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A Guide to Wedding Veils

Of all the wedding traditions of past, few carry the timeless elegance and symbolic weight of the wedding veil. Spanning centuries and cultures, the veil has remained a quintessential accessory, adding a touch of mystery, romance, and beauty to the bride's ensemble.


The tradition of veiling the bride predates written history, with roots from across the world. In ancient Rome, brides wore vibrant red veils called 'flammeum' to ward off evil spirits and protect their purity. Meanwhile, in ancient Greece, veils served as a symbol of modesty and obedience to the groom.


© Alexandra Arlett Photography
© Alexandra Arlett Photography

During the Middle Ages, veils took on religious significance, symbolizing the bride's purity and her transition into married life. In some cultures, they were believed to protect against the evil eye or demons. It wasn't until the Victorian era that the white wedding veil, symbolizing innocence and purity, became popularized by Queen Victoria.


Wedding veils come in a range of styles, lengths and fabrics, each adding its own unique flair to the bridal ensemble. Here are some popular styles:


  • Elbow or fingertip length - really common for brides with very detailed dresses so as the intricate skirts and trains are not too hidden. These veils are very classic and versatile, complementing a variety of gown styles without overwhelming the silhouette. Advantages include being lighter, and easy to wear for the whole day and evening as it doesn't get in the way with people treading on it.

  • Chapel or cathedral length - regal and dramatic, these veils are there to make a statement! Extending beyond the train of the wedding gown, it creates a breathtaking silhouette and are a real pièce de résistance to the bridal look. Brides don't tend to keep these on for the evening though as they aren't very practical, but do look incredible in photos!

© Weddings by Emma Olivia Photography
© Weddings by Emma Olivia Photography
  • Two-tier veils (or a blusher veil) - As per the name, these veils have two tiers to them. The top tier is alot shorter, usually sit about the mid-back, and the bottom tier is longer. Until fairly recently, the top tier was always worn over the face during the ceremony, adding an aura of mystique and is often lifted by the groom during the kiss. Now typically, if the veil is worn over the face, it is lifted as the bride approaches the top of the aisle to meet the groom. Two tier veils can look stunning against a fairly clean and simplely designed dress, as they add volume and texture to the back, whilst looking extremely classy.

  • Birdcage veil - For brides seeking a vintage-inspired look, the birdcage veil offers retro glamour. Crafted from netting or lace, it covers only a portion of the face, evoking a sense of old Hollywood charm. The comb sitting on top of the head, these veils can be embellished with various accessories. A chic alternative to a traditional bridal veil.


Ultimately, a veil is different for every bride. For some, they dream of that photo with the veil flying before them in the wind, whereas others prefer a simple, classic fingertip veil as to not outdo their wedding dress. However and whichever veil is worn, it's evident that this timeless accessory continues to captivate brides.

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