Use Kanzashi hair ornaments as a gorgeous veil alternative

May 8 | Guest post by creepingminx meganfinley
Kanzashi
Creepingminx's amazing kanzashi hair ornament. Photo by Julie Tinton.

I knew very early on in planning that I did not want to wear a veil. I could never picture myself in one and struggled with the idea that I would feel pressure to wear one. I looked at many fascinators but no matter how many different shapes and styles I tried, I couldn't find something that didn't make me feel really self conscious or awkward. It really sucked because they were all so pretty and the options were endless — however, I always ended up feeling like an awkward puppy with a cone on!

I have a casual love for Japan and have been aware of the beautiful hair styles and accompanying paraphernalia that maiko and geisha are so widely known for. I started reading more about the various kanzashi and found myself lusting over the pictures. I knew I wasn't going to pull off anything too flamboyant but I still wanted something that would add a bit of excitement to my bridal look.

Tsumami Kanzashi hair pin/fork featuring vintage kimono silk fabric in a vivid deep purple, by Etsy seller TheaStarr.
Kanzashi are hair ornaments and tsumami kanzashi are hair ornaments made from folded fabric, usually silk. The fabric is cut into 1" squares and folded & pinched into shapes like petals. These petals are then formed into different flowers or "hana" and then attached to a clip or hair prong.

After much research, I found an artist with an Etsy store and started a custom order with her. The process was fun and it only took about 10 days to complete. They really are pieces of art and it's always worth investing in something personal and custom. The tsumami kanzashi I had custom made cost less than most of the veils I had been shown. It helped complete my look in a way nothing else could. It's always worth thinking outside the box and considering things that maybe you weren't aware were options!

And make sure to check out the DIY tutorials on how to make your own kazashi-style flowers and Offbeat Bride's hats and veil alternatives pin board for even more inspiration.

Creepingminx with her fabulous kanzashi hair piece and her new husband on their wedding day. Photo by Julie Tinton.
  1. I love the history of kanzashi–most you find are made using vintage kimono silk scraps and they've been worn much longer than silly wedding veils. :)
    If you get the opportunity to have your kanzashi custom-made (and I recommend it) get it as modular as possible. Get flowers on separate pins, or have the falls detachable. You'll be amazed at how wearable these are in the everyday!

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    • That's a great idea. I really hope I can find more excuses to wear the one I got for the wedding. It's far too pretty to be locked away!

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  2. Wow. My mind was just blown. These are beautiful.

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  3. Love it, love it, love it. I made kanzashi flowers for our ring pillow and flowergirl basket…and am now thinking I might make some for my daughter's christening!

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  4. Another pretty thing that is compelling me to get crafty. Must find some good tutorials on this topic!

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    • I also recommend checking out Vivcore's Kanzashi Core site. She has a tutorial for the more traditional (read: more messy than Gem's tute!) method of making kanzashi, as well as a TON of amazing kanzashi photos of pieces she made in the past.
      She also has a section that details traditional kanzashi floral content for each month of the year, which would be cool to coordinate with your wedding! :D

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  5. I made one for my after-wedding dress (and will be making another for my wedding!!) I just made a handful of flowers, glued them on a base and glued the tops of the ribbon falls underneath the base! I think it turned out lovely!

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    • OMG! That is totally gorgeous! I love the colours you used. I wish I had the patience to make my own.

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  6. Doesn't this fall into cultural appropriation?

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    • I considered the issue of cultural appropriation before approving this post, and personally, I don't personally find this problematic.

      If Kanzashi hair ornaments were being used for something other than their traditional purpose (ie, if this was an instance of using a powerful religious symbol as ornamentation), I would be more concerned. But this is essentially a Japanese wedding hair bauble being used as a Scottish wedding hair bauble, so it doesn't set off my alarms for problematic appropriation. Obviously, different people may draw their own lines differently. For more thoughts about cultural appropriation in weddings, this post has some great food for thought: http://offbeatbride.com/2011/11/cultural-appropriation

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  7. I completely missed this post going online as I was slipping cocktails on a paradise island in the Indian Ocean at the time (YAY HONEYMOONS)

    Cultural appropriation is definitely something to be aware of and as Ariel said people draw their own lines differently. I personally wouldn't consider doing origami as cultural appropriation but others may do.

    Having said that I feel that supporting artisans is very important – with most of the items we purchased for the wedding I tried my hardest to source from a independent artist rather than big chain stores.

    The wedding has taught me that it is very easy and a lot more "Earth friendly" to go custom and get something made to your exact needs, than pay for mass produced items that have no longevity.

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  8. Will deffinatly be stealing this for my wedding, I've been looking for japanese fusion theme stuff, because my fiancee is japanese ^^ thanks for the great idea

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  9. https://www.etsy.com/shop/hanatsukuri

    These sisters have been making my kanzashi for years as can be seen here:

    http://hanatsukuri.deviantart.com/art/Holy-Moon-and-Graceful-Moon-2-117504386

    http://hanatsukuri.deviantart.com/art/Scarlet-and-Gold-Lotus-216296681

    http://hanatsukuri.deviantart.com/art/Rainy-Lotus-216295326

    They even used that last one as a template when my then-boyfriend/now husband-to-be commissioned them for 'placeholder rings' as he was between jobs when he proposed. See the rings here:
    http://hanatsukuri.deviantart.com/art/An-Eternal-Promise-Engagement-252051516

    They're so awesome, and they actually invented the lotus design for me as there was no traditional pattern for them! You want custom themed beauty with traditional-ish tsumami folding techniques, that's where I go.

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