Wedding veils covering face

9 Veils for Every Type of Bride

We’ve collected 9 different types of veils to adorn your wedding day look.

Few fashion statements are as beautifully timeless as a bride wearing a veil. While some modern brides seek an alternative bridal headpiece, the veil remains the gold standard as the finishing touch to the most important dress you’ll likely ever wear. The right veil is a defining aspect of your bridal ensemble. Once you’ve decided to wear a veil, you’ll need to consider your dress, face shape and hairstyle to make the perfect selection. (Don’t forget your bridesmaids and flower girls: They won’t be donning veils, but their headpieces should harmonize with yours.) Here, we describe nine different types of veils, from the abbreviated birdcage veil to the floor-length chapel veil, and give you an array of choices from Etsy, David’s Bridal, Nordstrom and more.

Birdcage Veil: If you swoon for all things retro, the birdcage veil is the perfect accessory for you. Paired with a bold lip and vintage-inspired accessories, the birdcage veil will make a lasting impression on your groom and your guests. Remember: There is no standard shape or size to a caged veil, so try on a few with your wedding dress to make sure you find one that you love.

Blusher Veil: Do you love the drama and suspense of waiting for your groom to lift your veil? The blusher veil is for you! Not only does this style add volume to an elegant updo, but the blusher veil also is somehow both classic and modern all at once. See more lovely blusher veil inspiration here.

Juliet Cap: Into the bohemian bridal vibe? Try a Juliet cap veil. One of the more historically classic options, this type of veil looks great with your hair down and will have you feeling like something out of a — you guessed it— Shakespeare novel.

Shoulder-Length Veil: This veil is fun and playful — and ideal if you’re committed to having a traditional-looking veil but don’t want it getting in the way of your sweet dance moves. It’s a flirty option that won’t cover up or take away from your gown.

Elbow-Length Veil: Looking to cover your shoulders or frame your face? The elbow-length veil is the best choice. It’s also great for enhancing details around your waist or complementing a hairstyle. Paired with a minimalist dress and your killer smile, your groom won’t be able to take his eyes off of you.

Fingertip Veil: This is the perfect length for a bride who wants a longer veil that isn’t too cumbersome. Feel free to wear this airy accessory with any hairstyle from loose waves to a sleek chignon.

Waltz Veil: Also known as ballet veils, waltz-length veils fall somewhere in between your fingertips and the floor — and are perfect for capturing those dramatic windswept photos you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest. Bonus: They can be easily worn with any hairstyle.

Chapel Veil: A chapel-length veil is typically a little longer than floor length, adding drama and elegance to your walk down the aisle. Keep in mind that a long tulle veil wrinkles easily, so be sure to have it steamed before your wedding day to ensure a smooth, finished look.

Cathedral Veil: Worn at more formal weddings, the cathedral veil is the longest and usually most detailed. Its more traditional history doesn’t mean that you can’t wear it with a floral crown or a modern dress, as shown below. But bear in mind, the longer the veil, the harder it is to move in — so you might want to take it off or switch to a shorter option for the reception.

Credits: Tanis Katie Photography | Intuitive Images Photography | Twah Dougherty | Serephine | Melinda Rose Design | J-Picone | Smith A Menon Bridal | Gilded Shadows | Ashlee Rene Photography | Melinda Rose Design | Lucy Birkhead Photography | Smitten Photography | Jannie Baltzer | Maria Mack | Priscila Valentina | Palm Beach Photography Inc. | Percy Handmade | Bamber Photography | Jennifer Fujikawa Photography | Alixann Loosle Photography | Erica Elizabeth Designs | Kelli Elizabeth | Carlie Statsky Photography | Jose Villa | Maria Hibbs Photography | Tamiz Photography

Why do brides wear veils? (Picture: Getty)

Okay, so we’ve found out why men get down on one knee to propose, why we wear diamond engagement rings, and why brides wear white dresses.

Now’s clearly the time to work out why brides wear massive sheets of chiffon on their head.

We are, of course, talking about the veil. The dramatic, elegant, but probably very irritating in practice veil.

Why do we wear them? What do they mean? And when did they become a thing that all traditional brides would wear?

The truth is, no one’s entirely sure. Veils came into practice at different points in different cultures, and have seen dips and increases in their popularity. But here are the main reasons and theories behind a bride’s NEED to wear a veil.

1. Brides wear veils to ward off demons

(Picture: Getty)

Wedding veils started being a thing in Roman times, when brides were covered from head to toe in a massive red veil called ‘flammeum’.

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Why? Because Romans were scared of evil spirits popping into the ceremony to curse the couple. They thought that making it look like the bride was on fire would scare them off. Makes sense.

This belief eventually progressed into using the veil to confuse spirits, which makes a bit more sense than the fire thing. The Romans figured that by covering up the bride’s face, the spirit wouldn’t be able to make their attack as they wouldn’t be sure who the bride actually was.

2. Brides wear veils to hide their damn face

(Picture: Getty)

From the ashes of the spirit confusion theory rose a new preference for veils being used to hide the bride’s identity. But this time, she wasn’t protecting who she was from spirits – she was trying to keep her face a secret from her groom.

In early weddings when marriages were arranged entirely through fathers, with the bride given away in exchange for money and goods, dads giving away their daughters wanted to hide their face until the last possible minute, so that a less attractive bride wouldn’t spoil the agreement. How sweet.

This eventually got transformed into the ‘cute’ tradition that decrees that men can’t see their bride before the wedding. Romantic, huh?

3. Brides wore veils so they couldn’t run away

(Picture: Getty)

Bustle notes that veils and trains were used to weigh down the bride and prevent them from running away when they met their new husband for the first time.

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4. Brides wear veils to symbolise their virginity

(Picture: Getty)

And their ‘purity’. Agh.

It’s all to do with being covered, and the veil being a thinly veiled (pun intended) reference to the hymen. Veil intact, virginity intact. So you can go right ahead and get wedded.

5. Brides have their veils lifted as a sign of ownership

(Picture: Getty)

Think about it this way: whoever unwraps a present is the owner, right?

So through the ages, tradition has stated that the father of the bride must lower the veil on his daughter’s face, in order to ‘gift’ her to her new husband.

Once they’re about to get married, the husband can then lift the veil, symbolising his new ownership of his bride.

6. Brides wear veils to show that their love is more than skin-deep

(Picture: Getty)

If you still want to wear a veil purely for the prettiness factor, don’t stress. There’s another, non-horrifying reason behind the tradition.

In the Jewish faith, veils are meant to act as a public display that the groom isn’t just marrying his bride because of how she looks.

He’s basically saying ‘I love you so much, I would marry you even if I can’t see your face.’ Aww.

MORE: Watch: Why do the clocks change?

MORE: Colourful smoke bombs are the coolest new wedding trend

MORE: 15 of the weirdest wedding traditions from around the world

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Lifting the Veil: A Handy Guide to Bridal Veils

After a while out in the cold, veils are back in vogue. Birdcage veils dominated the aisles over the last couple of years, while Pippa Middleton, Serena Williams, and Miranda Kerr all rocked long veils last year. So what are your choices if you’re thinking of donning a veil? The options are as varied as wedding dress styles – there are short veils, long veils, birdcage veils, cathedral-length showstoppers and half a dozen more. So we thought it would be useful to create a guide to the different types of wedding veils, outlining the main styles and options, and a few top tips for choosing the right one!

Birdcage veil by Milk and Honey

Birdcage Veil

Birdcage veils are also commonly known as cage veils, face veils, cage blushers, and pouf veils. Shortest of all veils, they may be worn on the front of the face, or cover the entire head. As far as the length goes, the netting may come down to cover one or both eyes, down to the nose or chin, or even cover the entire face, depending on what you feel most comfortable with.

Birdcage veil by Twigs and Honey on Etsy

Blusher Veil

This is another short style of veil, with the veil material falling to the lip line. Many veil lengths incorporate a blusher which can cover the face and then be pushed back to sit on top of the head after the ceremony. Blusher veils can be worn alone with informal dresses or paired with hats for a modern look. If you want to have a go at making your own, Martha Stewart has a handy DIY over on Martha Stewart Weddings.

Ellie veil by Yuri C on Etsy

Flyaway Veil

A short, floaty style with multiple layers of tulle that just sweeps the shoulders, the flyaway veil creates a cute, retro look, very reminiscent of the ’60s. This one is perfect for brides who love vintage style.

Shoulder-length veil by Gilded Shadows

Shoulder-Length Veil

This one is a very simple veil that sits on the shoulders and can be made to look fuller with a blusher. The shoulder-length veil makes for a fairly informal look, again slightly ’60s style. It’s often referred to as the Madonna veil, because it resembles a shroud around the face, but the amount of tulle can range in length from 18″ to 27″, so just about reaching the shoulder or passing the shoulders.

Veil by BHLDN | Image by Flora and Fauna via Brides

Elbow-Length Veil

Slightly longer than the shoulder-length Madonna veil, an elbow-length veil can be a good choice for shorter brides as it spans to the elbow and won’t swamp you in fabric. This one can be informal or formal and can also include a blusher, but often an elbow-length veil is made of plain tulle with a lace, embroidered or contrast edging, as in the above example.

Fingertip veil by Twigs and Honey

Fingertip Veil

Taller brides can carry off this style, which looks very elegant and veers towards more formal styles. The veil just reaches the end of your outstretched fingertips and floats around you almost like a cape. This veil was hugely popular during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Fingertip veils are often more embellished, so if choosing one, make sure to consider the style of your wedding dress.

Juliet Cap veil by Elibre

Juliet Cap Veil

A Juliet Cap is a small open-work crocheted or mesh cap, often decorated with pearls, beads or jewels. The cap can be worn alone or as part of a longer veil, and is perfect if you’re looking to ooze 1920s, Gatsby-esque glam.

Custom veil by Wilde by Design

Mantilla

This Spanish-style Mantilla veil is often made of lace and usually trimmed with lace and embroidery. It drapes over the head to varying lengths from elbow to waltz, and is oh-so-romantic!

Waltz-length veil by Yuri C on Etsy

Ballet Veil

Also known as the waltz or walking veil, the ballet veil doesn’t quite hit the floor, allowing you to dance without tripping yourself up! Typically, the tulle ends somewhere between the knee and the ankle.

Cathedral veil by Erica Elizabeth

Cathedral Veil

The most formal of all veils, cathedral veils are designed to be worn with a full gown with a cathedral length train and to extend well past the end. This veil can reach up to around 144 inches long and is typically worn in a formal church setting for a dramatic walk down a long aisle. If you opt for this style, make sure the rest of your gown is strong enough to support it!

Custom Slogan Veil by Crown & Glory

Our Top Tips for Choosing your Bridal Veil

  • The veil must not compete with the dress. It should be worn as a finishing touch, but it’s not the main event. A heavily embroidered veil should be paired with a simple, unembellished dress, and vice versa.
  • Consider your day – are you having a relaxed festival-style wedding or a glamorous formal affair? The style of veil that you choose should remain consistent with the formality of your wedding.
  • How long you plan on wearing the veil can also dictate how long it should be. If you’re planning on wearing it for the ceremony only, go ahead and get a head-turner like Lady Di’s, but if you plan to wear your veil until the party’s over, you will need a more functional piece.
  • Make sure to pick a hair style that will both accentuate and support the veil, and don’t forget to bring it to your hair trial! Accessory designer extraordinaire Debra Moreland has some great tips on veil placement over on BHLDN.com – click here to have a read!

Featured image credit: Craig & Eva Sanders via One Fab Day

Still putting the finishing touches on your look? Head to the accessories section of our Wedding Book to find gorgeous jewellery, headpieces and cover-ups!

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I’ve always been drawn to period movies, especially ones that take place in The Renaissance. Whats more, there is something unique about bridal headpieces (hair chains, hair vines and hair halos) that makes them emit a romantic, medieval feeling. My mind wanders to visions of fair maidens adorned with enchanting ribbons, along with headpieces perfectly placed in long flowing locks.

Totally up my bridal alley.

If you think about it, even Greek goddesses are portrayed as riding the same fashion bandwagon. It’s unfortunate that this headpiece trend never really made a come back in modern times, as I adore the look.

Great news! A bride’s wedding day is one rare occasion when it is perfectly acceptable to wear whichever headpiece you choose! Go wild and place a tiara or flowers crown on your head, add a hair comb, vine or hair chains. Or, if you want to fair-maiden-it-up with a statement bridal headpiece, this is your chance to do so without anyone looking at you strangely.

Doting eyes will be doing a double take and remark on the gorgeous headpiece you’ve chosen, wishing that they could incorporate it into their own ‘do on a regular basis!

Bridal Headpieces Alternatives

In the same way that not every woman wants a solitaire diamond in a gold setting, a classic veil is not for every bride. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite bridal hair chains, hair vines, and hair halos headpieces that make perfect alternatives to wearing the traditional veil.

Bridal Hair Chains

With so many styles available, bridal hair chains work beautifully with different bridal styles like the city glam bride to boho bride. Hair chains are versatile in the way that they can be worn across your forehead or in the back of your head. Depending on how you wear your hair style, you can change the look drastically.

Celebrities like Alicia Keys, Camila Alves and Kim Kardashian sported chains across their forehead with their hair tightly pulled back. We absolutely fell in love with the way Fergie chose to accent her wavy curls with a crown of chains in the back. She looked like a modern day fairy tale princess!

Tip: If you are going to wear your hair down with a hair chain, make sure to give your hair a tease underneath so that you can secure the headpiece in place.

Be aware that depending on which chain you choose, your wedding day look can appear dated. If you’re looking for something a little different, a bridal hair chain is a great way to add a little unexpected bling to your overall style.

1. Draped V Headpieces

by danani

This lovely double V draped headpiece brings modern day Zelda to mind. Accent your elaborately coiffed hair with this stunning piece or adorn it across your forehead for a dramatic look. Danani’s unique piece will add a beautiful finishing touch without overpowering your hairstyle.

2. Draped Hair Comb

by Lottie Da Designs

A hair chain that seamlessly pulls 1920’s vintage and boho chic together. The small side accents are placed on combs allowing you to drape this piece from the front or the back.

3. Ripple Headpiece

by danani

A stunning rippled piece that gives off that 1920’s movie star at her finest vibe. Change it up a bit by wearing the cascading ripples to the side, which adds a soft yet bold statement.

4. ‘Lula’ Embellished Hair Chain

by hushedcommotion

Add a little boho feel to your bridal attire with this beautiful chain cap that has strands of glittering silver or gold.

5. Silver Pearl Bridal Hair Chain

by LottieDaDesigns

If you are going for a vintage feel and want to wear a hair chain in your locks, then nothing says vintage more than these enchanting draped strands of pearls.

6. Pearl Browband

by HairFloaters

An elegant statement piece that provides a dramatic accent to any bride’s up-do.

Bridal Hair Vines

Hair vines make the perfect hair accessory because they are flexible and can be styled into many different hairstyles. Also, they’re comfortable to wear and easily pinned into place.

Choose to add a hair vine around a bridal bun, weave it through a braid, wear at the top of your head like a headband, or for an even more dramatic look, wear them across your forehead. There are plenty of style combinations.

1. Wedding Hair Vine

by Powder Blue Bijoux

A delicate floral hair vine that’s absolutely exquisite. It would suite an outdoor garden wedding or a fancier venue with a vintage vibe.

2. Lace Headpiece

by Powder Blue Bijoux

We love that all these different headpieces come in so many types of materials, and that no two are the same! For example, take the stunning piece above, which is handmade from lace and embellished with lovely rhinestones. We can envision an outdoor summer wedding in full bloom to show off this wonderful lace headpiece.

3. Starfish Bridal Hair Vine

by TopGracia

Any Ariel lovers out there? How about destination beach brides-to-be? This romantic starfish hair vine has mermaid hair written all over it … and we are in love with it!

4. Baby’s Breath Crystal Hair Vine

by Twigs & Honey

Weaving this sparkly strand through your tresses will take your braid from everyday wear and make it into a romantic and enchanting bridal worthy ‘do.

5. Pearl Hair Vine

by Biano Accessories

An elegant pearl vine from Biano is the perfect hair accessory for a bride who wants to stay within the parameters of classic bride, but wants to have a little fun with a beautiful hair accessory as well.

Bridal Halos

The day you’ve dreamed about since you were little is nearly upon you. And the princess inside you wants to shine for all the world to see, without the help of some tacky sweet sixteen tiara. Rather, crown your head with an enchanting bridal halo and rock it with either loose flowing curls or an up ‘do hairstyle.

1. Rhea Halo with Combs

by Brides & Hairpins

An elegant hair halo with freshwater pearls nestle amidst branch-like sprays of marquise crystals and plated in gleaming 14-karat gold, paired with a chigon bun couldn’t get any more royal looking if you tried. Love the Roman wreath look – I would wear this piece nearly everyday if society didn’t have such silly rules!

2. Gold leaf Halo

by Agnes Hart

A pretty headpiece featuring delicate gold feathers in gold-plated brass will decorate any boho bridal ‘up-do’ beautifully.

3. Vineyard Halo

by AA Bridal

A delicate bridal halo to add just that light touch of freshwater pearls and sparkling rhinestones, secured with a ribbon.

4. Freshwater Pearl Wreath Halo

by Joanna Reed Bridal

A striking adornment meant to sit around the back of your head. A pleasant surprise for any guest to see when you turn your head.

5. Grecian Hair Wreath

by Lottie Da Designs

Bring out your inner Grecian goddess with this stunning silver flower and leaf hair halo.

Don’t forget to accessorize for your wedding reception!

Most brides end up taking their veil off after the ceremony and leave their beautiful tresses with the style their hairdresser crafted that morning. If you can’t decide between a headpiece or a veil, why not choose both?

Wear the veil for your ceremony, and then have your hairpiece on standby to wear during the reception.

Which bridal headpiece style will you be wearing on your big day?

First off, let’s say that you don’t have to wear a veil. Although around 65% of brides do, that’s a big percentage that don’t.

So if you’re not comfortable with the idea, then that’s fine. You could wear a diamanté headpiece, a fabulous fascinator (Vivien Sheriff has some wonderful pieces designed especially for brides). However, we always think you should keep an open mind when wedding dress shopping. So go on, try on a few bridal veils (at least a birdcage) and see what the effect is. You never know.

The veil you finally decide on will depend on the style of dress you’ve chosen, the shape of your face, how you’re going to wear your hair and the venue in which you’re getting married.

Traditionally the bride walks down the aisle with her face covered by the veil and then lifts it up as she stands by the side of her groom – the part of the veil covering the face is called the ‘blusher’.

Continue reading below…

Whatever kind of a bride you are – whether traditional or a bit more boho – there’s a wedding veil style for you, whether it’s a cutesie birdcage number or a dramatic and regal cathedral length design. Take a look at this clip showing the different designs available…

If you’re having a traditional ceremony in an imposing venue…

You might like to do the full works and have a 144-inch long cathedral length veil if you’re planning a ceremony in a large venue or 126-inch chapel length that will glide dramatically behind you as you walk down the aisle.

Think about your style of dress as well – if the back of your gown has a train and a lot of embellishment (like bows) then this will be hidden by a cathedral length veil unless it is very sheer and simple.

You’re also going to need to be in the right place to carry off this kind of a look – if you’re getting married in a register office or on a beach then it’s going to appear out of place.

Whilst a full length veil is beautiful and lends a sense of drama to the occasion, it’s also an accessory that you’re going to have to keep an eye on – on your way out of your wedding venue and as you get into the car. Your bridesmaids will also have to arrange your veil properly for you when you have your pictures taken.

That said, we do love a long veil and if you’ve spent your whole life dreaming of the moment that your young attendants carry your draped veil behind you, then this is your moment to go for it!

And if you want a veil but something a little less formal…

Think about a finger-tip (72-inch) or floor length veil (108-inch) if you want something a little more subtle. These are a little more practical than longer veils but still look pretty and delicate.

This might be a good option for you if you’re wearing a very detailed dress, with a lot of beading and decoration.

We like this type of veil for brides who want a touch of tradition as they go to meet their groom – and think this would work perfectly if you’re getting married in a conservatory or having a barn style wedding ceremony.

Think about your neckline

If you choose your wedding dress for the design on the bodice or if that’s a feature you particularly want to show off, then consider a shoulder or waist length veil that won’t detract from this area – in fact it will draw the eye there.

These veils are both pretty and practical – they’re easy to manage but you’re still going to look bridal as you walk down the aisle.

What about brides rocking a retro style?

If you’re really not a traditional wedding dress kind of a girl and you’ve chosen a ballerina length or knee length frock – we’re thinking 1950s-inspired style here – then consider a shoulder length or birdcage veil.

It will balance the full skirts of your dress and give you that vintage look you’re after.

All in the detail

Wedding veils are designed in many different styles with different patterns and edging. We’ve seen veils with sequins, diamanté details, intricate embroidery as well as the simplest lengths of voile. (We’ve also seen ostrich-trimmed veils which we think would look fabulous with a Great Gatsby style wedding dress).

Our advice to you? Go and see what’s out there, see what will work with your wedding gown and enjoy the journey! You might like to see the other tips we’ve written on choosing a bridal veil

And as ever, you can join in the conversation with your fellow brides-to-be on our Wedding Ideas Forum and there’s one going on right now all about veils