Deciding what veil to wear is a major moment in creating your overall wedding day look. With wedding veil styles ranging from a face-framing 4" to a floor-skimming 120", many brides are overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. "A veil highlights a bride's appearance when walking down the aisle," says Stephanie Caravella of Bel Aire Bridal. "It can also enhance the wedding dress by complementing the beading or embroidery on the gown."
But the decision isn't as simple as choosing a long or short veil. Different types of veils and lengths can completely transform your wedding style. While a blusher may convey a retro-chic vibe, a cathedral-length veil feels traditional and oh-so dramatic.
Wedding Veil Styles by Length
Bird Cage Wedding Veil: 4-9"
This short and flirty wedding veil can cover just the eyes, skim the nose or fall at the jawline. Usually made of a net or lace, this style is also known as a bandeau veil.
Shoulder-Length Wedding Veil: 20-22"
As the name suggests, this wedding veil style hits your shoulders. Shoulder-length wedding veils are a great option for brides who want a traditional-looking veil that doesn't compete with the details of their dress.
Blusher Wedding Veil: 30"
Also known as an angle veil or wedge veil, this style offers a less traditional look with vintage appeal. "A blusher is a short veil that falls over the face and ends near the top of the dress," says Caravella. "During the ceremony, it's pulled back to reveal the bride, which makes for an exciting and moving moment—the first time the groom sees his bride's face."
Elbow Wedding Veil: 32"
If you want a more conservative look for your ceremony, an elbow-length veil is an elegant way to cover up without wearing a bulky bolero or shrug. "An elbow veil falls gracefully over the shoulders to the bride's—you guessed it—elbow," says Caravella.
Fingertip Wedding Veil: 38-40"
"A fingertip veil falls beyond the bride's hips and is a popular choice because it allows any design on the back of a bride's gown to be seen through the sheer fabric," says Caravella.
Knee-Length Veil: 48"
Designed to fall to your knee, this wedding veil length offers drama and elegance without weighing you down. The veil can be adjusted to fall a little longer or a little shorter to fall just at your knee, depending on your height.
Waltz Wedding Veil: 60"
There's no rule that says you need to take off your veil for the reception. But if you do choose to keep it on, make sure it won't get in the way of dancing and mingling. "A waltz veil falls to the mid-calf and is a great option for those who want to wear a longer veil for the reception, but still want the freedom to move throughout the evening." This wedding veil style is also called a ballet veil.
Floor-Length Wedding Veil: 72"
"A floor-length veil just grazes the floor and matches the length of the bride's gown," says Caravella. The flowing fabric will add extra volume to your look, perfect for a bride who was torn between a ball gown and more streamlined silhouette.
Chapel Wedding Veil: 90"
Opting to forgo a train? A chapel-length veil will create the illusion of a train, without any pesky bustling required. "A chapel-length veil sweeps across the floor extending slightly beyond the bride's gown," says Caravella.
Cathedral Wedding Veil: 108-120"
For the most regal entrance, you must have a cathedral-length veil. "A cathedral-length veil extends beyond the train of the bride's gown and is the most dramatic down-the-aisle length," says Caravella.
3 Things to Remember When Choosing a Wedding Veil
1. Pinpoint Your Budget
Have a price tag in mind. What can seem to be a flimsy piece of fabric can actually cost much more than expected, easily racking up your wedding style budget. Some veils may even cost more than the actual dress itself. "Like gowns, veils can range significantly in price—usually dependent on the detailing," says Briana Abedi, senior stylist at Carine's Bridal Atelier in Washington D.C. "A simple veil can start at about $250-$300, while our more ornate veils can reach up to $3,000 or higher." Having an idea of what you can spend will help you narrow down your veil options right away.
2. Consider Your Hairstyle
A chignon versus long flowing curls may result in a completely different veil placement. For example, if you're wearing the former, you may want to pin your veil below the bun to show off your updo. If you're envisioning the latter, you may want to pin the veil on the crown of your head to add volume.
If you're hoping to add hair accessories to your look, let your bridal stylist know what you have in mind so she can help you choose the right veil style that will suit your accessories. You don't want your head to look cluttered.
3. Try On Multiple Wedding Veils With Your Dress
Your veil will help shape your style on the big day, so naturally, you'll want something that balances the vibes of your dress without overshadowing it. Abedi, who likes to show the bride different styles that might complement her gown, says "I like to pick several options for the bride to experiment with to embody different looks. The look can change completely just with the addition of a veil, so it's important that the bride feels most beautiful in whatever the vision may be."
Don't be afraid to try something you wouldn't normally gravitate towards. You may be surprised—keeping things matchy-matchy isn't always the best way to complement your gown, depending on the look you want to achieve. "Sometimes, mixing textures is a great way to add some originality," adds Abedi. "For instance, a lace-trim veil paired with a very clean gown."
How to Pick the Right Veil for Your Dress
Need more guidance? We get it. There's a lot to process when it comes to choosing a veil. We asked expert bridal stylists what wedding veils they prefer, according to wedding gown styles. These are by no means hard and fast rules, but they're helpful tips for brides looking for a starting point.
A Heavily Embellished Gown
If you have your heart set on a heavily beaded or embellished dress, you can go one of two ways with your veil. For the princess-y bride who loves herself some sparkle, a classic, raw edge cathedral veil with scattered Swarovski crystals that will 'twinkle' as you walk down the aisle is absolutely stunning, says Carla Imbriano, lead designer at Boutique de Voile. Another fitting option she suggests: "A veil with minimal matching beadwork along the edge."
A Simple-But-Stunning Dress
If a bride has a simple dress and wants to amp up the drama without any embellishments, an angel cut veil trimmed in satin, horsehair, or organza is always a good choice, notes Kleinfeld Fashion Director Terry Hall. "It will frame the face of the bride beautifully, and when it cascades down, you'll see a spiral of fabric on the edge that gives you that dramatic look and feel." A veil with touches of light lace is also very elegant styled with a simple dress, says bridal stylist and wedding expert Renée Strauss.
A Dress With a Statement Back
A breathtaking ornate or sheer illusion lace back is a popular trend. To show off your backside, Imbriano recommends a special custom cut cathedral without any accents (beadwork or crystals) in the body of the veil. Think sheer and chic and remember to steer clear of multiple layers of fabric.
A Gown With a Long Train
As long as your gown doesn't have a ton of back detail, you can pretty much wear any type of veil with a dress that has a long train, tells Hall. His favorite, however, is by far a cathedral veil. "It's so interesting and creates a dramatic, ethereal look."
Just make sure the veil extends past the train.
A Modern Dress
For brides opting to go the contemporary route (think fit-and-flare, mermaid gowns, and tea-length dresses), a more modern style veil is perfectly appropriate, points out Elisha Caplan, designer and owner of Elisha Caplan. "These are the short, layered, square-cut and blusher styles. A short veil (shoulder to elbow length) is great for a tea-length dress or a city hall dress," she says.
A Vintage Wedding Dress
If your something borrowed happens to be your wedding dress, why not go all out with a birdcage veil to match? "It will become the ornate part of the ensemble," says Strauss.
A Short Wedding Dress
The shorter the dress, the shorter the veil. "For a sassy, cocktail length gown or shorter, we love a birdcage veil, or better yet, a whimsical multiple layer veil in a shorter length...something reminiscent of an Audrey Hepburn movie," say Imbriano.
A Beachy Bohemian Dress
Getting hitched oceanfront? According to Strauss, a chapel veil is great for a beach wedding when you want the veil flowing in the wind but not to be too cumbersome.