The veil completes your wedding ensemble in a way that red lipstick tops off your little black dress and milk makes chocolate chip cookies taste divine. Choosing your veil is an important decision to make as it has the power to draw attention to or distract from the most important subject on your wedding day – you.
It may seem like choosing one piece of fabric is no big deal, but there are so many choices available when it comes to veils, and not every kind fits all. Let us clue you in on the what’s and how’s of choosing a wedding veil.
- Wedding Veils: A Brief History
- Wedding Veil Styles
- Does your veil have to match your dress?
- Are there any Alternatives to a Wedding Veil?
- Do You Even Need a Veil at All?
Wedding Veils: A Brief History
Veils have been worn by women since the Ancient Greek and Roman times to signify modesty, piety, and a way to measure a woman’s place in society. In the Middle Ages, more variety was seen as women used varied materials to clothe their heads, from sheer or opaque cloth, to scarves and kerchiefs. Catholic women wore lace to over their heads whenever they attended churches and funerals. However it was Queen Victoria, who was a major influence in bridal fashion and customs, wore a veil to her wedding to Prince Albert and solidified the trend during her era.
In the context of weddings, the veil has been one of the oldest aspects of the ensemble that was supposed to protect the bride from evil spirits. There is also a superstition which dictates that it’s bad luck for the groom to see his bride before the wedding, and so she is covered with a veil. Brides commonly wear a white dress with a white veil to match, symbolizing her virginity. When the groom lifts the veil before he kisses the bride, he is symbolically consummating the marriage.
Wedding Veil Styles
These days, the veil comes in a myriad of designs, fabrics, and lengths to keep up with the needs and tastes of the modern bride. It’s important to have your wedding dress ready before even browsing through the veil selection, as the veil should complement the dress rather than the other way around
You’ll find that your choice of veil will depend a lot on your dress, and you’ll be able to save time, energy, and money knowing exactly what you’re pairing your veil with. Here are the most popular veil types:
1- Birdcage Veil
Classic birdcage veil by Gilded Shadows. Check price here.
This is a short veil (about 9-10 inches long) which became popular in the 50’s, but is still on trend today because of its simple, light-weight and chic appeal. The birdcage veil is usually made with birdcage netting or Russian netting with large diamond shapes.
2- Bridal Cap Veil
Bridal cap veil by Gilded Shadows. Check price here.
This veil trend started in the 20’s art deco era. It creates a unique illusion of a cap as the veil is gathered on each side of the ear. Brides normally embellish the “cap” with florals, jewels, or lace.
3- Mantilla Veil
Mantilla veil by Alex Bridal. Check price here.
What gives the distinctive characteristic of a mantilla veil is the lace that’s sewed around its border giving it a romantic vibe. This style comes in varying lengths but the classic shape is oval which allows for the lace to cascade beautifully down.
4- Drop Veil
Drop veil by Noon on the Moon. Check price here.
This is a circular cut veil made with one layer of tulle and is placed on the head of the bride gracefully. This classic style can be adjusted according to the desired length in the back and front. The simplicity of this veil allows the details of the dress and the beauty of the bride effortlessly shine through.
5- Blusher Veil
Wedding veil with blusher by Noon on the Moon. Check price here.
This is usually a short tier that covers the face, and is ceremonially lifted before the couple’s first kiss as husband and wife. A blusher veil can be added to an existing veil for more drama and volume or can be worn alone as well.
6- Classic Oval
Oval shaped veil by LT Lace Veils. Check price here.
This classic oval cut is the most common and flattering shape of the veil, and comes in varying lengths as well. It refers to a veil cut into an oval shape which, when placed on the bride, falls around her in a graceful, cascading style. Many mantilla veils come in oval shapes to add an outline and accentuate the figure of the bride.
Cathedral veil by A Busy Mother. Check price here.
The name speaks for itself – the Cathedral veil has a dramatic form and length (around 120 – 144 inches) and is often paired with a long, formal bridal gown. This is the veil of choice for royal weddings and is usually adorned with intricate lace or beading.
Does your veil have to match your dress?
The secret to creating a cohesive wedding ensemble is in striking the right balance. In this case, your veil doesn’t have to match your dress per se, but it should be able to harmoniously blend with it rather than compete against it. Let’s look at how you should choose from the different veil lengths and fabrics out there according to your dress.
The veil lengths are named according to which part of the body it falls on. See the image below to better visualize the different veil lengths you’ll come across along with their approximate measurements.
Choosing the Best Veil Length
Take a cue from your wedding dress silhouette when choosing the length of your veil.
Ball gown and A-Line: We recommend veils that end above the elbow or below the knee for a dress with a full bodied skirt. A fingertip length veil for instance, may look beautiful in front, but could cut the flow of your dress in an awkward way from the front.
Trumpet and Mermaid: Since these are figure-hugging shapes, choose a veil that will not disrupt the curves of your dress. Go with a floor-length or cathedral veil which flows straight down, or a birdcage style for a chic retro look which does not distract from your sexy silhouette.
Column, Empire, and Sheath: These are minimalist shapes, and almost any length will work with your dress. Try adding a blusher to a fingertip length veil for a bit of volume, but avoid a cathedral veil which is too long and may overpower your dress.
Tea Length: Short veils go with short dresses. Work a short cap veil or birdcage veil for an effortlessly cool look. If you want a little bit more volume, a shoulder length veil could beautifully punctuate your look as well.
Brides want to stand out on their special day and for this, customization is key. If you think veils come in only one type of fabric, you’re in for a pleasant surprise! You can play with different textures for your veil and pick a fabric that will compliment your look and withstand the weather conditions in your venue.
Bridal Illusion and Glimmer Illusion:
Bridal illusion tulle veil by Cassandra Silvestro. Check price here.
These are nylon-made nettings known as tulle, with very fine holes. Most wedding veils are Bridal illusion, which is a high quality, fine tulle that has a matte appearance. Glimmer illusion is the same except it’s shinier and is slightly stiffer. This fabric is great for outdoor and beach weddings as they are not easily weighed down or blown out of shape.
Chiffon veil by Davie and Chiyo. Check price here.
Chiffon is a thin woven fabric that doesn’t have holes like a netting, and thus is opaque. This fabric is a little heavier and flows straight down in a soft, limp manner. It is not advisable for outdoor weddings as it can easily absorb any wetness. It’s a great match for a dress with heavy embellishments and beading.
Like chiffon, organza is a thin woven fabric, but is transparent. It is less limp, and has a slippery texture which is why this could work for any type of weather. This fabric has a shiny appearance, which could be paired with a minimalist dress.
Silk tulle bridal veil by Blossom and Bluebird. Check price here.
This is also a netting fabric but purely made of silk. It is extremely soft but more fragile than most common veil fabrics. It has a gauze-like texture, and is semi-transparent. If you’re wondering what Kate Middleton’s veil was made of, it was this beautiful, light fabric which is rather pricey at roughly $100 per yard.
French netting birdcage veil:
French netting birdcage veil by Leslies Arts. Check price here.
This is another netting fabric, but with large holes. It’s most commonly used for the birdcage style and can be molded or pinned into place as it is quite stiff. It’s great for less formal affairs as it’s quite easy to manage.
Are there any Alternatives to a Wedding Veil?
Brides today are free to make every aspect of the wedding their own. Wedding dresses don’t always come in white, wedding shoes are not always tall and sparkly and veils are optional. If you are looking for an alternative to a veil, try these elegant toppers for size:
Floral crown by MEELLA Official. Check price here.
Floral crowns used to be a flower girl’s accessory, but brides are getting in on this trend too! A gorgeous flower arrangement exudes a youthful and outgoing vibe, perfect for a bohemian or rustic-themed wedding.
A tiara to top off your ballgown dress will surely bring your princess dreams to life. Choose a mini tiara for a subtle sparkle, or go all out with a full-sized one embellished with layers of glittering gems.
Pearl headband by I Fashioned This. Check price here.
A pearl headband will bring a delicate, feminine and dainty touch to your ensemble and goes especially well with a lacey dress. Pair it with drop pearl earrings for a heavenly match!
Do You Even Need a Veil at All?
Through the years, the purpose of the veil has transcended superstition and became more of a fashion statement. It is more common to see brides walk along the aisle with the veil already lifted, compared to the traditional covered bride being presented to the groom as if she were to become his possession after the wedding.
Some brides forego the veil entirely, whether or not they believe that the veil symbolizes virginity. So if you’re questioning whether a veil makes you less of a bride, the answer is no.
Your choice on whether or not to wear a veil depends on your own interpretation of the age-old tradition and preference in fashion.