In days past (way past, that is!), it is said that brides wore a veil to conceal her identity from the groom. This was because marriages were often arranged between the fathers of the bride and groom or by a wedding matchmaker, and the bride was delivered to the ceremony hidden by the veil. The groom was not allowed to unveil his bride until the two were husband and wife.

    Today, however, the veil carries other significance. In some religions it is worn as a symbol of purity, and when a father lifts the blusher from the bride's face, he symbolically "gives" his daughter to the groom. Whatever the reason it is worn, the bridal veil completes the bridal ensemble and changes the wedding gown from a beautiful dress to "I'm a bride". I've seen it countless times in my fifteen years of creating wedding gowns -- the bride is beautiful in her dress, but something magical happens when she puts on the veil.

    As with the wedding gown, the choices of a veil are many. First and foremost, you want the veil that will compliment your wedding gown, not one that overwhelms it (or you). You'll want to select a veil that is neither too full nor too skimpy, too long nor too short - in other words, one that is flattering to you and your height, weight, and the hairstyle you've chosen for the big day.

    Sometimes, choosing a veil is the "chicken and egg" problem. Which comes first, the hairstyle or the veil? If you are wearing a family heirloom veil, you'll choose your hairstyle to compliment the veil. Otherwise, most brides select their hairstyle and then choose the veil (and headpiece).


    Whether I am creating a custom gown for a bride or altering her ready-to-wear dress, I always advise them to wait to choose the veil until the dress is nearly complete. It's very hard to select a veil when you don't have the gown on to see the compatibility (or lack thereof) between the veil and the gown, your height, hairstyle, etc.

    Veils are typically made from bridal illusion or tulle. Bridal illusion is either nylon or silk, and is a fine mesh fabric. Tulle is a slightly thicker, heavier version of mesh. You can also have a veil made from chiffon, georgette or organza, English net, French net, or point d'esprit. Illusion and tulle come in widths from 54" to 108" wide, most of the others come either 45", 54" or 72" wide. Most veils look best if they are at least 72" wide, 108" makes a full, lush veil, and wider than 108" is very full. If you are having a veil made, your dressmaker can show you samples or photos of different veils and their fullness. Your veil can have a plain edge (except for fabrics like chiffon, georgette and organza, where the edges need to be hemmed), or the edges can be embellished with pearls, lace, or embroidery.


    Veils are usually single or double layers, and I've listed below the most common lengths. Note: the measurements given assume wearing the veil at the crown of the head.

    • Shoulder length touches the shoulders (about 12"-16" long).
    • A Blusher is long enough to cover the face to just below the chin area (about 16"-18" long) and is designed to be lifted up and over the head as the father or other person gives the bride away.
    • Elbow length touches the elbows when the arms are straight (about 24" long).
    • Fingertip length touches the fingertips when the arms are straight (about 28"-30" long).
    • Ballet or waltz length falls to the ankles (about 60" long).
    • Chapel length is about 2-1/2 yards long and falls to the floor. It is designed to trail slightly on the floor.
    • Cathedral veils are about 3-1/2 yards long.

    Double layer veils can have a short blusher layer and any of the longer lengths described above, or the layers can be closer in length - such as a 24"/28" combination. Veils are gathered and sewn to either a comb or a barrette. It is wise to keep the veil on a separate comb or barrette from the headpiece so that the veil can be removed during the reception. If you don't remove the veil, your head will be pulled from side to side as people hug you, and they can become hazardous on the dance floor!

    Your choice of veil length is determined by your height, the style of your wedding gown (formal or informal, garden wedding or formal church service), your groom's height (the veil will add a few inches to your overall visual height) and how elaborate the back of your gown is. For example, if your gown has embroidery or beading, or an interesting lace up corset, or other embellishment, you wouldn't want to cover it up with a double layer, 108" very full veil!

    Whether to trim the veil or leave the edges plain is another decision you must make. Again, how elaborate or plain your wedding gown is will help you make this choice. If your gown has very little embellishment on it, you could get a veil with plenty of interest on its edging such as lace or embroidery. If your gown is very elaborate with embroidery, beading, etc. you may want to keep the veil simple so it doesn't compete with the dress. See why it's so important to have the gown on when picking your veil?

    One last note. An increasing number of brides tell me they don't plan to wear a veil, they just will wear flowers in their hair or a simple headpiece. If you feel strongly about that, fine. But give the veil a chance and try some on. It really does complete the outfit and turns you from a beautiful woman wearing a special dress into a bride.

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