Updated: Jul 14
The dizzying array of bridal accessories and veils can be staggering to wade through when you are beginning your search for your perfect wedding look, and many brides cannot imagine their ensemble complete without one. The tradition of wearing a delicate fabric covering on one’s head as a bride is said to have most likely originated in ancient Roman times, first as a means to ward off any “evil spirits” on her wedding day, and then as a symbol of purity and chastity.
The classic white or ivory coloured wedding veil we all think of when we imagine a typical bridal look was not always in fashion in the western world. It did not gain popularity until Queen Victoria wore one at her royal nuptials in 1840. The rest is sartorial history!
When choosing a veil, take into account first your gown silhouette and then the fabric and embellishments, hairstyle, wedding location, and level of formality you plan for your special day. With floaty tulle, silk organza or chiffon, netting, lace and lace appliqué, stunning beadwork, scattered crystals, or satin edging, you are spoiled with a myriad of choices!
Maison M’Elise and their romantic bridal label, Truly Love Me, is here to help! They create haute couture gowns, bespoke bridal accessories, and custom lace that will suit whatever your heart desires. Here is a breakdown of the most popular bridal veil styles used today…
Cathedral length veil
Let’s start with the most traditional type of veil and also the one that is the longest that can reach beyond 300 centimeters. Typically worn in weddings held in large cathedrals or churches, this style is very regal and makes a grandiose statement! Meant to be worn with a wedding gown with a long train, this veil extends beautifully beyond the train, trailing behind the bride as she walks down the aisle to her groom and can consist of one or two tiers, or with a blusher (*more on blushers below).
She will need assistance from her maids or flower girls to ensure that the she can move around easily in the moments before and after the ceremony and when greeting guests, and some brides choose to have a second shorter veil or an embellished headpiece to change into after the ceremony for ease of movement. These veils truly make a dramatic impact for those who are having a formal church wedding.
Chapel or church length veil
The chapel length veil, traditionally worn in chapel or church ceremonies, is very similar to the cathedral veil but is about 50 centimeters shorter. This type of veil also makes for a very grand entrance and are typically worn with a gown with a train. It drapes delicately behind the bride as she moves, the diaphanous tulle flowing beautifully over the gown’s train. They are particularly stunning with ball gown and A-line style haute couture dresses.
Floor length veil
As the name implies, this type of veil should just skim the floor as the bride moves. While still a dramatic and elegant choice, a floor length veil should ideally be worn with a gown that does not have a substantially long train as the full impact of the veil could get lost when worn with an extravagant train. They pair beautifully with a column or sheath type wedding dress.
Waltz or ballet length veil
This veil falls to a length of between the knee and calf and is great for those who want something that is not as formal looking as a chapel or floor length veil. Creating a very airy and ethereal look, this veil length is ideal for brides who plan on keeping their veil and bridal accessories on after the ceremony and on to the reception. There is a greater ease of movement for dancing and socialising the whole night through. They look fantastic when worn with A-line dresses, a simple column style gown, and ankle length dresses.
Fingertip length veil
The fingertip length veil is exactly as its name suggests and is a popular choice because of its ease of wear and versatility with different types of gowns, and is a supreme choice for brides who want a simple, elegant, and understated look on their wedding day. They are perfect with or without a blusher layer and move beautifully in the breeze when outdoors. So pretty for the photos!
Elbow length veil
This length falls to the elbow and is a good choice for brides wanting to draw attention to a stunningly detailed dress bodice as the tulle will not overtake the rest of the entire look. They too are simple, versatile, elegant and can be feather-light if so desired. A wisp of gossamer in the wind.
The flyaway veil is a less formal, shorter type veil that comes to the shoulder in length. They feel light in weight and look very sweet when they are multi-tiered, creating more volume. This kind of veil goes wonderfully with a shorter 50’s style full-skirted tea-length silhouette, or ankle length dress. Go full retro with charming gloves and satin closed-toe pumps or T-straps! The team at Maison M’Elise is here at your disposal if you need any styling advice to complete your look.
One of my all-time favourite head-adornment looks, the Juliet cap veil is especially glamorous. This style is named for one half of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers duo, Juliet Capulet, as this was one of the styles frequently worn by ladies back in the 16th century Europe.
It experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1910’s and 1920’s, and therefore these days brings to mind silent films stars and their large, expressive eyes peeking out from under lavish silk head-wraps, swanning around draped in opulent haute couture creations. At least that’s how I always envision this look!
Juliet cap veil
Tulle or netting is gathered at sides of the head near the temples to create a cap-like shape that either covers the hairline or is set back a bit further more a more contemporary look. From there the delicate fabric drapes down behind from the “cap”. The fabric framing the face can be adorned with beaded lace, crystals, pearls, silk flowers, or even be attached to an embellished head band or wreath that holds it in place. This unique style is especially striking worn with slinky, vintage-inspired beaded gowns or can look sweet and serene coupled with the more lacey and flowy, bohemian-style dresses.
The mantilla veil is a highly stylish choice of Spanish origin that became popular in17th and 18th centuries. Oval in shape, it is draped over the head about 5-6 centimeter from the hairline and can be worn in all the way to cathedral length or shorter. Traditionally, mantillas were not only worn for nuptials, but rather for Catholic holy days and then in a shorter black lace variety, held up with a high standing peineta, an adorned comb, underneath.
Nowadays, the mantilla is donned in white or off-white for weddings and usually features a delicate scalloped border made of intricate lace, gracefully framing the wearer’s face while falling over her shoulders for a truly romantic countenance. The bride can style her hair down or pulled back, however modern bridal mantillas are not suited to hairstyles that involve a high bun or up do as they are meant to flow naturally down the contour of the head.
Birdcage veils automatically evoke thoughts of classic film heroines and chic mid-century styling. This vintage head adornment usually consists of either French or Russian netting (a larger diamond shaped mesh pattern) that is anchored to the top or side of the wearer’s head with comb, a decorative fascinator, or even a small pill box style hat.
Anything from silk flowers and beaded lace to rhinestones and feathers are used as embellishment, and the netting veils and sweetly frames the top half (or sometimes all) off the bride’s face. A very coy and flirty look, they pair perfectly with 50’s style tea-length dresses and gloves for a delightful retro vibe. This type of bridal accessory is also becoming steadily more popular these days when worn with the more fitted and voluptuous gowns, such as mermaid and trumpet styles, giving the whole look a sweet and sexy aura.
A bit on blushers and drop veils
Here’s where things admittedly get a bit more involved when learning about veil terminology. A “blusher” can refer to either a shorter, two-tiered type veil, like the flyaway veil mentioned above, or it can also mean the shorter part or “second tier” of the veil that the bride wears over her face for the ceremony that will be lifted up for the first kiss.
When speaking of the latter, nearly any length of veil can be constructed with a blusher. If you wish to wear a blusher and have your face covered for the ceremony, it’s only a matter of where the comb for your veil is placed and sewn in, if you plan on wearing a “drop veil” style of veil, if you would like one or two tiers of tulle, and your planned hairstyle. Crystal clear, right? If it sounds pretty confusing, that’s probably because you might not have known there were so many choices when it comes to veils. I sure didn’t when I got married!
In a long nutshell, a drop veil (or circle veil) is one piece of fabric that is “dropped” onto the top of the head so that it drapes down over the body and secured with hairpins or a simple comb. Depending on your hairstyle, most drop veils will lay flat on the top of the head with minimal gathering or ruching. When it’s time to lift the veil, the front part is simply swept back over the head to create two layers anchored by the comb or headband underneath.
Some brides choose to have the drop veil secured to their hair separately and then also wear an elegant headband or hair accessory that is fastened underneath the tulle so as the blusher is flipped back, they still have a lovely headpiece that will show for the rest of the celebrations. Veils that are secured at the nape of the neck, near a low chignon for example, do not usually have a blusher option as these are meant to flow down the back and are not ideal for including a front tier.
Maison M’Elise want your unique look and creation to be perfect for your special day.
– Valerie Torres