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How to Choose a Bridal Veil

Updated on November 23, 2011
Cathedreal Length Bridal Veil
Cathedreal Length Bridal Veil

Once a bride has chosen her perfect wedding gown, the next step is to choose a bridal veil. The veil is a very important characteristic of the look that a bride wishes to present. For some brides, choosing the right veil is just as difficult as choosing a gown.

How to Wear a Wedding Veil

History of the Bridal Veil

History has passed down several different origins for bridal veils. One story has the veil hailing from Rome where they believed that evil spirits would attack the bride, so she wore a veil to cover her face and confuse them. Another has the veil originating during medieval times where it was worn to protect the bride from the “evil eye”. It has been said that a bridal veil was a symbol of modesty, chastity and purity. In times when marriages were arranged, the veil was said to be worn to conceal the bride’s face until after the marriage so the groom could not back out if he did not find her attractive.

Today, veils are more than just a traditional covering or protective shroud. Bridal veil styles have evolved to enhance the bride’s features and dress style. The veil is now able to match the personality of the bride as well as a wedding theme. In fact, there are so many styles and embellishments that it can sometimes be a daunting task to find the perfect veil.

Birdcage Bridal Veil

WHITE Birdcage Veil & Flower Feather Fascinator Comb
WHITE Birdcage Veil & Flower Feather Fascinator Comb

Bridal Hairstyles

The bride’s hairstyle will also impact the type of wedding veil that can be worn. It is a good idea for brides to have their hair done in the style that will be worn to the wedding when they shop for veils. Certain hairstyles will not offer enough support for longer veils or those with multiple layers. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Supportive up-dos will be able to support heavy head pieces or longer veils with more than one layer.
  • The popular half up-dos can support moderate length veils as well as moderately heavy head pieces.
  • Hairstyles where the hair is all down will need lighter designs that are shorter.
  • Birdcage style veils work well with most hairstyles.

Bridal Veil Styles Should Coordinate with Gown Styles

The first consideration in choosing a veil style is the dress. An elaborate gown is best showcased with a simple veil; while a simple, elegant gown can be paired with a more ornate veil. The veil length can also be useful in highlighting details of the dress that the bride would like to show off.

  • A long sheer veil in a single layer can be used to showcase the focal details of a dress with an ornate back.
  • A dress with an ornately embellished bodice would do well paired with a veil that is shoulder length.
  • Birdcage veils are a sassy way to enhance simple or vintage gowns.

Fingertip Length Bridal Veil

Ivory 2 Tier Fingertip Length Swarovski Crystal Rhinestones Veil Bridal Wedding
Ivory 2 Tier Fingertip Length Swarovski Crystal Rhinestones Veil Bridal Wedding

Body Shape

Different bridal veil styles can be used to help hide or “correct” problem body areas. The right veil can enhance the figure, while a veil that is all wrong can draw attention to a less than perfect body. Some points to consider:

  • Veils that are fingertip length or longer will elongate the body and help camouflage a tummy pooch or minimize large breasts.
  • Shoulder, waist and elbow length veils will draw attention to the upper body and away from the hips and a pear shaped figure.
  • Fuller figured women should stick with single tier veils and those in the narrower widths as the added material of multiple layers and wider veils can add unwanted bulk to the bride.
  • Longer veils tend to make short women appear shorter.

Mantilla Bridal Veil

Mantilla, shoulder length bridal veil
Mantilla, shoulder length bridal veil

Facial Shape

Since veils will typically frame the face it is important to consider how the veil styles will affect this. Some tips to ensure the veil flatters the bride:

Fuller faces benefit from veils that are full on top and at least shoulder length. This will elongate the face and give a slimmer appearance. These brides should avoid veils with fullness at the face, as this could accentuate a round face shape.

  • Oval faces are considered to be well proportioned and can usually wear any veil style.
  • A square face, one that is more angular and wide, will benefit from cascading bridal veil styles that are shoulder length or longer. Fullness at the crown will also add some height and slim the face down.
  • A rectangle, one that is long and angular, face will benefit from more fullness around the face. Shorter veil styles that are fuller tend to soften the angles and add width to the face.

Fingertip Bridal Veil with Pearls and Lace

David's Bridal Fingertip Veil with Pearl Embellished Alencon Lace Style VCRL538
David's Bridal Fingertip Veil with Pearl Embellished Alencon Lace Style VCRL538

Bridal Veil Lengths

Lengths of veils will depend on the desires of the bride as well as her height. There are some industry standards that can be applied for lengths, however a bridal veil will need to be custom made and fitted to the bride’s body and dress. In general, lengths can be judges thusly:

  • Short veils do not extend below the chin. Birdcage veils and visor veils fit into this category, as do fascinators.
  • Shoulder length veils are usually around 20 inches long and fall just around the shoulders.
  • Elbow length veils will fall around the elbow and are usually about 25 inches long.
  • Waist length veils fall between the waist and hip area, and they are roughly 30 inches long.
  • Fingertip length veils fall to the fingertip and the arms hang down at the sides. These veils are usually around 36 inches in length.
  • Knee length veils fall around the knees and are approximately 45 inches long.
  • Floor length veils, which are sometimes called ballet length, will just kiss the floor and are about 72 inches long. Of course, the length will depend on the bride’s height in her wedding shoes.
  • Chapel length veils will pool onto the floor and are generally about 90 inches long.
  • Cathedral length veils are the longest veils and will trail along the floor. These veils are at least 120 inches long and can be as long as desired.

Bridal Veil Tiers

In general, a bride can choose from one to three tiers in her veil. The number of tiers will most often be dictated by the style of gown. Some guidelines for number of tiers are:

  • A one tiered veil has a very sophisticated air and works well with refined styles that have clean lines.
  • A two tiered veil has a classic feel and works well with traditional dress styles.
  • A three tiered veil has a very romantic aura and works well with the princess style gowns.
  • Birdcage veils will have a very short single tier that is usually made from French netting. This style is decidedly sassy and bold.

Waist Length Bridal Veil with Pearls and Lace

Wedding Bridal Veil, Pearl Beaded & Lace, 1 Layer
Wedding Bridal Veil, Pearl Beaded & Lace, 1 Layer

Bridal Veil Edging

The edging on a bridal veil can completely change the feel and look of any veil style. Again, the style of the dress will dictate the types of edging that would be suitable. There are many different ways to embellish the edges of the veil, here are a few examples:

  • Plain edged with a straight or scalloped cut.
  • Pencil edged, sometimes called embroidered edge, is the smallest finishing hem.
  • Satin ribbon can be used as edging and commonly comes in widths from 1/16” to 1”.
  • Satin cord edging, sometimes called rattail edging.
  • Rhinestone bands can be applied to the edges for added bling.
  • Crystals and crystal bands can be used along the edges.
  • Seed beads can be applied along the veil edges.
  • Lace can also be used and it comes in many different styles and textures.

Wedding Location

Consideration should be given to the wedding venue when selecting a bridal veil. While personality and dress style are very important, a veil can look a little out of place if the venue is completely opposite the veil and dress styles. A few hints to keep in mind:

  • Cathedral length bridal veils are at exquisite in a large cathedral wedding with many attendants in the wedding party. However, this style of veil could be really out of place for an intimate beach wedding or an outdoor garden ceremony.
  • Chapel length veils are perfectly suited to smaller churches where space does not permit a long trailing cathedral length.
  • Outdoor weddings usually call for waist length or shorter veils. There is less chance of the veil getting dirty or snagged. There is also the wind to consider; even a small breeze can blow the veil across the bride’s face for the entire ceremony. Birdcage veils and fascinators are great for these venues.
  • The climate is another consideration. In areas where the weather is humid and sticky, several long tiers can become a sweaty, sticky mess in no time.

With so many different choices of bridal veil styles, brides can find the perfect veil to compliment not only her gown, but her personality and body type as well. The veil is the crowning touch to the bridal ensemble and should be given just as much consideration as the gown.


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    • Vicki99 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      Thank you ladies.I had a terrible time finding the right veil when I got married and actually wound up making my own.

    • Cloverleaf profile image


      6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Awesome hub, and great tips on finding the right bridal veil. Well done!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      I love the photos of the different veils. Good points made.


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