—hysterical brides, dimpling brides, ambitious brides. There are brides who keep a sharp eye on the mirror to see whether she’s doing it right, and some who sit silently through it all with their eyes steadily fastened on their hands. There are brides who weep softly and brides who talk volubly. There are brides who cannot refrain from talking of “him” even to a stranger.

Do they ever confide in the veil specialist? Does her interest ever pierce through the veil into the secrets of the hearts beating so rapidly beneath the white satin bodies? Does she carry away any recollections not connected with the manipulation of lace and orange blossoms?

Who can say? Only the veil specialist and she will not. She is like the family doctor or the private chaplain—her usefulness depends entirely on her trustworthiness. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 30 April 1905: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil was fascinated to learn that there was such a profession as “veil specialist.” Naturally the French were deemed superior in this art.

An 1840s bride with filmy tulle veil.

An 1840s bride with filmy tulle veil.


A French Artist Who Devotes is Talents Exclusively to Beautifying Brides.

There is a man in New York—a Frenchman, of course—who devotes his artistic fingers and brain to deftly arranging the wings or flower in his customers’ bonnets and hats or to draping the long tulle veil that envelopes the blushing brides of the season. A recent visit to the Frenchman’s studio taught us many things hitherto unknown in our philosophy of clothes.
Our ring was answered by a small page in livery, who ushered us into a beautifully artistic room, with rare bits of carved Dutch furniture and Gobelin tapestries. About the room were odd fancies of brass and rare bits of china. The door was presently opened and a tall, sinuous woman in a long, clinging black gown enters and informs us:
“Mr. Le Blanc is at present engaged in arranging a wing in Mme. Astorbilt’s bonnet.”
You wait. Your cab waits—at New York prices. When your patience is almost exhausted and you feel that Dutch furniture and old brasses are but small compensation for a waning afternoon, Mr. Le Blanc enters—a typical little Frenchman in very English clothes. When monsieur finds mademoiselle wishes several hats and for a trousseau his interest increases perceptibly. We are conducted into a little apartment hung with seductive mirrors and softened lights, where even Medusa herself would find a becoming bonnet….After several selections were made, monsieur, viewing with an artistic eye every turn of the head and droop of a feather, asked who would adjust mademoiselle’s veil. Upon her replying: the modiste who made her gown—“Mademoiselle is rather fertile [in her imagination,]” said monsieur. [And one can almost hear the Gallic chuckle.] 

“What is the height of the gentleman mademoiselle will wed?” With a ring of pardonable pride my little bride replies: “Quite six feet.” Monsieur throws up his hands in horror, exclaiming: “Mademoiselle would go up ze aisle looking like one mushroom or one flying hyena.” Appalled by such a frightful prediction, my little friend sank into a chair and implored monsieur to save her from such a fate. She was placed in front of a mirror and swathed in folds of white satin, while monsieur studied the effects of lights and shades. The necessary folds of white tulle were then draped by monsieur’s skilled fingers around a tiny cornet of orange blossoms, and caught with a white aigrette with the dexterity born only of a Frenchman and a genius. Chicago Chronicle. Idaho Register [Idaho Falls, ID] 3 November 1899: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil has previously written on lace wedding veils with the brides’ dreams woven into them, the reluctant sale of an heirloom veil that resulted in a happy marriage, and an embarrassing veil incident at a society wedding.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


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