Which veil should I wear? A guide to bridal veil lengths

There are so many things to think about when you’re getting married, with many being things you’ve never had to think about before. You may’ve given wedding dresses a thought, or the kind of wedding you’d see yourself having, but some of the less obvious factors can be a little confusing. Take bridal veils- back in the day you’d choose your dress before simply choosing a veil to match, from the small selection the bridal shop offered. There was arguably more of an etiquette then too as to when one wore a veil and what its style should be.

Nowadays however there are so many options and we’re not as lead by tradition and etiquette. Whilst this ‘anything goes’ freedom is great in terms of being able to create any look you want, it can be tricky as you just have so much choice! So where do you start? Do you want/ need to wear a veil and if so, which length of veil should you wear? Worry not, we’re here to help with this brief guide to bridal veils…

Cathedral length veil style PBV9035
Cathedral length veil style PBV9035

Why does a bride wear a veil?

Traditionally veils were worn to keep the the bride’s face covered because it was considered bad luck for the groom to see her before the ceremony. The bride would walk down the aisle with her face covered and originally this would be revealed at the alter either by the father of the bride, in a sweet nod to handing her over to her husband to be, or she could keep her face covered throughout the ceremony, only removing her veil when the couple were ready for their first married kiss.

The tradition of not seeing your bride or groom to be before the ceremony is still followed to some extent, with most couples staying separately the night before the wedding. However veils are definitely worn more as an accessory now, as another way for the bride to style her look. 

What length veil should I wear?

Originally the thought was that the bigger the venue, the bigger the veil should be. There’s a reason the royal family wear cathedral (and even longer!) length veils when they get married in Westminster Abbey! Long veils are named after venues- chapel and church length- and there is something about the grand nature of these venues which lends itself to these more traditional, dramatic veils. That said we’re big believers in wearing what makes you feel good, so if you’re having a civil ceremony and have always wanted a Princess Diana length veil, we say do it!

Having said that, in many cases a shorter veil can be more suited to a less traditional or smaller venue, such as a hotel or purpose built wedding venue as opposed to a church. Shorter veil lengths tend to be named after parts of the body, such as fingertip, elbow and waist length, and we’d recommend looking at the style of the dress itself when deciding which of these to go for. Your dress will naturally have a focus point- whether that’s how it fits the body or a design feature or embellishment. Your veil should compliment this without detracting any attention from it- ask your bridal shop for their guidance and between you you’ll find the perfect length veil for you.

Shorter length veil style PBV9014
Shorter length veil style PBV9014

What are the different wedding veil lengths?

We’ve mentioned a fair few wedding veil lengths already, so it’s about time we explained what they all are! Whilst veils come in all different lengths, these are the classic options bridal brands and shops will refer to, so you can get to know what they’re talking about (and what you’re looking for!).

Shoulder Length

Let’s start with the shortest option, the short and sweet shoulder length veil. These tend to be around 50cm long and as the name suggests, sit comfortably at shoulder height. Shoulder length veils are great if you want a nod to tradition, without your veil being the main focus.

Elbow Length

For a stylish shorter option, an elbow length veil is the perfect choice. Sitting at around 60-63cm in length, there’s enough fabric to add elegance to your look, but they’re versatile and easy to wear. Shorter elbow and shoulder length veils work particularly well for a more vintage sixties look- think tea length dresses and polka dot!

Style PBV9062 is the perfect elbow length
Style PBV9062 is the perfect elbow length at 60cm

Waist Length

Obviously every bride is a different height and whether your veil actually ends at waist length will depend where on the head you wear it, but typically waist length veils are around 75-76cm. They’re the perfect shorter option when you want to wear a veil but want something easy to wear and perhaps a little more modern looking. 

Choose style PBV9032 for your waist length veil
Style PBV9032 in waist length 75cm

Fingertip Length

Fingertip length veils are a firm favourite for many brides as they’re long enough to give an air of tradition, but not so long that you have to think about them as you might with a longer option. They can be single or double layer and come in so many different styles and designs, you can choose the perfect one to complete your look.

Style PBV9003 in 90cm is an elegant fingertip length
Style PBV9003 in 90cm is an elegant fingertip length

Floor Length

Usually around 190- 200cm long, a floor length veil is the shortest of the long veil family. They reach the floor but without much excess, so don’t create the pooling effect of their longer contemporaries. Floor length veils work well with slightly more slimline dresses which don’t have a train.

Lace edged style PBV9034 in 150cm
Lace edged style PBV9034 in 150cm

Chapel Length

A chapel length veil is elegantly long- typically around 245cm- and extends beyond the length of the dress but isn’t quite a long as cathedral length. They are a really popular option as not only do they add a classic touch to your look, they also create some wonderful photo opportunities. 

Floor length style PBV9053 at 220cm with subtle glitter
Chapel length style PBV9053 at 220cm with subtle glitter

Cathedral Length

The longest veil option, a cathedral veil is the most statement choice, adding a definite feel of occasion to your look. Cathedral veils extend past the hem of the dress and create a beautiful classic bridal look. Typically around 290cm- 300cm, there is plenty of fabric to create an elegant pool on the ground, which also looks great in photographs. 

Cathedral length veil style PBV9030
Cathedral length veil style PBV9030

What is the blusher layer?

This rather demure description is the name given to the layer of the veil which would traditionally be worn over the bride’s face during the ceremony (or at least down the aisle, as we described earlier). Traditionally all veils would have been two tier to include a blusher layer, but with so many brides opting not to do this now, a single tier veil is now an equally, if not more popular choice.

When should I wear a veil?

If you opt to wear a veil you’ll obviously wear it for your ceremony and most likely throughout the wedding breakfast. Whether or not you wear it for your evening reception is entirely up to you! If you’ve opted for a long veil it’s probably best to take it off, so you have more freedom for that dancefloor, but if you have a shorter option and like the way it looks, there’s nothing to stop you keeping it on all night- it really is up to you!

What about coloured veils?

One of the hottest veils trends for 2024 is coloured veils and we are totally here for it! Colour has made it’s way into wedding shoes and even wedding dresses, so it’s only natural you can now choose to introduce a pop of colour with your bridal veil! Go for a soft pastel colour such a blush pink or mint green for a subtle feature or even a pale blue and make it your ‘something blue’!

Go for coloured veil style PBV9064 as your something blue
Go for coloured veil style PBV9064 as your something blue

Click here to shop our full bridal veil collection. 

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