Do You Have to Wear a Veil on Your Wedding Day? Here's Our Take

Industry experts weigh in on this common fashion question.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated May 25, 2021

Deciding what to wear on your wedding day is one of the most important decisions you'll make. And if you'll be wearing a dress, you might wonder if you should also have a veil to complete your wedding attire. Wearing a wedding veil was once rooted in tradition, but the fashion choice has evolved over the years. Some brides may still prefer to wear a veil as an homage to its original intention, while others might just prefer the look it creates. Plus, with so many veil shapes—from ethereal cathedrals to vintage birdcages—there are plenty of styles that'll enhance and complement your dress. But since wedding fashion is deeply personal, you might wonder if a veil is necessary for your wedding (especially if you don't like the look of it, or if its symbolism doesn't resonate with you).

So, if you're not sure if you have to wear a veil on your wedding day, we're here to help. Read on to learn more about the purpose of a wedding veil from industry fashion experts, along with their take on whether or not this accessory is a must for your big day.

Should you have a veil for your wedding?

As you're trying on wedding outfits, your stylist or fashion consultant will likely ask if you want to wear a veil. Here's the good news: the decision is completely up to you. "There is certainly no rule when it comes to wearing a veil on your special day," says Megan Ziems, founder of Grace Loves Lace. "A veil can be an extension of your wedding gown, or you can forego the trend completely. It really depends on what makes you feel most confident and empowered." Adds Laurie Underwood, founder of Laury Bride: "Being a bride today is all about dressing as you want to when you walk down the aisle to the love of your life."

One thing to consider is that a veil can enhance the look of your wedding outfit. In fact, one of the biggest pros of wearing a wedding veil is that it can easily transform your look from the ceremony to the reception. Plus, trying on veils can actually help you narrow down your wedding day vision if you're not sure where to start. "We always encourage our brides to select a veil that compliments their gown and matches the overall theme of their wedding," says Ziems. "We often find that our brides come in with a vision to match their veil to the fabrication of their dress, but once experimenting with different textures, they're often inspired to bring some creativity to their look through various dimensions and overlays. We always encourage our brides to try on an array of veils with their chosen gown to embody different looks and see what style they feel most confident in."

What's the purpose of a wedding veil?

The purpose of a wedding veil can actually be traced back to Greecian tradition. "Wedding veils are one of the most historic pieces of the bridal ensemble, and the tradition is said to have arisen from the ancient Greeks," Ziems explains. "Historically, veils were used to represent modesty and purity in religious ceremonies." Adds wedding dress designer Madeline Gardner: "It was thought that the veil kept away evil spirits. It was also worn so that the bride's face was hidden from the groom."

Today, though, veils aren't as closely tied to their original meaning. While you can wear a wedding veil for religious or traditional reasons, you can also wear it just because you like the look it offers. "The meaning has since evolved, and veils are now seen as a modern accessory to help capture the true essence and personal style of every bride," Ziems says.

If a veil is right for you, there are plenty of styles to choose from that'll help you truly customize your wedding look. "From cathedral length to fingertip, vintage-style blushers and birdcage veils, brides have a lot of veil options to complete any look they're going for," says Gardner. Those looking for a veil alternative might prefer a headpiece, like a trendy headband or an embellished clip to provide a small pop of shimmer or color without fully committing to a veil. "I recommend that brides look at veil alternatives such as birdcage headpieces, floral and crystal crowns, or a barrette or pin to dress up their hairstyle," suggests Underwood.

If you're on the fence about whether or not you want to wear a veil on your wedding day, one thing to consider is that a veil or headpiece will pop in wedding photos. "Many wedding day pictures are taken from the waist up, so it's nice to see a little touch sparkle," says Gardner.

Ultimately, though, your wedding outfit should make you feel your very best, with or without a veil. "It's your special day, so you should feel comfortable in whatever you choose to wear," says Gardner. "Whether you opt for a long veil, a shorter style, or a beautiful headpiece, stay true to your wedding day vision and go with what makes you look and feel your best."

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