Unlike a lot of women, until very, very recently, I'd never given much thought to what my dream wedding would be like. I didn't have the perfect dress picked out, or a jaw-dropping invitation just awaiting the correct masculine name...I don't care if my bridesmaids match and have no intention of barring children from the festivities. (Though guests who show up in Crocs may be turned away!)
It's been mostly fun getting to pick out these things on short notice. I bought my dress off the internet, my shoes were clearance aisle, and my most luxurious purchase was found in a shop off the Via Condotti in Rome (and no, there will be no pictures!) Being my mother's daughter, I knew that a lot of our wedding would be DIY. Besides being fun, it's a way to keep my mind occupied while my fiancé is on another continent.
DIY also lets you work the sentimental value angle, whether it's repurposing family heirlooms or creating your own. The champagne pearls I hand knotted for a necklace were a gift from an old friend; even the ring-bearer's pillow is crafted from bits of my mother's wedding dress. The only thing I knew I HAD to have new was a birdcage veil. I love hats...and this was the next best thing. I was totally born into the wrong decade!
After looking at the prices of veils on Etsy and other sites, it seemed obvious that it would be worth my time to make my own. Almost everything I liked was $80 and up, which seemed steep for less than a yard of material and a comb. I figured finding a tutorial would be pretty simple and the materials were under $10. Hours upon hours of frustration later, my veil is finally completed, no thanks to the conspiracy of the Internet!
Finishing a birdcage veil must be a badge of honor, an exclusive club, or something. I've never read so many tutorials and been so frustrated! It's like the most important step was missing...what I did NEVER looked like the finished product on the models' heads...and no one posted pictures of the finished product, sans head.
Well, I'm going to.
It doesn't look like much, true, but I'm not going to get caught up in first impressions here. Unless they come back in style, I'm guessing I can count on half a hand the number of times I'm going to get to sport a veil in public. So if the ends aren't taped in satin ribbon, please forgive me for not caring!
The trick, at least for me, was realizing that you had to have something to WRAP around the head. Also, that bobby pins are an essential part of the look, unless you want a big veil winging off of your head. Most of the instructions I saw called for cinching up both ends of the veil, then attaching combs. I just didn't care for all the pouf that entailed, and tight, Mask-of-Zorro-like veils were also off-limits.
In the end, here's what I did:
1. I took a piece of Russian veiling about 30 inches long and 9 inches wide (it was longer, but I chopped off a section because it seemed like there was too much material) and washed it. When it dried, I wove thread in and out of the end row of diamonds. I pulled both ends of the thread tight, knotted it and clipped the stray ends.
2. I bobby-pinned this piece to my head, over my ear, as I wanted an angled veil. Standing in front of a mirror, I wove a long strand of fishing line through the top of the veil, gathering it as necessary until I had a style that I was pretty happy with. Carefully removing it from my head, I knotted the fishing line several times so it wouldn't unravel. The 5 inches of remaining material I left free, as you'll see in the picture.
3. To place the veil, I pinned the larger of the two gathers where I wanted my flower to go, then arranged the smaller one so it poufed around my face. The loose end was wrapped around my head and bobby pinned where necessary. All the gathers and bunches end up in roughly the same place, and will be covered with my flower, though they could also be hidden by a strategically placed curl or cute hairclip.