The flammeum was the bride's rectangular, enveloping veil which left her face uncovered. The flammeum as part of the wedding dress and attire worn by the bride at ancient Roman Weddings is the subject of some debate due to some confusion regarding the color. The word 'flammeum' is likened to the Latin word 'flamma' meaning flame indicating a red color, so some believe that the wedding veil was red. However, the famous writer Pliny wrote that the bride's hairnet was egg-yolk colored and dyed with luteum, and that the flammeum was also dyed with luteum. This dye is commonly called weld, from Reseda luteola which produces the pigment luteolin, a deep yellow dye. Ancient Roman literary sources make it clear that the flammeum, the wedding veil, was a deep yellow, like the flame of a candle.
Roman Weddings - the Wedding Dress and 'Tying the Knot'
The bride's attire, like that of today, was special and worn only once. On the wedding day the bride was dressed in a simple robe of pure white (a tunica recta) which was bound with a woollen belt. The ritual and complicated marriage knot of the bride's belt was called the Nodus Herculaneus which symbolized the virility of Hercules, who fathered seventy children, which her husband alone was to unloose. This is the derivation of the saying 'Tying the Knot'. Wearing her wedding dress the bride waited for the arrival of the bridegroom. Traditionally the bridegroom, accompanied by a party of friends, carried her off with an appearance of violence, from the arms of her parents, to denote the reluctance the bride was supposed to feel at leaving her paternal roof.
Roman Weddings - the Hairstyle of the Bride
The bride's hairstyle was unique to brides and was called tutulus. The hair was divided into sex crines, six locks, and was fastened with vittae, fillets, on the top of her head in a meta, cone. Her hair was parted with a hasta recurva or hasta caelibaris, bent iron spearhead and crowned with flowers. It is not really known why this ritual was practiced, except that the ancient Romans may have believed that this would drive out the evil spirits thought to be living in the hair.