A Guide to Bridal Veils

A bride wearing a veil over her face.

To many brides, a veil is more than an accessory—it’s an entire statement piece. Although a veil is certainly not required when it comes to your wedding day look, it can be the perfect complement to a dress. Hence, a bride-to-be is always encouraged to at least try a few veils on. If you’ve already started shopping for a veil, you may be confused by all the different terms for lengths and styles. Luckily for you, this guide should help get you acquainted with some of the most commonly used lingo for bridal veils.

Basic Veil Terms

A bride wearing a short birdcage veil.

Style specifics aside, veil anatomy comes down to several basic terms:

Single-Tier vs. Two-Tier

Veils come in two basic types: single-tier and two-tier. Single-tier veils consist of one layer that extends from the crown of the head and down the back. Two-tier veils have both a front and back section.

Blusher

A blusher is the front section of the veil. It’s the part that is raised across the face during the ceremony.

Gather

This is the top section of the veil and refers to how the veil is attached to the head. The gather is important because it changes how the veil lays. A veil can have no gather, be center gathered, or be fully gathered. A center gather is the most popular because it creates a beautiful cascading look, but can only be done on a two-tiered veil. Fully gathered veils can be done with both single and multi-layer veils.

Cut-Edge vs. Semi-Edge vs. Full-Edge

This describes the design on the ends of the veil. Cut-edge veils are the most simple and have no design. Full-edge veils have some sort of design, such as lace, ribbon, or beading, all around the edges. Thus, semi-edges veils have only a partial design, usually more at the front or just near the face.

Style Terms

A bride wearing a shorter veil.

There are some popular veil styles that have earned their own nicknames. You might recognize a few of these.

Drop Veil

Also known as a circle veil, the drop veil has no gather and falls flat over the head. It has both a front and back, and is attached by a comb or other accessory. Kate Middleton wore a drop veil for her wedding.

Spanish Veil (AKA Mantilla Veil)

This is another veil with no gather, consisting of only a single tier. There is no front part. It’s draped a few inches beyond the hairline in a way that lightly covers the shoulders. In many traditional styles, there is lace around the edges, but other variations exist as well.

Drape Veil

A draped veil is attached by two separate combs to the hair with a brake in between. It can consist of one or two parts. This is an excellent choice if you have a dress with back detailing, as it allows you to show it off.

Juliet Veil

Dating back to the 16th century, the Juliet veil has a classic English look. The main idea is that it is wrapped to the hair like a cap and can be attached in one or two places to the head.

Bandeau Veil

The bandeau veil is a small veil that just covers the eyes. You can think of it as “bridal sunglasses.”

Birdcage Veil

Also small but slightly longer, the birdcage veil is often chin-length, or covers just a part of the face. It has a certain old-fashioned feel and can look great with short hair or a vintage-inspired dress. It can also suit short dresses very well.

Russian Veil

Russian veils are typically birdcage, but sometimes also bandeau veils. Their key feature is their material, which is usually a type of netting.

What About the Length?

A bride on a boat with her groom and her long veil blowing in the wind.

Veils come in all varieties of lengths, and some of them have specific terms that may leave you slightly puzzled. Some of them speak for themselves, while others need a bit of an explanation.

Fly-Away

This is the shortest type of veil. It’s also known as shoulder-length or blusher-length. Short veils work very well with voluminous up-dos.

Elbow Length

This length of veil falls at or around the waist. It’s a popular choice, but not advised if you have a dress with a detailed back design.

Fingertip Length

This is a versatile choice that’s easy to wear and manage. It perfectly suits a narrow, form-fitting dress, but typically not one that flares at the hips.

Ballet Length

Also known as waltz length, this type of veil falls around the knees. If you’re tall, you might not find it very attractive, but if you’re petite it’s a great option for a long veil without a train.

Floor Length

A floor-length veil is a long veil that just brushes the floor or has a very small train.

Chapel Length

If you want a noticeable train, a chapel-length is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s also a universal choice that works with every type of dress. Even if you’re petite, this type of veil can be very aesthetically pleasing and even visually lengthen your height.

Cathedral Length

Reserved for brides who want to make a grand entrance, cathedral length veils are the longest type available. They start from 144 inches and can last for days. Because of the very long train, however, you have to keep the venue in mind. The last thing you want is your veil getting stuck somewhere on your walk down the aisle.

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