Ukrainian brides used to wear wedding wreaths for their big day. This tradition existed for several hundred years. Today, women in Ukraine rarely wear wreaths for the wedding, so this wedding tradition has almost disappeared. But the local museums still have large collections of authentic bridal wreaths made from wax, yarn, artificial flowers (fresh flowers, of course, haven’t survived), wooden shavings, metal, feathers, foil, and other materials. And these headwear pieces can be striking – we look at them and understand why women wanted to wear them and considered them inspiring.
First of all, you should know that a wreath was only a piece of the wedding headdress, which consisted of several items. Usually, brides didn’t wear the wreath directly on the hair, they wore a kerchief underneath – mostly because bridal wreaths were heavy and could have a hard metal frame, so they would feel very uncomfortable and even painful if put on the head without any cushioning. Sometimes, there were a few kerchiefs or some kind of caps worn around the head and forehead. Like you see here – a colorful headband, a navy blue kerchief, and a wreath on top.
Most bridal wreaths were adorned with a lot of colorful ribbons that covered the back of the bride. They reached at least the waist or lower.
The variety of materials used to make wedding wreaths was wide – from fresh flowers to wood and metal. Below, you’ll see many of them.
Ukrainian brides often had two bridal wreaths (like women today have two wedding outfits – for the ceremony and for the party). One wreath was used during the ritual of inviting guests to the wedding, the second – during the wedding ceremony itself. It could be the same headdress but altered for the ceremony with additional elements, or it could be two separate wreaths. The headpiece a woman wore for her wedding ceremony she preserved during her whole life and considered it sacred. Women even put their bridal wreath inside religious icons, behind the glass. We still have many such icons with old wreaths in museums and in families.
Bridal wreath made from wax flowers and beads, foil balls, and artificial leaves. Has a wireframe. Because of the wire, the elements move and the headgear appears to tremble
Another wedding wreath made from wax beads, artificial flowers and leaves, and foil balls, which reflect the sun. It also has a wireframe but it’s simpler. The wax beads used to be white and the flowers and leaves colorful
Snow-white bridal wreath with long vines made from wax flowers, leaves, and beads. It has two long front parts that go onto the bride’s shoulders and torso, which look really festive. The wireframe is extremely delicate and flexible, so all the elements move and the headdress appears to tremble and flutter like leaves in the wind
It was worn like this.
Several different wreaths and a stylized artificial wedding bouquet (at the right). You can see that the size and shape of the headpieces are different, as are the materials. Some are made from artificial flowers, others from yarn balls, third from wax beads, and one more has feathers as adornments. Also, some of them have plenty of colorful ribbons, while others only two thin ribbons to tie the headpiece to the head
Here a few wedding wreaths made from yarn pom-pons combined with artificial flowers, feathers, wax beads, etc.
Ornate bridal headdress in the shape of a headband with ribbons attached to it. The headband is embellished with beading, sequins, and coins. The ribbons are brocade and expensive. You can also see here that the headband is actually made from straw and covered with fabric
Colorful wedding wreath made from wooden shavings (that form artificial flowers) and foil balls. It has a wireframe. The wooden shavings are brightly dyed and artfully organized to resemble flowers. This particular wreath is a modern replica of an authentic one
Bridal headdresses called “chiltse” with lots of metal decorations. It is worn on the forehead. Such a headpiece is typical for Western Ukraine. Ordinary girls can wear it alone but brides add ribbons, a wreath, a kerchief, and other items to it. It is just a part of the wedding headpiece that covers the forehead
Extremely unique and lovely bridal wreath, very rare item. It is made from feathers, artificial flowers, foil, beads, and ribbons. The feathers sort of form flowers; there are also large foil flowers and other elements. It is used only in one village of Ukraine, in Ivano-Frankivsk region. Wreaths of this particular shape are still used in this village as wedding headdresses even today