Last-Minute Bridal Veil
by Virginia Chase Sutton

Ordering flowers for my six bridesmaids, different colored
blossoms for each attendant wired on combs, I choose
a wreath for myself, white and peach roses like my bouquet.

Not a hippie wedding–I will wear a long white gown with
illusion sleeves, roses embroidered along the top, the bridesmaids
an array of color. Even clusters of blooms on the wedding cake

are piped cascades matching the women’s dresses. But
when the florist’s big boxes appear on my wedding morning,
the wreath is instead a wired circle of flowers. An error, fit

only for a young baby instead of my noggin. A headpiece
is required for church and a pinned on handkerchief will not
do. Please let me wear your bridal veil I beg my recently

divorced sister, her gown along with Juliet cap and veil trussed
in a huge blue box in the attic, preserved souvenir from her own
wedding two years before. Finally she agrees and I don

flowing layers, but not before first cutting away the blusher
with my shears. Now open, the box loses any charm and
my sister drags it into the trash. I am sad, not the edgy bride

I envisioned, but just a woman in white, topped with a Q-tip.
Ordinary, like every single bride in magazines I’ve been
reading for months. I want to be different but am forced

to settle for immediacy. At the church, I take my father’s
arm, march down the aisle; sashay back with my new husband.
What’s happened to your flowers he asks breathlessly

as we climb into the waiting car. My brand new brother-in-law
guns the engine and we take off for the wedding reception
a dozen miles away. Once at full speed I slide open the car’s

window, rip the bridal veil, which is not my own, and is not
really a gift, from my skull. Waving it in the sunny August
afternoon, it is like a puff of cotton candy, or the biggest

gone-to-seed damn dandelion ever. I hold it with two fingers
enjoying the breeze then let the wind rip it from me–the
expensive Juliet hat with attached tulle vanish. My

brown hair, styled this morning, churns in the breeze as I
power up the window, my new husband aghast at my solution.
It’s a crown of flowers or nothing I explain and finally he nods,

unconvinced. Let’s go back and find the bridal veil he says. Keep
going I shout to the front seat and we do, my bare head the only
solution to the heart-breaking loss of my unwearable wreath.

PHOTO: The author on her wedding day in her last-minute bridal veil.


Virginia Chase Sutton
’s third book of poems,Of a Transient Nature, was just published by Knut House Press. Her second book,What Brings You to Del Amo, won the Morse Poetry Prize and was published by Northeastern / University Press of New England. Her first book was Embellishments (Chatoyant). Her poems have won the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Comstock Review, Quarterly West, among many other magazines, journals, and anthologies.Nominated six times for a Pushcart Prize, she holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has been a resident many times at the Ragdale Foundation and once at Vermont Studio Center. She lives in Tempe, Arizona, with her husband.