by Lexi Soulios for Unique Celtic Jewelry
For definitions, see Celtic Headpiece Glossary.
Thanks to the recent rise in popularity of tribal culture and the mythological realms of faeries and elves, circlets and tiaras are fast becoming two of the most sought-after bridal accessories. Such beloved characters as Arwen (Liv Tyler) from Lord of the Rings and Lucy from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have played no small part in building this trend.
In fact, bridal headpiece options are numerous. In addition to circlets and tiaras, a bride can choose coronets, crowns, garlands and of course veils. There are many different styles, materials and ways of wearing each accessory, including combining them. Crowns, for instance, can be made of flowers or metal, with or without gemstones. Veils can be worn separately or framed by a tiara or circlet.
Perhaps the most universal headpiece, veils have a long tradition. During ancient Greek and Roman times, bridal veils were mandatory symbols of modesty and purity. In other early cultures where arranged marriages were common practice, the veil may have served as a kind of guarantee to invested family members who hoped to prevent rejection of the chosen partner until after the union was officiated. As the ceremony ended, the groom would lift the veil and the newly wedded partners would see each other for the first time—for better or worse.
Gaelyn, a popular designer of Celtic and Renaissance jewelry, has been helping individuals select ceremonial head adornment for years. She recommends that women planning for Celtic wedding ceremonies or handfasting first decide on the dress and then seek out the proper accompaniment for head and hair decoration. “This narrows the field,” Gaelyn explains, “and helps determine how formal and elaborate the headdress can tastefully be.”
The ever-increasing favor of circlets, coronets and tiaras puts designers in a great position to help brides-to-be navigate the terrain between fashion fad and real personal preference. “When a client comes to us looking for a wedding tiara and finds one she genuinely loves, we know that she is not just purchasing a piece to be worn once and left in a dark drawer for years,” Gaelyn says. “She’ll later be able to wear the tiara as part of a ritual or costume or she may decide to have it slightly modified to fit as a necklace, rich with special memories of her wedding day.” And of course, there is always something to be said for saving that meaningful piece to pass down to a daughter for her special day.
So, is there a right or a wrong way to wear any of these headpieces? Sellers of veils and other head or hair accessories should be willing to provide thorough instructions on exactly how to apply and wear their products for a proper, secure fit. It’s also useful to ask friends what head adornment they wore for their own wedding—was it comfortable and did it last, intact, through the whole event?
Here are a few quick tips that can help when trying on items or imagining how something might look: