To Veil or Not to Veil: From Veil History to 7 Popular Styles

To Veil or Not to Veil: From Veil History to 7 Popular Styles

May 23, 2024


On the whole, human beings are curious. When a mystery is afoot, we’re pulled in like a moth to a flame. We want to know the secret, the story, and every savory morsel. Perhaps it's this love of mystique that has made the tradition of the veil carry on for over 3,000 years.


Originally, veils were meant to hide or shield a bride’s face. (Again, there’s that mystery.) In Roman times, a bride would wear a veil as a tactic to disguise her from any evil spirits that would like to steal her happiness. In some cultures, a veil had to be worn because it was bad luck for the groom to see his bride before the ceremony. We think that simply served to build up the groom’s anticipation as he waited for the big reveal. Gotta keep him on his toes!


Veils have also been used as a symbol of modesty, virtue, and to demonstrate status. As far back as 1400 BC, only the women who were the who’s who in ancient Mesopotamia could wear a veil. A woman's class, rank, or occupation determined if she could or could not wear a veil.



The bridal veil was a hit or miss in Europe until February 10,1840 when Queen Victoria made waves. She ditched the traditional gold, silver or red wedding dress, and instead chose an entirely white gown with a white lace veil. This big move became the talk of the town, and that conversation caught on like wildfire with nobles and commoners alike desperate to wear white on their big days.


Today, 50% to 60% of brides still opt for a veil. And why not? Let’s keep the mystery alive. Nowadays, brides don’t always cover their faces with a veil as they ascend the aisle, which helps eliminate the tripping hazard, but in case she does miss a step, dad is there to help as he walks with her. (Another tradition that dates back to the 16th century!)



Once you’ve chosen to go for a veil, the next decision is much harder–which style to choose? There are 7 popular types of veils. Yes, that can be overwhelming. But take a deep breath, we’re going to break them down for you in order of their length.


1. Birdcage Veil (4-9") – This veil is a vintage nod to the weddings of the 1940s and 1950s. It is a short veil made of raw-edge netting or tulle that covers only half of a bride's face, namely her eyes (ooo-la-la). These types of veils are sometimes worn attached to a headband or pillbox hat.



2. Blusher Veil (30") – For a more formal or religious wedding, a blusher veil is a common choice. A blusher veil is the top layer of a two-tier veil. This top layer covers the entire face of the bride until the groom lifts it after the bride walks down the aisle or for the kiss. The blusher is 30 inches in length, stopping around the waistline of the bride. It is connected to a longer veil that ranges from 42 inches to 108 inches in length.



3. Fingertip Veil (38-40") – Due to its dreamy length (down to the fingertips), this is one of the most popular picks among veils. The pros of a shorter veil: 1. It allows your wedding audience to see more of your skirt. 2. It can be worn all day if you’d like. 3. You won’t risk snagging it as you walk or feel restricted. Many brides will pair their fingertip veil with a headpiece, hello princess tiara, or even a flower crown, hello boho brides.



4. Ballet Veil (60") – True to its title, this lovely veil sways around the knee-length, making it perfect for dancing. (This veil is also called a waltz-veil.)



5. Chapel Veil (90") – Extending all the way to the floor, this veil brings the drama and elegance. It pairs beautifully with chapel length wedding gowns–such as a sheath silhouette.



6. Cathedral Veil (108-120") – We reached the Crème de la Crème of veils. This beauty is straight royalty status. It is perfect for a formal or fairytale wedding. This bridal veil extends one to two feet behind the bride’s dress, making it the longest type of veil. This kind of luxurious amount of material requires higher maintenance in managing. This veil type typically requires at least one person to tend the veil, assisting with spreading and straightening it out. If you love drama, the cathedral veil can also be a royal cathedral which is 120-144 inches long.



7. Mantilla (30-108”) – This scalloped lace veil originated in Spain around the 16th century. It is a large, circular piece of tulle that is fastened just a few inches from the hairline on the top of the head. In traditional Spanish cultures, the mantilla is attached to a decorative hair comb called a peineta. Mantilla veils range between a chapel and cathedral length.



If you’re wondering if you should veil or not, here are a few things to consider.

  • Pros: Veils look beautiful in photos, they add extra zing to a bridal look, and they contribute an element of mystery. Also, this is the one day you get to wear a veil.
  • Cons: For outdoor weddings, veils can be a burden if it's windy. Depending on the length, they can shield your dress or require extra assistance. A veil should compliment your wedding gown, not rival for attention.


In the end, the rule of thumb is to be true to You. You should feel confident and happy with whatever accessories you add. Your overall wedding look should be an honest reflection of your personality. To quote the wonderful designer Coco Chanel, “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”



Veils by

Queen Victoria Photo by History Channel