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Hello, sweet readers! We’ve got a real fun feature for you today – Veils 101! We’re talking all you’ve always wanted to know about veil lengths, styles and how exactly to attach these pretties without them digging into your brain! (OK, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s definitely something to avoid!). There is a plethora of veil styles and lengths to choose from, and then there is always the option to nix the veil and go with a fascinator or hair bow (for my lovely non-Southern readers, a “hair bow” means any type of bow, feather, or anything fabulous that clips into your hair).

But for this post, we’re assuming you’ve chosen to wear a veil, and we’ll start by walking you through the most common lengths. First up we’ve got some adorable short styles, also known as fascinators, birdcage veils or flyaways. Traditionally, a “birdcage” veil is a short net or tulle piece that covers only the bride’s eyes. Now we see lots of twists on the traditional birdcage, with flowers and/or feathers attached to the veil, as well. These fancy add-ons, or fascinators, come in all shapes and sizes, from feathers and rhinestones on a barrette to a large pouf of tulle on a comb (seen below in our V4 Southern Exits shoot). Last of the short veils is the flyaway, which is a multi-layer veil of billowing tulle traditionally with natural cut edges and lots of body at the crown.

All images are from fabulous SW features: Kate Byars (see more of this floral stunner here), Corbin Gurkin via our Sweet Southern Exits V4 shoot, Tina Bass (see the rest of this beauty here)

Up next we have the simple, yet classically elegant elbow-length veil. Elbow-length is a great option if you want to wear a veil, but don’t want the the weight or fuss of a long veil. This style is perfect for day weddings or more casual affairs.

Image credit from left to right: Braedon Fynn (see the rest of this lovely fest here) and Paul Johnson (more here).

Next is the fingertip veil. This veil ends right at the ends of your hands when you have your arms down by your sides. It’s a perfect option for brides who are looking for an intermediate style veil. It’s fancier than its shorter counterparts, but not as dramatic as the longer options. If you’re looking to add a little oomph to this veil, opt for a lace-edged option, as seen below.

Image credit from left to right and top to bottom: Adam Barnes (see this Virginia stunner here), Ali Harper (see the rest of this lovely affair here), and Heidi from Our Labor of Love (for more of this beauty go here).

The waltz veil is up next. This sweet and stylish option falls between your knees and ankles and allows the best of both worlds – a long-ish formal veil, with the ability to have some fun dancing the night away on the dance floor.

Image credit from left to right: Veil and Bow (more of this Charleston wedding here) and Jaimie Clayton (see the rest of this farm wedding here).

Up next, the chapel length veil. (I love this look!) The chapel length veil reaches to the floor and extends up to three feet past the hem of your gown. This length is a very romantic look, and is great for formal black tie weddings.

Image credit: Studio A Photography (see the gallery for this Alabama wedding here).

Last, but certainly not least, we have the cathedral length veil. As a vintage cathedral length veil bride myself, I am quite partial to this look. Cathedral length veils are formal and oh-so-Southern. They extend way beyond the hem of your gown for a dramatic look. Cathedral length veils are most appropriate for formal church or large venue weddings. I don’t suggest wearing them for outdoor weddings, as the wind might cause you some grief! P.S. Keep in mind that a veil of this length is a bit high-maintenance, but you always have the option to remove it post-ceremony.

Image credit: A Bryan Photo (see Katharine’s Harvard soirée here).

If you’re after a traditional look, opt for an add-on blusher. A blusher is the veil that covers your face during the first part of the ceremony and is flipped back either by your father as he gives you away, or later by your beau before the oh-so-fabulous kiss-the-bride moment. Adding a blusher brings drama and romanticism to any veil. But, be sure to choose one that falls at least an inch above or below the neckline of your wedding gown.

Image credit: Heidi from Our Labor of Love (for more of this beauty go here).

So now you know exactly which veil length you love, but you’re still stumped as to how to secure it to your hair. I’ve been there. Since my veil was vintage, it actually had velcro as the attachment (originally created to attach to a pillbox hat). My crafty mama was able to remove the velcro and attach a clear comb. Clear plastic combs are my favorite way to attach a veil. They are easily hidden, and don’t press into your scalp as bobby pins have the tendency to do. Veils also come on barrettes, bobby pins or on metal combs. My suggestion? Bring your veil or headpiece to your hair trial. This is so important. Your hairstylist will be able to best advise on how to attach this beauty to your hairdo and how to hide the attachment within a bun, curls or updo. Whatever you choose, be sure that if you plan on removing your veil you have a trusty friend/maid/planner that was advised by your hairstylist how to safely remove the veil without making a your hair go a mock!

Image credit from top to bottom and left to right: 13:13 Photography (for the rest of this Florida wedding take a gander here), Belethee Photography (see the rest of this wedding here), and Abby Jiu (enjoy this wedding here).

After all these lessons in Veils 101, we thought we’d leave you with these lovely veil images! Boy, aren’t they pretty!

Image credit from left to right: Paul Johnson (see the wedding featuring my favorite bridesmaid’s dresses here) and Tanja Lippert (read why Emily chose her to photograph her own wedding).

What length veil will you or did you wear? Why did you choose that length?

Looking for more Southern Style inspiration?
Cardigan and Tights Shopping Guide
Classic White Shoe Shopping Guide
Mixed Bridesmaid Dresses Shopping Guide

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I am not 100% sure yet, but I think I’ll be wearing a cathedral or chapel length veil, with a blusher. My future sister-in-law (my fiance’s sister, who is getting married two months before us!) and I are going to share a veil!

    • avatar Mary reply

      Emily: that is so special that you are going to share your veil! I want to wear a chapel length veil too! I think they are so exquisite!

  2. avatar Annie reply

    When I was looking for dresses, people asked if I wanted a veil and I hadn’t put much thought into it. Then I tried on a veil at a particular store (with the dress I ended up buying) and knew that’s how I wanted to look. It just felt right. The veil I chose had two layers–one elbow-length and the other waltz-length. Both parts were very simple and combined well. I think it’s something that’s such a personal choice–brides can look awesome with or without the veil, and it could just hit you at the moment you try it on. Fantastic description of all the different types, Southern Weddings!

  3. avatar uberbrides reply

    What a great post – I never knew all those veil details.

  4. avatar Lilliette reply

    I just had a few questions about cathedral style veils, I have always dreamed of getting married in one, but I don’t want to go too far overboard… How large does your church need to be if you want a full length cathedral veil? is it okay to wear a cathedral veil for the ceremony and switch to a similarly decorated chapel or waltz veil for the reception so it doesn’t get stepped on? and how late does your wedding need to be for a cathedral veil to be alright?

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Lilliette! To answer your questions, I don’t think there’s a hard-and-fast standard for exactly how large a church needs to be to wear a cathedral-length veil — I’d say if you want to wear one, go for it! It’s definitely okay to switch to a shorter veil – or no veil at all – for the reception. Finally, cathedral veils are appropriate for any time of day!

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