Despite their beautiful, intricate designs and popularity today, wedding veils have a history that stems far beyond a fashion statement. They are the oldest part of the bridal ensemble, dating back to ancient Rome when brides were wrapped head-to-toe to represent the delivery of a modest and untouched maiden. They were also meant to hide the bride from evil spirits who might want to thwart her happiness. In arranged marriages, veils once signified the desire to hide the bride’s face from the groom.
By the 18th century, women began moving away from veils and their attached traditions. Brides began wearing wreaths, garlands, caps, bonnets, tiaras, and accented pieces with jewels, lace, and ribbon. This remained the popular fashion until Queen Victoria became the first modern monarch to be married in a veil—a beautiful, cascading veil that became a timeless and iconic ensemble that defined bridal fashion for centuries to come. After the royal wedding, the beloved veil became the most popular bridal accessory once again and remains to be today.
Veil Styles: How to Choose the Perfect One
Choosing a veil can be tough, so it’s good to know the different styles and how they pair with different bridal looks. You have a few options:
More than 100 inches of fabric flowing from the comb makes the cathedral veil trail gracefully behind your dress’s train as you move. It makes a classic, regal statement and can pair with nearly every dress.
Mid-length veils include elbow-length, fingertip, and walking veils, and are the perfect length to flatter your silhouette by outlining your upper body. These veils are versatile and provide a more traditional look, although they can also work with alternative bridal styles, like tea-length dresses.
A birdcage veil is made with fishnet-patterned tulle and is attached to either a headband or a comb, juxtaposed just right to show only half of your face. The vintage flair styles perfectly with tea-length, mini, and cocktail dresses, and sleek jumpsuits.
Traditional brides are drawn to this bust-grazing swathe of tulle, designed to conceal the face during the walk down the aisle for a big, romantic reveal. This short veil is often attached to a longer veil that flows down your back, which makes it versatile and easy for you to pair it with different styles of dresses.
Timeless and sophisticated, the circular, Spanish-style mantilla veil features tulle with delicate lace trim. Using a hidden comb to hold it in place, the veil is softly draped over your head to frame your face with the lace pattern. Mantilla veils are available in different lengths, from fingertip all the way through to cathedral length, which means you can try this style with different dresses.
Today, sans-veil is becoming a bridal fashion statement of its own. If you decide a veil isn’t your style, you can choose other accessories, like tiaras, headbands, or a unique embellished headpiece. Some brides skip all the accessories and wear a dress with a dramatic, long train.
Important Things to Consider…
If you decide to wear a veil, there are a few very important things to keep in mind as you shop around and choose the right style for your bridal look.
There’s a whole range of shades beyond white, including other classic colors like ivory, champagne, and whisper pink. Ivory veils pair beautifully with dresses in soft tones like blush and powder blue.
The Back of Your Dress
If your gown has a dramatic open back, lace detail, or other embellishments, don’t hide it under too many layers of tulle or heavy fabric. A super-sheer veil is perfect to pair with these kinds of dresses because it reveals the unique accents of the dress.
Details and Accessories
If you’re wearing a headpiece or any sort of hair accessory, match it with a simple veil so the two don’t distract from each other. Likewise, don’t choose a veil with intricate details if it will clash with any details on your dress. Any trim or beading on your veil doesn’t have to be a perfect match to your dress’s details, but it’s a beautiful touch when they complement each other.
Once you’ve found your veil and accessories, schedule time with your hairstylist and share your vision using pictures of style inspiration. If you’ve chosen accessories, explore unique ways you can incorporate them into different looks. If you’re wearing a simple veil, the comb has to go in your hair in a certain spot—your stylist should know where to put it so it will stay secure. If you want to remove the veil at any point, make sure you tell your stylist so they know to make it easily removable without affecting your hairstyle.
If you’re wearing a veil for your big day, have fun and make it a beautiful statement piece. Gather your inspiration and visit our partners at the Dress Shop to explore different styles. Call ahead for an appointment 517-546-3600—the stylists will help you find the perfect veil to complement your dream dress!