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To the uninitiated, choosing a veil seems rather straightforward. We soon learn, however, that the veil can be one of the hardest decisions. Short or long? How short? How long? How many tiers? What shape? Blusher or not? Edging or not? If so, what kind? What color? Embellishments? Shimmer? The choices seem endless. Veil length is one of the most important factors in how a veil looks, so it’s best to begin there. (Click/tap on each veil name in the text below to see examples to browse or buy.)
You can have a veil customized to any length, but many veils are described in reference to where they fall on the body (shoulder, elbow, or fingertip for example). Where the veil actually falls will depend on your height and where you attach it.
To find out how long your veil should be, stand straight and have someone measure you from where you will attach it to where you want the longest tier to fall. This will give you an idea of the length of veil you are looking for.
The shorter veils are typically between 18 and 50 inches long and fall somewhere from shoulder to fingertip. Longer veils can range in length from the waltz veil (falling down the back to below the knee and above the floor) to the royal veil, trailing up to five or six feet behind the bride. But don’t get too caught up in veil names, as lengths can vary depending on the source. What’s important is choosing a veil that falls where you want it to. Veil length terminology you may find while shopping are listed below.
Shoulder length. This veil is sometimes called a flyaway when there are multiple layers. It is commonly around 20 inches long, but can range from 18 to 30 inches, depending on where you purchase it. The shoulder veil works well when you want to show off the back of a gown. Although this length is a bit out of favor at this writing, it is traditionally worn at informal and daytime weddings.
Elbow length. This veil generally ranges from 25 to 36 inches long and should end below a low backline but above the top of the skirt. The elbow length looks good with gowns with no train or those with a full skirt.
Fingertip or wrist length veils. These veils range in length from 36 to 50 inches, depending upon where they are designed to fall, and are versatile, as they can be worn with both short and long gowns.
Knee, waltz or ballet length veil. These veils fall somewhere between the knee and ankle, with knee length generally 45 inches. The waltz or ballet length is usually 54 to 60 inches long and falls between the calf and ankle.
Chapel or floor length veil. This veil reaches the floor and may fall six inches or more past the train. It is usually tiered and ranges from 60 to 90 inches long. It is considered a formal veil, appropriate for formal and semi-formal weddings, although some like these for beach weddings for the dramatic effect when caught in the ocean breeze.
Cathedral or royal veil. This is a dramatically formal veil, trailing up to two feet or more behind the bride. The length ranges from 96 to 132 inches or longer and looks stunning with a cathedral train gown.
While the length can be considered a style, there are a few styles based on structure-related features. You may find these when researching your veil:
Birdcage veil. This veil is very short (just long enough to frame the face) and worn alone, without additional tiers or a separate blusher. The birdcage is generally made of coarse Russian-style netting rather than typical fine-mesh veil fabrics. Most brides attach this short, circular veil to a fascinator, ornamental comb, or headband for a more decorative effect.
Blusher. Depending on the context, the blusher is either a short face veil, such as the birdcage described above, or the portion of a longer veil that covers your face during the ceremony. The length of the latter generally ranges from very short to shoulder-length or longer. Standard length is about 18-25 inches but longer blushers are also attractive.
Mantilla. This is a one-layer, circular veil with a scalloped edge, often made of lace. The mantilla is most often worn so the lace edges softly frame your face and upper body. Or, for a blusher effect, attach the center of the veil to the crown of your head so the front hangs around your face. Folded back, the veil will create two layers.
Tiered veils. A tiered veil is one with more than a single layer. Because each layer adds thickness, more tiers generally equal more volume, so choose with the overall effect in mind. While four-tier veils exist and are useful to add visual interest or balance out a relatively simple gown, double- and triple- tier veils are most common.