Everything you need to know about the tradition of the wedding veil

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A veil is a romantic addition to any wedding dress. It’s usually a piece of tulle that complements the dress, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether your style slants the ball gown or the tea length, it adds the perfect finishing touch.

Today, couples are observing this tradition in a new and modernized way, which we will discuss a little later. If you choose to incorporate a bridal veil into your look, it will quickly become one of your most important bridal accessories. And as you consider incorporating it into your outfit, questions will likely arise: How much does it cost? What style should I adopt? How should it be worn? Where did the tradition start anyway?

Read on to learn more about this historic tradition and to get answers to any wedding veil questions you can think of.

Bailey Mariner / Brides

The history and significance of the wedding veil

The veil is “the oldest part of the bridal ensemble,” says wedding historian Susan Wagoner. It dates back to ancient times, when people “wrapped brides from head to toe to represent the delivery of a modest and intact young girl.” Additional Benefits: The veil “also hid her from evil spirits who might want to thwart her happiness.”

Meet the expert

Susan Wagoner is a marriage historian and author.

Some of you are all, “I can’t leave it to this evil spirits business.” It’s cool; you’re just more sensitive. But fear not, the veil offers something for everyone: “A more practical reason for the veil, it is said in the days of arranged marriages, was the desire to hide the face of the bride from the groom”, said Wagoner. Queen Victoria was married in a white dress and a veil cascading down her back, “making her the first modern monarch to marry a veil,” says Wagoner. And at that time, the image of the bride was defined for centuries to come.

Today, the wedding veil is more of a mere accessory than a means of warding off evil spirits. Some brides choose to wear one over their face, but more often than not it is draped over the back of their hair and dress.

Wedding veil faqs

What are the different styles of veil?

There are quite a few. You can go minimal and stick with simple tulle or you can go for lace, floral appliques, or even beaded details.

Should it complement your dress?

It’s a good idea. You’ll want something that works with your dress rather than overshadows it. There are no hard and fast rules, but we have some helpful tips and advice here.

How long should this last?

Some experts recommend choosing a length based on the vibe you are looking for. The longer sails are more dramatic and stylish while the shorter sails are cool and fun. Lengths can range from a birdcage veil (4-9 inches) to a cathedral veil (108-120 inches).

Which hairstyle goes best with a veil?

It depends on the type of sail you choose. Some are made for updos, others lie perfectly flat if you choose to wear your hair down, and some are great for a half-up, half-down style. There is a veil for every hairstyle.

Unless you have a particular veil that you absolutely cannot walk down the aisle without, it may be easier to pick your hairstyle first and go from there.

How to keep it in place?

There is usually a comb attached to a veil that you can secure in your hair. But if you want extra security (especially if you’re planning an outdoor wedding), plan to buy some bobby pins. Get a few that match your hair color and place them on either side of your veil.

Do you need it to cover your face?

Blush is the so called shortest piece of veil that is typically worn across the front of the bride’s face as she walks down the aisle, and wearing one is entirely up to you. Many contemporary brides choose not to, but you can certainly do so if you like a more traditional look.

When to buy your veil?

You should select your veil three to four months before your wedding, which will give your designer time to do so and save you urgent service charges.

How much does it cost?

The more intricate the details of your sail, the more expensive it will be. There are options at all prices, but this delicate tulle fabric is pricier than you might think. A simple version can start at around $ 250 while more ornate styles can run as high as $ 3,000 or more.

How do you store it?

First of all, you need to fold it properly on a hanger to avoid wrinkles and creases. Once done, place it in a protective storage bag to prevent it from snagging on buttons or clasps inside your closet. If you plan to keep your veil after the wedding (it can be a nice heirloom), make sure it is cleaned and stored properly as it can fade and weaken over time.

Do you have to wear your veil for the entire wedding?

When you take off your canopy (if any) it’s up to you. If your veil is cathedral style, you may want to remove it after the ceremony and after the photos so people don’t step on it during the cocktail hour or reception. If you have a shorter style, your chances of someone ripping it up are much lower.

Alternatives to the wedding veil

There are many ways to get creative with the tradition of the wedding veil to make it your own, and you can modernize it by all way you want.

A common reason you don’t want a veil is that it can blow in your face (or get caught in something and tear) when you walk down the aisle. Many modern brides have traded them in for flower crowns, tiaras, eye-catching hair accessories, or statement headdresses depending on what goes best with the overall feel and style of the wedding. Or you can take a page out of these ladies’ great days by wearing a veil that is totally unique to you. Alternatively, if it’s the price that puts you off, you can also DIY your own veil with tulle and a hair clip.

Some women don’t feel the need to wear a veil at all, and that’s fine too. Don’t worry, forgoing the tradition won’t make you less bridal. It’s your day after all. Stick to your style cravings.


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