“The dress makes the wedding but the veil makes the bride,” explains Alison Miller, creative director of label Monvieve, whose couture veils in champagne and ivory lace all but sold out during the brand’s trunkshow on Moda Operandi last year. “When I watch women put on a veil, it’s literally in that moment that all the emotion comes out. It’s when they realise they’re a bride-to-be. We’ve all worn white gowns in our lives of some kind – to the beach or a cocktail party – but really few women have ever worn a veil before.” In recent times, Miller has outfitted British model-turned-DJ Harley Viera-Newton for her wedding to DJ Ross Schwartzman in a custom, floor-length mantilla veil that she paired with a vintage Valentinogown to low-key, bohemian effect. “[Brides] sense it, from the moment they put it on throughout the bridal arc, it’s an accessory that creates moments. And, of course, they make the most beautiful photographs.”
Timothy Long, curator of fashion at the Museum of London, agrees. “The use of the veil is a component of tradition, of connecting to the overall look of a bride. Without a veil you could be in just another dress.” So interconnected is the veil with the dress that for many designers it is a process done simultaneously. “I always design a veil in tandem with a dress,” says bridal designer Reem Acra. “For me, a veil completes the bridal look, as well as adding emotion to the wedding ceremony. I love it when veils incorporate elements of the dress, especially embroidery and beautiful detailing.” Couturier Paolo Sebastien adds, “What I love about couture and working with clients is that every bride is different – in some cases the veil simply completes a look and in others it is unquestionably the starting point of planning.”
How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Veil
When it comes to selecting your own wedding veil, look around for inspiration. At the Spring 2019 Bridal Fashion Week, designers such as Temperley London, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad honoured floaty, traditional tulle confections; Viktor & Rolf featured reams of veils layered to the point of opacity; and Reem Acra showcased options blossoming with appliqué lotus flowers alongside crowns piled high with fresh blooms. As for the practical details… Make sure you try several veils at your dress fitting to ensure a cohesive look. An elaborately decorated dress calls for a veil that is plain and simple and vice versa – and your veil should frame and flatter your dress rather than competing with it. Budget-wise, note that a simple option can begin around the £200 mark and go well up into four figures. And don’t forget to take your veil to your hair trial, so that there are no surprises on the day.
8 Wedding Veil Types To Know
The shortest veil in length at about four to nine inches, the Birdcage style rose in popularity in the 1940s and 1950s when netting was attached to a pillbox hat or a hair disc. A low-fuss option, it is simple, lightweight and easy to manage.
The layer of tulle that a bride flips forward, over her face, when walking down the aisle. Typically 30 inches in length, the size and shape varies depending on placement.
Dramatic and historically classic, this style is most often a small, open-work mesh or crochet style made with two layers gathered at either side to create a “cap” over the head. Often embellished with pearls, flowers or jewels to be either a standalone piece or part of a longer veil – as was the case with Kate Moss.
Made famous by the Duchess of Cambridge, the fingertip veil is a more formal style of veil, designed to float around the bride, falling at the fingertips.
A classic, romantic option, the Waltz (or Ballet) veil is so called because, unlike the floor-sweeping Cathedral and Chapel lengths, the wearer can still dance in it, as it falls between knee and ankle.
A Spanish-style veil cut into an oval shape with a lace border, falling over the head and shoulders to reach Fingertip or Cathedral length, offering a bohemian aesthetic as per Harley Viera-Newton’s aisle style.
Reaching all the way to the ground, this style may have a drape but no train. Sitting on the more formal end of the veil spectrum, a Chapel style is elegant, romantic and very traditional.
For a regal entrance, this is the most formal of all the styles, generally reserved for the grandest of ceremonies and royalty – think Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco or Princess Diana’s eight-metre train. A Cathedral’s minimum length begins at 2.5 metres and continues for a train that is longer than the dress itself.