Top Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Veil

Veils are the iconic bridal accessory, but with so many options to choose from, how do you know which one’s right for you and right with your wedding dress? Follow these tips to perfectly top off your look.
by Libby MacCarthy
Bride with lace veil and diamond engagement ring
photo by Eric Kelley

Find the Right Length

To find the perfect match for your wedding style, start by considering length. Test out a variety of options when you go for your first dress fitting to see what length works best with your gown. That means finding a style that complements your overall silhouette—you don't want your veil to break up the flow of your look. Designers will often make veils tailored specifically for their dresses, so you can use these as a starting point. Shorter veils, like bandeaus, birdcages and blushers, tend to lend a bit more personality as well as an informal or retro edge to your look, while longer veils (ballet, chapel and cathedral styles) lean more in the way of tradition and formality (but are also the most universally flattering). If you can't find one that you love, you can always go the custom route. Many companies will create a veil to your specifications, from the length to the color and the kind of embellishments.

Choose a Complementary Color

Color blocking is best left to your day-to-day look. When it comes to your wedding, you should aim to match the color of the veil to your wedding gown. And since photos may not accurately portray the correct color, be sure to bring a swatch of fabric from your dress when you go veil shopping. The one exception to this rule? Antique veils. You shouldn't try dying an antique veil. As long as the colors are close enough don't worry if they're not a 100 percent match—the appeal of an heirloom style is in its uniqueness, so it won't matter if it's slightly off in color.

Strike the Right Balance

As a general rule, if your wedding dress is heavily embellished, your veil should be clean and simple, with minimal (if any) extras. And vice versa: A simple, streamlined gown allows you to be a bit more adventurous. Feel free to play around with unexpected shapes, accents and textures, like a floral embellished chapel-length veil, a lace cap or a couture-inspired bubble veil with over-the-top volume. Try to create a balance as well when it comes to the type of embellishments—while they don't have to match the ones on your dress exactly, they should complement them in color, size and style. A glam sequined veil, for instance, would feel out of place next to a romantic gown embroidered with tiny pearls.

Pick the Perfect Fabric

You can't go wrong with tulle -- it's the classic choice for veils -- but depending on the look you're after, there are also a variety of other materials to consider, such as lace, silk and satin. In most cases, tulle is the most budget-friendly option, and it offers a few benefits over pricier fabrics—synthetic materials like tulle tend to keep their shape better and have a lighter, airier look than silk and satin, which are more likely to appear heavy and hang straight.

Envision Your Hairstyle

Before you decide on a veil, consider how you plan on wearing your hair on your wedding day—the style you choose may affect your final veil decision. For example, halo veils, bridal caps and mantilla veils work best when hair is worn down or in low updos, while blushers and birdcages are much more versatile and can be worn with most hairstyles. Your hairstyle might also affect where you place the veil and how you secure it. If you're wearing your hair up, you can wear the veil above or below a bun or chignon. Pinning it above gives it more volume and achieves a more classic look, while placing it below feels more modern and keeps the focus on your stylish updo. Once you've purchased your veil, don't forget to take it (along with any other hair accessories you plan to wear) to your trial appointments, so you and your stylist can find the perfect 'do (and there won't be any last-minute surprises!).

Allow for Accessories

It's not just your hairstyle that can affect the type of veil you choose but hair accessories too. A voluminous fountain veil, for example, isn't going to pair well with an equally dramatic tiara. Instead, classic styles, like elbow, cathedral, chapel or fingertip length, look best with a royal topper or a beaded or crystal headband. Mantillas are traditionally worn with an ornate comb; halo veils need a wreath, headband or cap to hold them in place; and blushers and birdcage styles go great with unique accents, like a feather clip or a floral barrette. You can use your accessories to hold your veil in place or keep the two separate and attach the veil to your hairstyle with a clear comb, which won't be visible.

Highlight Your Rear View

Does the back of your wedding gown have a lace panel, an intricate cutout or some other beautiful, decorative detail? Don't hide it under too many layers of tulle or a wall of heavy satin fabric—instead, opt for a super-sheer veil with just one or two layers to let those gorgeous details shine through.

Go for Easy On, Easy Off

If you plan to remove your veil after the ceremony but want to leave your headpiece on for the reception, attach your veil with fabric hook and loop closures for easy on and off. Keep in mind: If you remove your veil before the reception, it won't appear in pictures of the first dance or the cake cutting. If you choose a cathedral, chapel or ballet veil and would like to keep it on postceremony, try a multilayered version with a fingertip-length top layer. That way, you can detach the floor-length layers and keep that classic bridal look—but you'll be able to move and dance around with ease.

Get Camera Ready

Whether you want to flaunt your veil or keep it tucked away, be mindful that how you decide to wear your veil will affect how much or how little of it you'll see in your wedding photos. If you attach it with a backpiece, then little, if any, of the veil will show up in your photos. This is a good option if you want to keep the focus on your hairstyle or jewelry.

Consider "Something Borrowed"

Want to wear your mom's veil but afraid it's dated? Give it a face-lift. Take it to a trusted tailor and see if they can rework the trim, embellishments and/or length so it's more to your taste. Or, if the veil has seen better days but you love its vintage style, look into having it restored to bring it back to its former glory, or use pieces of it to create something new, yet vintage-inspired.

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