Wedding Veils 101
If we were to name a single item that announces “BRIDE!” to the world it would have to be a veil. So we compiled a bit of our research into a primer on all things veil for you. After all these beautifully flimsy, sheer bits of tulle and net which manage to symbolize brides so perfectly have a long history.
Veils are actually the oldest part of the bridal ensemble according to wedding expert Susan Waggoner in her book I do! I do!: The Origins of 100 Classic Wedding Traditions. The practice of covering a bride’s face dates way-way back when brides were wrapped “from head to toe to represent the delivery of a modest and untouched maiden.” In those days veils were also believed to protect brides from evil spirits lurking around. They further served to shield the bride’s face from the groom prior to the wedding, because they believed it was bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. Veils at that time really did their job. Brides couldn’t even see to walk with their heavy face coverings. That’s why someone had to literally walk them down the aisle!!! We love that times have changed but the best part of the traditions remain!
As weddings became more religious in Western culture, the veil was used to symbolize modesty, obedience, and chastity. Eventually, though, veils fell out of fashion. For example, during the 17th and 18th centuries, brides didn’t really wear them in the United States and England. However, when the inimitable style icon and original fashionista Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in 1840 wearing an insanely gorgeous veil, they instantly regained popularity.
To this day brides love to wear veils. And as bridal stylists, we know that nothing brings out the happy tears from brides and their squads during the dress shopping experience like adding a veil in the mix. There is just something so romantic and ethereal about veils. Luckily today’s veils come in all kinds of gorgeous shapes, sizes, and styles. Most brides no longer wear veils for any particular symbolic reason but just ‘cuz they look so darn pretty.
Veils are carefully composed of fabulous fabrics such as chiffon, organza, English net or silk tulle. They come embellished with beading, lavish lace appliques, piped trim or serenely unadorned and simple.
Veils come in various lengths, too, and most are named for the body part they end near.
Bird Cage Veils are vintage-inspired, short and uber flirty. These veils are the perfect finishing touch for retro-minded brides rocking any vibe from the 20s through the 60s. They are usually between 4-9 inches long. Typically they just cover the eyes, but they can cover your entire face too. Also called a “bandeau” veil, this style is most often composed of Russian net or lace.
Shoulder veils which fall to a bride’s shoulders usually have a layer that goes over the bride’s face called a blusher. During the ceremony, the front layer is pulled back to reveal the brides beaming face. (Any length veil can have a blusher layer to go over the face too.) TaDa! Such a magic moment!
Elbow length veils are perfect for a more traditional wedding ceremony. They fall gracefully over a bride’s shoulders to her elbows.
Fingertip veils reach the tips of a bride’s fingers, about hip-length. This style is popular with brides because the length allows the back of a dress to be seen. So many bridal gowns these days have such amazing backs!
Designed to fall at your knee, this wedding veil length offers drama and elegance without weighing you down. If you choose to wear your veil for your reception, you’ll be able to dance the night away, thus the name “waltz.”
A chapel or floor-length veil just grazes the floor and extends just barely beyond the length of the bride’s gown. The flowing fabric is nice for brides who want the look of a train without having one on their dress.
For a dramatic down-the-aisle look consider a fabulous cathedral-length veil. This extends beyond the length of the wedding dress and commands “oohs and aahs” from your guests. And they look just right in a cathedral.
Anything over 120″ in length is generally reserved for royalty, veil-wise. Megan slayed.
Ok, so there are a few people who like to go larger than life with things. Respect. So If you really want to go big with your veil you will have to compete with Maria Paraskeva, a bride from Cyprus, who achieved her lifelong dream after creating the world’s Longest wedding veil in preparation for her wedding. She wore it on August 14, 2018. Her veil was sooo long she actually made it into Guinness World Records. With this length veil, you’re probably gonna need an outdoor venue. And a lot of help.
The seemingly never-ending lace veil measured 22,843 ft 2.11 in. (basically 63.5 football fields long!!!!). You go Girl!!!
Whatever gorgeous veil you select to wear on your wedding day, we hope you enjoyed learning a little about the history behind the tradition. We know you’ll wear it well. And if you are looking for the perfect style remember to stop by The Gilded Gown to shop our extensive selection of veils.