How to Choose Your Perfect Veil
— By Lorna Urwin
12 April 2017
It’s amazing how a simple layer of tulle or lace can transform and complete a bridal look and as your wedding is the only day in your life that you can get away with a veil, it’s well worth embracing this once-in-a-lifetime accessory. If you’re thinking about wearing one for your big day, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know below!
Why wear a veil?
Image by Mint Photography
Traditionally veils have had an array of functions, from warding off evil spirits and concealing the bride from being seen before the wedding to simple modesty. Today veils are by no means universally worn, but for many brides, that classic sweep of sheer fabric represents a time-honoured tradition while also bestowing a distinctively bridal quality. They can also make for some gorgeous, ethereal photo opportunities! While they may not be for every bride, it’s always worth trying a couple of styles on before making a firm decision.
What are the main veil options?
There’s a lot of specific terminologies used when discussing veil types. We’ve included a very brief overview of each style here, but if you’d like an even more thorough guide to our 7 favourites check out this article!
Images by Scott Stater Photography and Sara Weir
Usually, a net veil worn over the face, the birdcage is arguably the vintage veil, exuding plenty of 1940s glamour.
A gorgeous Spanish style made of a circle of lace (or lace-edged tulle), the veil elegantly frames the bride’s face.
Images by Kyle John Photography and Winsome and Wright
Blushers are shorter veils worn forwards to cover the face for a delicate and mysterious yet demure look. They can be worn as a stand-alone piece or along with a longer veil as part of a two-tiered design.
As its name suggests, Elbow veils fall to the elbow. This style makes for a really wearable length.
Images by Carrie King Photographer and Alexandra Grace Photography
Another veil conveniently named for its length, these extend to the bride’s fingertips, just above the knee. This length is regarded as universally flattering, making it a very popular choice!
Waltz / Ballet
A longer veil that falls beneath the knee but above the ankle, the Waltz or Ballet style is so called because it allows for dancing without worrying about tripping!
Images by Carmen Santorelli Photography and Marina Koslow Photography
Another longer and traditionally quite a formal style, this time the veil does extend to the floor, usually to the hem of the bride’s gown or a little further. The length adds drama, but it’s lower maintenance than a veil with a long train.
As long and dramatic as you can get! Cathedral veils are named because the statement they make is best suited to a grand venue. These are particularly well matched to dresses with trains.
Decide your dress, hairstyle and headpiece preferences first
Image by Sophie Epton Photography
Naturally, if you’re borrowing a veil from a loved one or you’re especially excited about the veil, there’s every reason to organise that first. For most brides, however, it’s a good idea to make finding the wedding dress the priority! That way you can ensure that the veil suits the dress rather than vice versa. The same is true for your hairstyle and headpiece (whether barrette, comb, tiara or flower crown), though your commitment to these tends to be more flexible.
Once you have those things sorted, seek advice from stylists at your dress boutique for veils that might complement your chosen look and take to Pinterest or Google to explore inspiration from other brides with similar dresses or hairstyles!
Consider the following factors when trying on veils
Image by Patina Photography
Once you have some ideas, put your dress on and try out different options! Here are a few tips for choosing the perfect veil:
Complement your dress fabric and shape
If your gown is rich in detail and embellishment, consider whether you’d prefer a plainer veil (and vice versa!). You may also want to make sure the veil is sheer enough and the right length to fully showcase the design. The structure, volume and shape can be important too, but there are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes it’s best to work with a style (e.g. pairing a flowing veil with a softer dress silhouette), but sometimes contrasting styles can work to great effect (e.g. a voluminous veil paired with a slim-fitting dress).
Image by KT Merry Photography
Complement your face shape
If you have a narrow face, choose a veil with volume and width to balance the overall look. The opposite is true if you have a rounder face, which can be better suited to straighter veils – these create a narrowing effect in the way they frame the face.
Be mindful of veil length and where the veil ends
Veil length and the point where it cuts across your silhouette are significant when deciding whether or not a style is flattering. When trying on the veil, make sure it isn’t adding unwanted additional width to your hips or otherwise drawing attention to any parts of your body you’d rather it didn’t.
Check different angle
Remember to assess the veil from all angles, not just from the front! You’ll want to see how it falls and how it affects a variety of dress details (e.g. the back of the dress, any embellishments or details in the cut of the dress)
Image by Avodah Photography
Consider the venue
Your venue can have an impact on style decisions too. After all, some veils are named with specific settings in mind (Cathedral and Chapel). Similarly, think about the practicalities of the veil you choose and consider how it might be affected by, e.g. riding in a car or strong wind. These issues aren’t necessarily deal-breakers, but they’re worth bearing in mind.
Happy veil shopping!