There’s a lot to know about wedding veils, from what one symbolises, the different styles available, when it gets lifted, and by who… who knew a veil could hold so much mystery! Read everything you need to know here about wearing a veil at your wedding below.
The history of wedding veils
Wedding veils date back to northern European, pre-Christian, Pagan societies when they were worn to ward off evil spirits.
In Greece, for example, brides were wrapped in a bright red veil and the father-of-the-bride would guide her down the aisle. This act of being ‘given away’ is embedded in modern culture, but it wasn’t about protection for all faiths. Some religions, such as Judaism, believed that a face covering was symbolic for the groom marrying his wife-to-be for her inner beauty rather than her physical appearance, and many also saw this as a way of showing respect and modesty before God.
As you can see, veils have great religious significance, but they have also become a status symbol. So, what are the different fashions when it comes to bridal veils?
Wedding veil styles
Lengths & Gathering
The three most popular types of veil gatherings: full, centre and drop.
In terms of length, veils can be worn long or short (from shoulder length to cathedral length, for example, and anywhere in between). Most veils are made to a standard width, but the length (measured from the comb) will vary depending on your height, the length of your dress ad your chosen style. The 7 most popular sizes are:
45” and shorter (Bandeau/Birdcage) to shoulder length – think vintage 50s/60s and for the more daring bride
54” – waist/elbow length – works with most dresses styles, simple and pretty
72” – hip/fingertip length – this is a versatile length, looks best with narrow dresses
90” –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 – romantic but not to over the top.
126” – chapel length – look great with most styles of dresses!
144” – cathedral length – definitely the wow factor, think Princes Di (well not quite as long)!
As with a wedding dress, the colour of your veil is all down to personal choice. That said, there are some traditional colours for bridal face coverings in the UK which are pure white, ivory and blush. But this doesn’t mean to say that colourful veils aren’t an option! Many companies offer beautiful pastel toned veils and some can even personalise your material with embellishments of your choice.
As above, most wedding veils are simple in tone to match the bridal gown, however, since it is an accessory, you can go all out with texture to add a little something extra to your outfit.
For instance (and especially if you have a understated dress), you might like to choose lace or an embroidered material as your fabric. What’s more, you can opt for a statement edging made from soft velvet or even pompoms. Macrame veils, which are made from string woven into patterns, are very popular at bohemian weddings.
The cost of a wedding veil
As you can imagine, the cost of a wedding veil can vary significantly depending on the length, quality of materials, personalisation, single/double tier and more. As such, veils can cost anywhere from £50 up to hundreds of pounds.
Who lifts the wedding veil and when?
Traditionally, the father-of-the-bride lifts the veil once he and the bride reach the end of the aisle, allowing her to clearly see the ceremony taking place. If the bride does not have a father, then of course whoever walked her down the aisle and ‘gives her away’ can do this job, as well as the maid of honour.
Some brides, however, prefer to wait until they have exchanged vows before allowing their husband to lift the veil to share a kiss.
Are veils worn in the evening?
There are no hard and fast rules about veils being worn in the evening. If it’s a short veil that won’t get in your way then you might be tempted to keep it on but we’d imagine that brides with long trailing veils may want to remove theirs to keep it clean and undamaged by feet on the dance-floor!
How to store a wedding veil
On the subject of keeping your veil clean, you like many before you might be wondering how to store a veil to stop it collecting dust in the months prior to the wedding.