What Is a Mantilla Wedding Veil?

What Is a Mantilla Wedding Veil?


While most veils are simply a fashion statement, mantilla veils are full of rich history and are traditionally rooted in romance-language cultures. Spanish, Latin, and even Italian brides have been wearing this look on their wedding day for hundreds of years. The veil’s elaborate elegance transcends the passing of time and looks as stunning in ceremonies today as it did centuries ago.

What Is a Mantilla Wedding Veil?

A mantilla wedding veil is a timeless, sophisticated finishing touch to a bride’s perfect wedding day look. The Spanish-style circular veil features a thick lace trim along the edge and intricate embellishments cascading down the front, framing the bride's face.

“Mantilla wedding veils are circular veils with a lace trim around the entire edge, typically with a scalloped lace,” explains event planner Jose Rolón. “They are a popular style for cathedral length veils, but can also be shorter blusher or chapel lengths.”

Meet the Expert

José Rolón is the owner of José Rolón Events, a wedding planning firm based in New York City. He’s also the host of The Wedding Buzz NYC, a series on YouTube where he interviews experts in the wedding industry.

While the veils are commonly adorned in lace, the decoration around the edge can be anything from dainty appliques to bold embroidery. Traditionally, mantilla veils are worn on top of the head about two inches behind the hairline, which allows the lace edge to drape perfectly alongside the bride’s face and down to her shoulders.

If you’re wondering if a mantilla wedding veil is the right choice for your wedding day, look no further. Below, we’ll dive into the history and meaning behind this exquisite accessory and give you all the tips and tricks you need to know to wear a mantilla wedding veil. 

The History and Meaning of Mantilla Wedding Veils

Mantilla wedding veils stem from the word manta, meaning cape. The sophisticated style has its roots in Catholicism, particularly in Spanish, Latin, and Italian cultures. In these cultures, veils aren’t limited to just weddings. “[Mantilla veils] are traditionally pieces of black or white lace that are draped over a woman’s head when attending Mass,” says Rolón. “Keeping in tradition, the black veils were worn by married or widowed women, while the white veils were worn by unmarried women.

Since many Hispanic and Italian weddings take place at a Catholic church, mantilla wedding veils are an homage to this ancient cultural practice. Many traditional Catholic churches also require that the bride's shoulders be covered during mass, whether that means a dress with sleeves or a mantilla veil. “It was standard for brides to wear a white lace veil [at Catholic wedding ceremonies], and mantillas are a popular choice for their cape-like draping to cover shoulders,” says Rolón.

Mantilla Wedding Veil FAQs

How much are mantilla wedding veils?

Like wedding dresses, mantilla wedding veils can also vary widely in price. Prices start at a few hundred dollars and can go upwards from there, depending on the designer. 

How long are mantilla wedding veils?

Mantilla veils are most popular in a cathedral length, but they can also be chapel or shoulder length. 

Who can wear a mantilla wedding veil?

Although the tradition has its roots in Hispanic and Italian cultures, anyone can wear them. Brides who want to honor their heritage can wear a mantilla veil, but it’s also a great option for brides having a destination wedding in a Latin American, Spanish, or Italian country to incorporate and celebrate the surrounding culture. 

What’s the best material for a mantilla wedding veil?

“Scallop lace is the hallmark of a mantilla veil,” says Rolón. “When choosing a mantilla veil, your gown is very important to ensure laces coordinate and don’t clash.” The scallop lace serves as the trim for the tulle or netting of the actual veil, but additional beading and embellishments can be applied to the lace and veil for brides that want to add a modern element to this traditional bridal look. 

What kind of hairstyle works best with a mantilla wedding veil?

“Without a doubt, Mantilla veils look great for brides wanting to wear their hair down, especially in long waves for dramatic effect,” says Rolón. “If you are wanting an updo, a low bun will work best so the mantilla veil is still able to sit smoothly on top of the head."

How do you attach a mantilla wedding veil?

It depends on the veil. Some will come with an attached comb, but traditionally, it’s worn over a peineta, a large decorated high comb, which keeps the veil in place throughout the ceremony. 

When do you wear a mantilla wedding veil?

Mantilla veils are traditionally worn during a full Catholic service in a church. To avoid a potential pre-wedding hair disaster, we recommend waiting until you’re at the church to put on your veil. The last thing you want is a bridesmaid to step on it or for the lace to get wrinkled on the car ride over. Most brides will keep the veil on after the ceremony for bridal pictures, and then take it off before they get to the reception. 

Can I wear a mantilla wedding veil to my reception? 

Many brides choose to remove their veil for the reception so they can move around easier and dance, but it’s totally up to you. If your veil is cathedral length, it may be wise to nix the veil to avoid it getting stepped on and ruining the veil or your hair. Another option is to swap the cathedral length for a shorter blusher or birdcage veil for the reception. 

How to Wear a Mantilla Wedding Veil

“Mantilla veils are worn at the top of the head, so the scalloped edge lace frames the face and drapes over the shoulders,” says Rolón. To properly attach the veil ahead of your "I do's," be sure to follow the advice below.

  1. Decide on your wedding day hairstyle. Just about any hairstyle will work with a mantilla veil, except a high bun. Be sure to talk to your hairstylist before the day of the wedding and let them know what type of veil you’re choosing. The hairstyle will also determine the placement of the veil. 
  2. Start by draping the veil over your head. For a more traditional look, secure the hidden comb or pin at the top of your head two inches from your hairline and let the embellished border frame your face. 
  3. Experiment with the placement. Another modern way to style a mantilla veil is to knot it at the back of the head for a Juliet cap look.
  4. Make sure it’s tightly secured. Once your veil is in the perfect place, secure the comb or pin with bobby pins that match your hair color. Mantilla veils that are placed at the top of the head are prone to slipping, especially if you’re wearing your hair down. Make sure to move your head around a bit before walking down the aisle and make sure you can bow, sit, and stand comfortably without the veil pulling your hair or falling.

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