We're Answering All of Your Wedding Veil Questions

Veil etiquette

Photo: Kate Murphy

If you're aiming to wear a veil like a stylish bride, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. That classic piece of bridal headwear comes in a wide range of lengths and styles, and requires a certain code of conduct. We gathered some of the most pertinent etiquette questions related to veils so brides can walk down the aisle with style and confidence.

What are the different lengths and what wedding dresses do they go with?
Cathedral: About 120 inches of pure drama; oft worn by royal brides.
Best with: A princessy ball gown (with train) and a titled groom.

Birdcage: A small, wide-net veil that covers only your face.
Best with: A vintage style or a short dress. (It's just the thing for a city-hall affair.)

Flyaway: Hits a little below your shoulders to create a voluminous triangle shape.
Best with: A more casual style, like a lacy sheath.

Elbow: Extends to your elbows for a semiformal look.
Best with: A full-skirted gown with little to no train. (And it won't overwhelm petites.)

Fingertip: Reaches just past your hands.
Best with: Both body skimmers and ball gowns. (Duchess Kate wore one!)

Ballet: A less-common choice, hits right at your ankles. Also known as a waltz veil.
Best with: An ankle-length dress for a clean silhouette.

Chapel: Ninety inches long; drags (a bit!) on the ground.
Best with: A statement gown that puddles so the veil can glide along with your dress.

I would love to wear a cathedral-length veil for my wedding, but does it really have to be carried by pages? Can't I simply let it trail behind me?
You don't need a crew to carry your veil. Just be sure to have someone — your maid of honor, dad, or wedding consultant — arrange it behind you before you head down the aisle. To ensure that your veil doesn't get dirty, have an aisle runner put in place before the processional.

My future mother-in-law wants me to wear her veil. How do I say no without offending her?
You have a few options. Option one: Give in. Is it so awful? Can your hairdresser fashion the veil with combs, flowers, or bobby pins? Option two: Offer to use the veil another way — as a shoulder wrap, maybe. If that doesn't fly, see if your own mother has her veil, which you'll just have to wear instead. Last resort: Tell her the truth. If it is because she's divorced and you think it would be bad luck, that's one thing. It is also acceptable to decline if you're hosting a super-casual wedding for which a veil would be inappropriate, or if it simply does not go with your wedding dress. But if you want to say no thank you because you want to show her who's boss, this may not be the moment. I'd probably give in; if you don't like it, you can take it off for photos.

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