Veiled Beauties: Origins and Styles of a Classic Wedding Look
Like something old and something new, veils are a traditional part of a bridal ensemble. Their origins can be traced to superstition—Ancient Greeks and Romans feared spirits and demons, and believed they would chase brides up to the altar to steal her from her betrothed. Veils were meant to conceal the bride from these evil forces, and the tradition of ‘giving away the bride’ was a means to prevent her from tripping and falling because the thick fabric obstructed her sight. Today, some say it’s bad luck for a groom to see a bride until she reaches the altar; others believe a bride should stay hidden until the ceremony ends to seem pure or demure; and still others see the lifting of the veil as the bride’s shining moment, where her beauty is finally revealed to her groom and guests. No matter the reason, embracing the veil tradition infuses elegance and allure to a bridal look.
Birdcage: These retro veils were at the height of popularity in the 1950s; they offer just enough mystery while also leaving the face visible to guests. Pair a birdcage veil with a feather fascinator or vintage brooch, or wear it by itself for a minimalist look.
Blusher: A blusher veil can be worn with or without a longer veil covering the hair. The blusher covers a bride’s face and was originally more of a conservative choice. The father of the bride might pull the veil off his daughter’s face before they walk down the aisle, or the groom will lift it before their first kiss.
Flyaway: Aptly named for their flowing shape, flyaway veils are multi-layered and fall behind the hair just past the shoulders. They are a more casual, understated choice.
Elbow: Also popular in the 1950s, elbow veils often have a fabric edging. They cover the shoulders and end just past the elbows.
Fingertip: This cape-style choice covers more hair than do other veils, and end around the wrist or fingertips. Kate Middleton brought this style back into fashion in 2011, when she wore an embroidered face-framing veil to her wedding.
Ballet / Waltz: This veil falls just above the knee or ankle, and is a lovely choice for brides who want the look of a long veil without choosing one that reaches the ground.
Chapel / Sweep / Full Length: A true classic, the chapel veil touches the floor and is often made of dreamy tulle. A chapel veil is an ethereal, dramatic choice for a traditional bride.
Cathedral: Cathedral veils are long, show-stopping, and romantic. They trail behind the bride, creating a never-ending silhouette, and are traditionally worn in a religious setting.
Juliet: This veil was all the rage in the 1920s and 30s, when brides were glamorous and demure. The veil fabric is shaped into a bonnet-style cap worn tightly over the head, with more veil fabric or lace cascading from the back edge.
Mantilla: These unconventional beauties are worn draped across the head, with no real shape or structure. They can also be a covering for a bun or updo, draped similarly but further back on the head.
Headwrap: A favorite among bohemian, modern brides, the headwrap style veil is effortless and easy to dress up or down.