Wedding veil lengths and types are many. And the right combination of features can instantly complete your bridal look.
The wedding veil is one of the most iconic pieces in a wedding. But sometimes it’s importance can be easily overlooked. Here are definitions and considerations to help you decide on the perfect veil.
Wedding Veil Decisions
To the uninitiated, all the different wedding veil lengths and types can be overwhelming. Especially if you are going to make a wedding veil. What wedding veil you should wear is a decision unique to you. But there are considerations. But first, there are a couple more overarching concepts you may want to ponder.
Why Wear a Wedding Veil?
The first is, why do you want to wear a wedding veil at all? If you love the look, that is your answer.
But you may also want to consider tradition. The wearing of a white veil by the bride has many possible origins. It is thought to predate the wedding dress by centuries.
Traditionally it was worn, in part, because it was believed to be bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding. Over time ceremonies changed and became more religious. The veil became a symbol of purity and modesty, much like the white dress.
Wedding attire mimicked current fashion until the mid-1900s, with veils coming and going. Today, the veil is a well-known and often expected piece of the bridal ensemble. Whatever its origin, brides wear the veil as a symbol of joy and beauty.
Planning Your Look
A lot goes into planning your wedding. When it comes to the bride’s attire, each piece should work together to enhance the entire outfit. It’s best to have an idea of the type of dress, hairstyle, etc. that you would like. The veil you choose should compliment them well.
Consider The Gown
You really can’t pick a veil you love without knowing how your wedding dress looks. Here is an excellent tip to remember: don’t let your veil and the dress compete for attention.
You don’t want an elaborate veil with a fancy dress. Instead, a simple, minimally trimmed veil will put the spotlight where it belongs–on you and your gown.
Conversely, if your gown is a sheath or some other classically simple style, a beaded, lace-trimmed, or pearl wedding veil can be the star of the show.
Here are ideas to help you decide on the perfect type of veil:
- Allow your veil to show off your dress details.
- Choose a long, sheer veil to reveal and emphasize lavish details on the back of a gown.
- Unless you are wearing a cathedral or royal veil, be sure the length is just above or below the dress’s focal point or waistline.
- Very long veils usually look best if your dress has a train.
- Fingertip or elbow-length veils tend to look best with floor-length gowns.
Choosing a Type
Choosing the wedding veil type can be one of the hardest decisions to make. Short or long? How many tiers? What shape? What material? Blusher? Edging? If so, what kind? What color? What kind of embellishments? The choices seem endless.
The main things to consider are the length, material, color, trim/edging, and embellishment. Veil length is one of the most critical factors in the overall look, so it’s best to begin there.
Wedding Veil Lengths
You can have a veil customized to any length. But be aware veils are usually “named” in relation to where they fall on the body (shoulder, elbow, or fingertip, for example). Where your veil falls will depend on your height and where you attach it.
To find out how long you want your veil to be, stand straight and have someone measure you from where you will attach it to where you want the longest tier to fall. This wedding veil length will be useful when shopping for or making your veil.
Short veils create a dramatic look. They draw attention to your face and hair. These veils are an excellent choice for a plain gown, with little (if any) detailing. Many also love the “retro look” of a birdcage (or blusher/face) veil with a cocktail-length wedding dress.
Medium-length veils generally create a semi-formal to informal look and make an attractive silhouette with a floor-length gown. They are typically between 18 and 50 inches long and fall somewhere between the shoulder and fingertips. If your dress has elaborate detailing at the bodice, consider wearing an elbow or fingertip veil to draw attention to your waist.
Long veils are the most formal of all. Wedding veil length can range from the ballet veil (falling down the back to between the knee and the ankle) to the cathedral veil, trailing up to five or six feet behind the bride.
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. Some standard veil length terms are listed below.
The blusher may be a short face veil. Or it may be 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.
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. For a simple, DIY birdcage veil, head over to How to Make a Birdcage Veil
The mantilla is a one-layer, circular veil with a scalloped edge, often made of lace. Brides most often wear it so the lace edges softly frame their face and upper body. For a blusher effect, attach the center of the veil to the crown of your head. The front hangs around your face. Folded back, the veil will create two layers.
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. Traditionally, brides wear this veil in informal and daytime weddings.
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 veil looks good with gowns with no train or those with a full skirt.
These veils range in length from 36 to 50 inches, depending upon where they are designed to fall. And are versatile. Wear them with a short or long gown. Click here to check out our selection of Fingertip veils.
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. Many consider the chapel veil 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.
The cathedral or royal veil is a dramatic 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.
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 three- and four-tier veils exist and are useful to add visual interest or balance out a relatively simple gown, two-tier veils are most common.
Watch my video to learn more about your options when choosing or designing a veil:
Bridal Veil Types
Here are some definitions of different types of veils. The specifics may vary between sellers. Because fabric, colors, textures, and manufacturing differ depending on the source. But know these terms, and you will be talking the language.
Types of Veil Material
The way a veil looks and feels is mainly determined by the fabric weave of that fabric. You will find many nylon and polyester net fabric veils.
Tulle is the generic term for veil material with specifics depending on the actual fabric. It is a lightweight, somewhat stiff netting most commonly made from polyester or nylon. Tulle is very versatile and cost-efficient.
People in the industry often use the terms bridal illusion and tulle interchangeably. Depending on the source, bridal illusion may be somewhat softer than random tulle you pick up on Amazon. Read reviews and compare and contrast descriptions if this matters to you.
Delicate lace veils are the ultimate in femininity and range from all-over to edge-only designs. Blonda, Chantilly, and lace-embroidered tulle are three lace options for veils.
The first two are found primarily on vintage or extremely high-quality veils. The last, because of versatility and cost, is most commonly worn by today’s bride.
- Handmade Blonda lace has designs crafted from two types of silk: A thin thread for detailing and a thicker one to add depth, more details, or color.
- Chantilly is the town in France where Chantilly lace originates. Artisans intricately embroider the lace with vegetable, fruit, or floral designs. While most Chantilly lace is black, some white veils bare Chantilly designs.
- Lace-embroidered tulle can be sewn to mimic traditional Chantilly or Blonda lace, or to reflect other designs.
When many women think of an all-lace veil, they envision a mantilla veil, single-tier with a scalloped edge.
Types of Color
It seems simple: veils are white. But you’ll soon discover “white” comes in many shades: pure white, winter white, and ivory, to name a few. Each white has variations, but you don’t need to match your dress perfectly.
If you do vary the color, most experts recommend wearing a veil a shade or two lighter than the gown for a put-together look:
- Pure white: This is the “stark” or bright white with no tinting.
- Winter white: This shade has a different name depending on the material or designer: Diamond, Winter, Off-white, or Light Ivory. Whatever the name, it is a soft white, between pure white and ivory.
- Ivory: Ivory is an off-white, yellow-tinted hue. Variations range from light eggshell to a cream color.
Types of Trim or “Edging”
The edges of your veil can be unfinished or edged. Some brides prefer the cut, unfinished edge to not divert attention from their face or gown. Others prefer a finished edge for the added elegance or design. Edges can be finished in a variety of ways:
- Pencil edge: This is a very subtle finish, a simple stitch the same color as the veil to finish off the raw edges.
- Silver or Gold edge: This is similar to the pencil edge in design, but the seamstress uses a metallic thread to match gown detailing or hair accessories.
- Rolled edge: Created by folding the edges 1/4″ to 1/2″ and sewing them with fine-gauge thread. It can finish a veil much like the pencil edge but with a bit more definition.
- Embroidered edge: Can range from the pencil edge mentioned above to elaborate floral or leaf designs.
No matter how you will finish the edges of your veil, you will need to know how much trim to purchase. Use our DIY Veil Trim Length Calculator to figure out how many yards you will need.
The Short Parts of the Veil
Longer veils can have short pieces. Think about these when deciding on whether to have a blusher or “pouf” on your veil.
To Blusher or Not to Blusher?
The blusher veil has a piece of veil material that shields your face from view. During the ceremony, it is lifted and folded back to reveal your beauty.
You may want to make your veil with a specific blusher layer. If you decide on a simple, single-layer veil, you can drape it over your face. Or use the top tier of a two-tier veil as a blusher.
There is also symbology to consider.
There are a few ways you may want to approach wearing your veil.
- You may, like many brides today, go without a blusher and walk down the aisle with face exposed.
- If you do wear a blusher, your father may lift your veil and present you to your new husband.
- Or your husband may lift it after the ceremony for the first married kiss.
- If you want to wear a blusher over your face, but you don’t like the symbology, society often considers it a sign of independence if you lift the veil yourself.
What About a Pouf?
A pouf or bouffant creates the ultimate “gather” veil. It is worn in informal or semi-formal weddings to add character to the hairstyle and headpiece. The pouf is a piece of gathered material (netting, tulle, bridal illusion, etc.) at the veil’s crown or attached to the headpiece.
It is usually about three inches high, but for a more dramatic look can be as large as six or eight inches. The effect can also vary depending on where you attach it: Low: to the back of your head to create a halo effect. High: to a headband, for example, for a more crown-like result.
DIY or Buy
There are a few options when looking for your wedding veil. New, used, vintage (i.e., old), and do-it-yourself. Price can be a narrowing factor. Costs range from around $15.00 if you make your own or if you shop auctions, up to thousands of dollars for a new or vintage veil with real jewels.
In today’s economy, many are looking for ways to have the wedding of their dreams while also keeping costs low. If this describes you (or a client), making your veil yourself may be a good idea. It comes down to personal skills and preferences. If you are considering a DIY veil, take a look at my DIY Wedding Veil Tutorials.
Here are some considerations when deciding whether to make your veil.
Pros of creating your own veil:
• You may save money.
• You can pick out the exact color, length, trims, and beading, etc.
• You can also buy a relatively simple veil and then decorate it yourself.
• Many simple veil styles are relatively easy to make yourself. Such as my veil with blusher and comb.
• If you are very good at sewing, there is the potential to create an elaborate, completely custom veil.
Cons of creating your own veil:
• Buying at a discount may cost about the same or sometimes less than making it.
• You can save time by buying your veil.
• Elaborate embroidery, embellishment patterns, or multiple tiers may be complicated if you do not have experience sewing or if you aren’t very “crafty.”
Make a Wedding Veil
Making your own veil has many benefits. With some planning and craftiness, you can make a one-of-a-kind veil. Elaborate designs will cost much less if you make it yourself. Also, you will have the pride of saying you made your veil and could even pass it down as an heirloom.
Customizing Your Store-Bought Veil
One way to add distinction to your wedding veil is by adding embellishments, such as rhinestones or crystals. These are attached or “scattered” over the veil to enhance the overall effect. They can complement beading and detail elsewhere in your bridal ensemble. Pearls, rhinestones, crystals, or sequins can be applied just near the edge, or scattered across the entire veil.
If you want to make your veil, then please go check out my DIY Wedding Veil Tutorials.
Wedding Veil FAQs
What material is wedding veils made of?
The material is called tulle. Tulle is most commonly made from polyester or nylon netting.
How do I choose my wedding veil length?
Take your gown style into account, to choose a veil length that compliments your dress. See the Wedding Veil Lengths section for details about which designs look best with each veil length.
What are the different veil styles?
The type of material, color, trim, and decorations all determine your veil's style. The number of tiers change the look and style of your veil as well. Look at the Bridal Veil Types section for descriptions of each variation.
How do I make a wedding veil?
First, decide what type of veil and headpiece you will wear. Second, figure out how much material you will need. Next, buy your supplies. Finally, layout and cut the tulle. Then add your choice of trim, decor, and comb. See a link to our DIY wedding veil tutorials in the Make a Wedding Veil section.