There are so many beautiful wedding veils out there. In every conceivable style and colour and quite frankly, it can all get a little confusing. Kelly Spence, a talented bridal accessories designer, knows a thing or two about bridal veils and she’s cut through all the confusion in this article that unveils the veil!
“Wow, I never knew there were so many options!” is a phrase I hear so often from brides when coming to see me for a veil consultation. Most brides have of course never tried a veil on before and so are unaware of the myriad of different types and styles available.
While many brides are happy to wear the veil that is suggested when they buy their dress (and of course some choose to not wear a veil at all), more and more brides are wanting to choose their own veil, one that fits with their own personal style and wedding day look.
Length is perhaps the most obvious of the options available but what are the standard lengths available, how are they measured and how do you decide what length works best for you and your dress?
There are 7 standard lengths in veils.
45” – shoulder length – works really well with 50s/60s style dresses, especially in a bouffant style
54” – waist/elbow length – works with most dresses but be careful if you are having a heavy edging on your veil that it doesn’t obscure or cut right across any detail on the back of your dress.
72” – hip/fingertip length – very versatile length, looks particularly good with narrow dresses. Not particularly flattering for dresses that flare from the hip
90” – floor/waltz length – not one for tall brides, suits more petite brides looking for a floor length veil without a train
108” – ballet/floor/puddle train length – depending on your height this length can either just brush the floor or cover a small ‘puddle’ train.
126” – chapel length – works with nearly all dresses, surprisingly lengthening so don’t automatically rule it out if you are not the tallest of brides!
144” – cathedral length – the ultimate statement veil! Great for creating the wow factor but do make sure it will fit in your venue, it’s not called ‘cathedral’ for nothing!
To avoid confusion always tell your veil designer the ‘actual length’ you would like your veil. If you are looking to have a long veil it is best to make sure it is at least 2 or 3 inches longer than your train to avoid it cutting across any detail that you may have on the back of your dress. And if you haven’t got a train on your dress but would like one, you can always create one with a much longer veil!
If you intend to wear your veil quite low on the back of your head, and would like to wear the blusher over your face, make sure your veil has a longer blusher to ensure that it covers your face completely. Traditionally, the blusher should end just under your bust and be clear of your flowers.
Veils can have 1,2 or 3 tiers and can even have their bottom tiers detachable to turn a long veil for the ceremony into a shorter veils for the reception. As explained above, the top tier of a 2 or 3 tier veil is know as the blusher and is the layer that can be worn over the face if desired.
There are many veil fabrics available and each have very different qualities to them. Here are the most common:
Synthetic tulle – this is the most common and budget friendly of the fabrics. It can come in a variety of weights and qualities from a very stiff tulle (suitable for those wanting to create a very bouffant style) to a much softer tulle. At Kelly Spence we also have a superior Italian synthetic tulle which is soft but with a heavier drape to it and more luxurious feel.
If you are looking for something a little different but pretty you could also consider a polka dot or swiss dot veil.
Soft silk – a very fluid and drapey fabric, has no ‘body’ of its own but is so delicate it is barely perceptible to touch. Works great with vintage style or flowing dresses. This was the fabric used in Kate Middleton’s veil for her wedding to Prince William.
Crisp silk – an extremely transparent fabric, the lightest of all the tulles meaning it almost hangs in the air, especially in the longer lengths, creating a very ethereal silhouette. Chosen recently by the now Princess Charlene of Monaco.
Silk Tulle Mix – This is a crisp tulle, part silk part synthetic, combining the transparency of the silk with the robustness of the synthetic. Comes in a wider range of colours than the 100% silk.
This is an often overlooked area and can dramatically alter the look of a veil. 2 tier veils are cut in an oval or circle and are gathered across the width of the veil. There are 3 main types of gather for a 2 tier veil:
Standard gather or centre gather – a central section of the width is gathered up onto the comb leaving some length at the sides.
Full gather – the full width of the fabric is gathered onto the comb creating a more bouffant veil with maximum volume.
No gather or flat veil – the veil is not gathered at all and just drapes over the head. It can be attached to a comb, worn under a flower crown or halo or (as in the case of Kate Middleton) sewn to the rear of a tiara or headdress.
Gather is worth noting particularly if you have lots of detail at the back of your dress. A heavily gathered veil can obscure while a flatter veil is much more transparent so you can see all the lovely detail through the veil.
Single tier veils by definition can only be fully gathered, although if you want less gather ask your veil maker to have it narrow or slim cut. If you want no gather but only one tier what you are after is a mantilla.
Mantillas are usually lace edged and curve down the side of the head and round the shoulders in an elongated oval shape. They can be very elegant and look particularly great with column style slim fitting dresses.
Various embellishments can be added to a veil including scattered crystals, pearls, delicate beading and even silk petals or flowers.
Veils can come with many different edges from tiny pencil edges to simple satin edges through to elaborate lace edges. It is important to think carefully about which edging will work with your dress, a veil with a wide lace edge may be too much with an all over lace dress but would look fabulous with a very plain dress.
Edgeless or cut edge veils work well with all dresses and can be particularly useful for shorter veils where a line edge would cut across any detailed area on the back of your dress.
Birdcage veils are a great alternative to traditional veils and can lend a more fun whimsical air. They are perfect for a 40s/50s style dress but also work with lots of other styles. They can be plain or incorporated into a headdress and come in a variety of different fabrics including traditional tulle (often just referred to as a face veil), Russian netting & French netting.
Both Russian and French netting have an open diamond shape pattern to them, Russian is usually a little stiffer than the French but can vary from manufacturer and can sometimes come with the option chenille dots. They are available in a wide range of colours and can be full face, half face or bandeau style.
Vintage style veils are very on trend at the moment and a particular current inspiration for veil makers are the veils of the 1920s and 30s. Juliet cap veils are ones that have a close fitting cap area, sometimes with lace or ribbons over the head, usually gathered at the sides, occasionally at the back. Think those recently sported by Kate Moss and Lily Allen or a few decades earlier by the Queen Mother!
They can look very soft and romantic and work extremely well with boho style dresses. Another popular vintage style is the lace cap. It is a super cute look but not for everyone, definitely another one for the boho bride. It can be a whole cap or tied or bandeau style. Some can also be worn with a traditional veil in the back. As worn by Anne Hathaway.
I hope this has helped to make choosing your veil less confusing. Whether you are contemplating a regal cathedral length veil or fun birdcage veil there are many options available within each type of veil to enhance your dress and help you create your personal wedding day style and while some may choose not to wear a veil, many women say that it is a veil that makes them feel like ‘a bride’!
So, as it is the only time you will get to wear one do make sure you take the opportunity to try a few different styles on as there really is a veil for almost everyone!
Each Wednesday on our blog we share ideas that we have found that you might find useful when planning your wedding. If you have an idea that you would like us to feature, please contact us.