Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Blushing Bride

During the (wildly fun and busy) past month of weddings, were here at HJ noticed an increase in the number of our brides wearing blushers. A blusher, for those of you dear readers who are unfamiliar with them, is a piece of fabric that covers the bride’s face as she walks down the aisle. The fabric is usually the same as that of the veil, essentially making it a part of the veil – but a part that can be either lifted back or detached, depending on its construction.

Interestingly, the brides wearing blushers were our “older” brides. By older, we mean brides in their mid- to late-30s, which we absolutely know is not old at all, but is an identifier that allows for the following discussion. (Note: we fall within our category of “older”. We hope to not have ruffled too much tulle by using the term).

Why is this “older” identifier interesting? Because blushers are, by far, extremely traditional, and, yet, none of our “older” brides were traditional themselves. (Here, we gracefully sidestep the younger/older bride personality comparison because there really is no way to make one).

Way way back in history, a blusher prevented marrying individuals from seeing one another.
Traditionally, because marriages were alliances made for political, security or financial reasons, it mattered little to the arranging parties (i.e., the parents), whether the bride and groom knew each other prior to their becoming betrothed or married.

However, blushers also prevented someone or something (meaning a group of someones), from stopping the alliance. Brides wore veils so that nobody knew who she was, thereby avoiding the possibility of her identity becoming known and a ruckus (read: group of warriors barging into the church) ensuing. Protecting a bride’s identity meant, in essence, protecting an alliance to which some may have objected.

Consider this: two sets of parents make an alliance between their children that will cause, upon the parents’ deaths, the consolidation of the largest wealth from one set and military force from the other in the area. Many local residents might object to this consolidation since it can (and often did, making the fear well-founded) lead to the two families overtaking and ruling the town.

The thin piece of fabric that was a blusher, therefore, was a type of weapon.

Over time, worries of clan warfare became less prevalent and those of spirits and propriety more important. With this, the purpose of blushers changed to that of, in the former situation, protecting the bride from evil spirits and, in the latter, maintaining her reputation. In regards to reputation, the more people who saw a woman, the less chaste and modest she was presumed to be – the cause of why many women were “locked away” in castles or rooms.
When all of these worries were wiped away sometime in the late 1800s, blushers became a fashion statement. Today, they retain this status, as can be seen by their varied opaqueness and length.

So, why the increase in blushers lately? We attribute it to the newly established style icon for women in their mid- to late-30s:

Lengthy blusher.

Slice of netting = blusher.

And to her sister:

Once again, netting = blusher.

As a side note: some claim that a blusher led to the bride’s being walked down the aisle by her father. This is entirely false, since a woman was historically never permitted to walk anywhere alone not only (once again) for propriety sake, but also because there were no such people as “engineers” to create flat surfaces – can you imagine falling down the aisle?

Finally, I just can’t help myself from showing the gorgeousness that can be a blusher via one of the most iconic brides of all time, Grace Kelly: