Wedding Veils 101

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There are SO many styles and options out there to choose from when it comes to wedding veils, am I right? A wedding veil can totally take your wedding day look from here to HEEERE, which is exactly why I am SO passionate about them!! As a wedding photographer, one of the things I love most about veils is that they add visual interest and movement to your portraits!

I’m breaking down all of the different styles, accessories and options, what works, what doesn’t, things to consider, and ALL things veils!

**these are not my photos, Thank you Google Images**

Veil Lengths

Blusher Style/Mid-Arm Length

This is a short, fun and playful style of veil, which should fall between the top of your shoulder and your elbow. Some things to consider with this style is that is is very lightweight, and can be worn all night without messing up your hair, accidentally getting pulled out, or weighing you down. However, because of the lack of length, movement of the veil in photos will appear very stiff and straight, as opposed to light and flowy like you’ll see with longer veils.

Elbow Length Style

This length of veil is often considered the “perfect compromise” length, for a bride who isn’t totally sold on the whole veil thing. It’s not too long, and not too short, super classy and timeless. There is a bit more movement with this veil, but the creative options, photo-wise, will be slightly limited.

Fingertip Length Style

This length is probably one of the most common styles I see at weddings, the bottom of the veil should fall right by your hands, which makes it super easy to grab ahold of to pull over your shoulders, like shown in the photo above. I think this might be my personal favorite, just because it’s still manageable, but still long enough to give a dramatic look and feel! Just be careful, because as we dive into these longer lengths, the chances of your veil accidentally being tugged on (i.e. during family formals) significantly increases!

Ballet Style/Knee Length Veil

Just a tad bit longer than the fingertip length veils, this style is often tiered or angled, with the front hitting around your elbows, and the back hitting at your knees, like shown above. I LOVE this style for photos just like the ones above! Tiered veils are MUCH easier to wrap around your shoulders, and provide a “slimming” affect in photos!! We see this style/length A LOT and there’s no doubt why!

Chapel Length Style

Often confused with the “Cathedral style”, the chapel length falls all the way to the floor, but only sits a few inches from the end/bottom of the dress, like shown above. You might be wondering why there’s a significant length gap between the Chapel style and the previous Ballet style, and that’s because “Calf Length style” probably isn’t the most sought-after length. I’m sure they make it, but I have never seen it on wedding days or in my Google searches. Anyway, this is probably the the most popular and common style we see for long veils, because of the dramatic and beautiful bride vibe it gives!! There’s nothing more that I love than photographing a long veil!! The downside is that long veils can be difficult to manage and keep in place, and often require someone (me or your maid of honor) to continually make sure it’s placed correctly and not bunched up around your feet. They do require some attention but damn, are they worth it!

Cathedral Style Veil

You want that serious WOW factor? Here’s your veil! Although it’s the most dramatic, it’s also probably the most needy and pain-in-the-ass style there is, simply because of the length. Now when it comes to photos, you won’t be disappointed, but keep in mind that you probably won’t want to wear this veil much longer than you have to on the wedding day. Even though the fabric is thin, this much of it does carry some weight, even without any beading or embroidery. But don’t let me scare you off, the creative ideas and possibilities for a cathedral style veil are literally ENDLESS.

Birdcase Style Veil

I love me a good birdcage for a wedding day!! Sadly, we don’t see this style worn as much, and I think most of it is because it’s a style that either you can pull off or you can’t. They certainly are not as forgiving as a traditional style veil, but if you can pull it off, do it!! The placement is also CRUCIAL with birdcage veils because they are intended to cover part of your face, which might make photographs a little tricky. If you’re planning on wearing a birdcage, make sure your photographer is there before you or your hairdresser puts it in, to make sure it’s far back enough and angled correctly to still be able to see both of your eyes in photos.

Juliet Cap Style Veil

I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually seen or heard of this style before I wrote this blog post! This is definitely geared for more of a vintage-style wedding, and I’ll be honest, I don’t totally hate it!! It’s hard to see in the picture above, but the long part of the veil will hit between your mid-arm and elbow, so it’s not super long. The front folds up and will hit the middle of the top of your head, like shown above. This just screams Great Gatsby to me!

Veil Add-ons/Styles

Ribbon Edge

The ribbon edge also seems to be a dying trend, but some things to consider are that the width of the ribbon varies. Some are wider and some are thinner. I will say, this is probably my least favorite veil feature because the ribbon edge tends to add visual heaviness, and I don’t love the stark contrast between the tule of the veil and the ribbon itself. If you’re thinking of doing a ribbon edge, I would suggest finding one with a thiner ribbon, that isn’t so bold and thick.

Beading

Beading is SO pretty, but be SUPER careful because beading adds serious weight to veils and limits their flowy mobility for photo. The weight can also cause you discomfort when wearing it, especially in/on an updo, similar to a heavy, thick ponytail that you’ve had in all day. When trying on veils, especially longer ones with more beading. If you can, before the wedding, try wearing the veil around the house for a few hours or somewhere for an extended amount of time to see if the weight is going to bother you.

Embroidery/Embellishments

Embroidery is super popular and is seen on all styles and lengths of veils. I love the visual interest it provides, but my biggest tip is to make sure that if your dress has a lot of lace, embroidery or embellishments, a veil with similar things might make everything seem a bit busy or cluttered. Again, any kind of embroidery tends to be lighter in weight than beading, but a lot of it can still will add weight to your veil, so just keep that in mind if you’re hoping for some serious flowy and effortless veil photos!!

Over The Face

Okay so maybe not as dramatic as pictured above (thanks Kim K.) but having a veil that sits over your face is a trend we still see here and there. Keep in mind that most veils today do not have this option, where one piece is shorter to fall in front, while the other longer section sits behind. If you’re looking to go for this option, make sure the veil you choose has 2 separate pieces of veil (both attached at the comb) for easy flipping once you get to the alter. DO NOT try and wear 2 separate veils with 2 combs, so one can sit in front while the other sits in the back. It will be a disaster and will definitely mess up your hair!

Hairpieces

LOVE this option!! Etsy has ALL KINDS of intricate and unique hair pieces that are perfect to wear with a veil or without! I have A LOT of brides who will wear a hair piece on top of the veil (shown above) and then when it’s time to take the veil out for dancing and reception, they still have the pretty hair piece in!

Plain & Simple

Despite the title, There is NOTHING wrong with a simple, traditional veil. They are timeless, classy and STILL give you such an elevated and elegant look! If we’re being honest, I will probably wear a completely plain veil to my own wedding! Longer, simple veils like the one pictured above are actually IDEAL for photos!!

Veil Colors

I apologize for such a crappy photo here, but this is a great way to show the most common color options for veils. Now, here’s the thing – YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE OF VEIL COLORS IN PHOTOS! Remember that veils are made out of tulle, which is like a netting, see-through fabric, and I can’t tell you how many brides stress over the fact that their dress is ivory but their veil is off-white. Sister, you will never be able to see the difference. I do caution all of my brides to stay away from PURE white (dresses especially) because they photograph with a blue hue. You can even see it a little bit in the white veil above. The blue hue in the pure white veils aren’t as noticeable, because as mentioned, they are almost see-through, and it can only really been seen when the veil is folded or bunched up together. My advice, don’t stress over color, no one is going to notice, or be able to tell anyway 🙂 The ONLY time I would caution you to pay attention to your veil color is if you’re wearing a champagne colored dress with pink-ish undertones. If this is the case, you’ll certainly want to look at Ivory/Cream colored veils that have a warm undertone!


There you have it!! The most common veil styles and options out there! Remember that your wedding day is YOUR day, and everyone’s styles and preferences are different! There’s no right or wrong options here, and I encourage you to stick with your gut, even if that means not wearing a veil at all! The most important thing is that you feel beautiful and love what you’re wearing!!

-Cristina