The journey to find the perfect wedding dress can be both exciting and overwhelming. However, creating your bridal look does not stop when you find the perfect gown; you also have to select a veil! There are tons of wedding veil lengths and styles. The main question you should ask yourself is: “What length of veil should I wear?” If you have no clue where to start, or are wondering what is the difference between a chapel length vs cathedral length veil, look no further! Our guide to wedding veil lengths will help you make a confident decision.
The wedding veil is the most timeless wedding accessory of them all. But how do you answer this question “what length veil should I wear?” A good place to start your search is to become familiar with the different styles and wedding veil lengths that are available. And we are here to break them all down for you!
Just as there are many different fabrics, details and silhouettes in wedding dress designs, there are also many different details to choose from in your wedding veil. There are lace-trimmed veils (both long and short), dramatic veils such as birdcage or Juliet caps, cathedral veils, and more. That’s a lot to process! Get to know the difference between them below, as well as which will be the right one for your wedding dress.
One of the shortest wedding veils, a birdcage veil typically covers just the eyes or as far as the jawline. It is usually made with lace or a netting. Indeed, the style originated in the ‘40s, during a fabric shortage. This makes it a great option for a blustery or warm weather outdoor wedding. It is a vintage, flirty wedding veil that can be long enough to go down to your chin. It pairs beautifully with tea length dresses, but also works with a full length gown. Birdcage veils are often adorned with flowers, feathers and other embellishments. As far as fabric, a birdcage veil is typically made out of a coarse netting, but can also be a sheer tulle.
A shoulder length veil hits just at the shoulder and is a popular choice; this wedding veil is pretty easy to understand based on its name. A more traditional style, it is less likely to compete with your dress. Less dramatic than a birdcage veil, it is slightly more modern and chic. However, it would still look great with either a tea or full length gowns. It is simple in design, and great for a bride that doesn’t want to skip the “veil tradition” but doesn’t want anything over-the-top. Tori Spelling wore a gorgeous shoulder length veil for her wedding to Charlie Shanian in 2004.
An elbow length veil in another great choice for brides wanting a short, simple veil. They are 32” in length and can be one or two layers; they can be plain tulle, or have details such as ribbon, lace or beaded trim (more on that in an upcoming post on veil details). Still traditional but leaning a bit more conservative, elbow length veils allow for more coverage without being bulky. Indeed, an elbow length veil can be a great option for covering your shoulders when a church requires it.This style offers a little more movement to the bride’s look and is especially beautiful with a headpiece. There are several wedding dress styles that look great with an elbow length veil. Keep reading for more wedding veil lengths below!
Quite possibly one of the most popular wedding veils, the fingertip length veil is exactly what the name suggests. It falls right below the bride’s hip, down to the tip of her fingers. A fingertip veil can have many different trim details. Depending on whether you want some sparkle, a simple raw edge or some lace, there is a fingertip veil for you (or we can design one!)
If you want a veil with a little drama without being too heavy, you may prefer a knee length veil. Falling at the knee, this veil is dramatic and elegant, but not over the top. Knee length veils are typically 48” in length. Your local seamstress can alter your store-bought veil to fall at the right length to be at “your” knee, based on your height. (In the case of JoSaBi, your veil is 100% custom, and can be made at any length you require.) This type of veil offers a romantic and elegant look without a lot of fuss. It also complements gowns that have a detailed bust or waist area. A knee length veil is a great choice for brides who want length, yet want to wear their veil from the ceremony to the reception. It indeed won’t be as much of a handful as floor length or longer veils.
For those brides wanting a dreamy veil that you can keep on during the reception, a ballet length veil is the perfect choice. The ballet veil (or waltz veil as it is sometimes called) is designed to fall mid-calf (60”). Between knee and floor length, this style is as long as a veil can get without actually touching the floor. As a result, it won’t get in the way of your dancing. It creates the most romantic and graceful look for your ceremony and reception. It looks stunning with a dress that features a small train, or with a tea length dress where it falls exactly at the length of the hem.
As the name indicates, a floor length veil is exactly that: a lovely piece of tulle that is shaped and designed to gracefully touch the floor. When purchased, it will be between 72” and 78”. This style is not ideal for a gown with a train. That said, it does go especially well with more slimming styles, like a sheath or a fitted column.
Another popular style, the chapel length veil is longer than your typical. It is 90” long and is designed to sweep across the floor, extending slightly beyond the train of your wedding gown. Brides can use this veil length to create the illusion of a train. Conversely, they can also pair it with a dress with an actual train (consider pairing it with an elegant body hugging column dress). Aside from being beautiful, a chapel length veil also makes for a gorgeous photography prop. It is a very classic style, right between sweet and dramatic.
We know that understanding the difference between a chapel length versus cathedral length veil can be mind boggling. For many brides, these two veils can appear to be the same. And while they do have some similarities, there is one major difference.
If you want an ultra-regal, traditional and dramatic look when you walk down the aisle, a cathedral length veil is your best bet to make a grand entrance! These glamorous veils are 108” – 120” long and are intended to extend beyond the length of your train. Most will say that the cathedral veil should not just match the length of your train but extend at least an additional 5”at least. We suggest wearing it with (at the very minimum) a gown that meets the floor for an extra dramatic affect.
Less specific in length, a blusher is a single see-through piece of fabric used to cover the bride’s face. The groom usually lifts it prior to the first kiss. It can be paired with any gown, although it does tend to lend a romantic look.
A style you may have seen but never heard of, the drop veil was made popular by the likes of Grace Kelly and Kate Middleton. This veil is a great addition to more luxe or elegant styles, despite being rather simple. It is indeed a layer of very high quality tulle that has been cut into a circular shape and ‘dropped’ on the bride. This particular style is hence not affixed onto the bride’s head, and can therefore be easily adjusted or moved. It works very well with a hairpiece or hair accessories.
A mantilla is a traditional Spanish veil or shawl worn over the head and made of silk or lace. It is made with a comb so that it can be placed in the bride’s hair, and will lay smoothly over the head. While it is usually worn less as an accessory and more for tradition, it does frame the face and shoulders beautifully.
Similar to a fascinator, a visor veil sometimes falls to the chin, but generally only covers the eyes, and comes down to around the nose. Although less popular nowadays, this style is very sophisticated. Not to be confused with a birdcage veil, a visor is a more horizontal style, pinned behind each one of the ears. It is typically made with a netting or lace, and may feature an intricate design or embellishment on one (or both) sides. It would look beautiful with a vintage gown or a plain column shaped dress.
This is quite possibly one of our favorite wedding veils. The angel wing veil is one of the most magical veils of all. It can be purchased in a variety of lengths (elbow length, fingertip, ballerina length or cathedral).
What makes the angel wing or waterfall veil so dreamy? It is the way that the tulle is cut to create the veil. Typically, when tulle is cut for a veil it is done so without much shape – the sides of the tulle fall from the comb straight down without much rhythm or flow.
The sides of an angel wing veil are shaped in a way that allows the tulle to cascade down from the comb in a beautiful back-and-forth design, almost like a wave. What makes the waterfall veil so dreamy is that it frames the face of the bride with the gentle wavy design. A top pick of most bridal stylists for sure!
As with all the veils on our list, the details (lace, ribbon or beaded edge) are up to you.
Another important factor to consider when selecting or designing your wedding veil is the width. It will affect the overall appearance of the veil, from providing coverage to fullness. While the width can be customized to your preference, veils typically come in three standard widths.
This width is just wide enough to fall behind your shoulders and not obscure your dress. It is ideal for a bride who wants a veil but may have decorative sleeves or a neckline that she does not want to distract from.
This width creates a more flowy appearance, perfect for a look that is romantic. It is a good option for a bride who wants enough material to provide a little coverage, but not so much that it is voluminous.
The widest option, 108 inches adds fullness to the veil, both at the head and back. It will provide ample coverage, and is a popular choice for strapless gowns or those that have little to no embellishments on the upper bodice.
There are clearly many different veil lengths, widths, styles and embellishments to choose from. While the width and length of your wedding veil is ultimately your decision, you can use the following references to get an idea of which wedding veil lengths are frequently paired with popular wedding dress styles. These are general rules that are based on the experience of bridal stylists and industry experts, but you are of course welcome to break them; it is your wedding!
The sky is the limit when you fall in love with a minimalistic wedding dress (one without embellishments). The simplistic design of your gowns means that you can really wear any length veil you want.
The key to selecting the right veil for your dress is to consider the silhouette. If you love a vintage look, a birdcage veil will look amazing with your simple gown especially if it is a slender silhouette. Otherwise, amp up the elegance with an elbow or fingertip length. For added sophistication, select a style that has a trim, such as satin or delicate lace. If you want some drama and a touch of glam, consider a cathedral veil.
Wearing a fairytale ballgown down the aisle deserves an equally magical veil. The best veil for a ballgown is the traditional cathedral veil. It creates an ethereal look, like you are floating down the aisle, and yields an absolutely beautiful and royal wedding day look.
If you happen to be more minimal, a knee length wedding veil will keep you freer to move, while still offering some drama.
We love a wedding dress with a dramatic statement back! wedding gowns with Interesting beadwork patterns, sheer illusion tulle or delicate lace appliques on the back deserve a gorgeous, yet subtle veil.
Opt for a sheer veil, with only one layer, and without any added accents such as scattered crystals or rhinestones. Doing this allows your guests to see “through” your veil to view all those pretty back details that you fell in love with. The best length veil for a statement back wedding dress should be based on the silhouette of the gown and length of train.
Ballgown with pretty back and a short train? Choose a chapel length veil versus a cathedral veil. If the dress has a longer train, then cathedral veil all the way! Sheath, mermaid or trumpet wedding gown? Knee or fingertip length will be perfect to show off that back.
Pro Tip – The number one rule of thumb when it comes to a dramatic back: do not buy a veil that is so short it cuts off right across the prettiest part of the back detail!
Whether you’re wearing a cocktail wedding dress or a modern tea length gown, a short veil is the way to go. Consider a retro birdcage or visor veil, or a simple but flirty shoulder-length veil.
Often, boho brides do not want the fluff of a veil. But, if you want to incorporate a wedding veil into your boho bride look, opt for a slightly whimsical and romantic chapel length veil. We recommend wearing it behind the head instead of on top, or wearing it as a drop veil. Both options will provide a beautiful bridal look with the veil gently blowing in the wind. They can also be paired with your favorite floral hair accessories or a flower crown.
Who doesn’t love a heavily beaded wedding dress? If you are a true princess bride that wants to sparkle from the crown in your hair to every inch of your dress, you need an equally impressive veil to match. A beaded veil is therefore right up your alley.
A great option is a medium to long raw edge veil with scattered crystals throughout the veil. The raw edge will seem to disappear, and there will be no structured edge to take away from the beadwork. You will be glistening all the way down the aisle!
Ah! Yes, we love this new trend of having a detachable train or overlay. What could be better than having two bridal looks in one dress? But how do you choose the right wedding veil length for two different style gowns?
Easy! Wear whatever you want. This fashion-forward bridal style looks great with many veil styles, from a birdcage length to a romantic and dreamy fingertip, angel wing, cathedral or chapel length as well. As with most of the other silhouettes, consider the length of the detachable train when choosing your veil.
A modern bridal look can be paired with a variety of shorter and longer length veils. Fan favorites include a layered shoulder or elbow length veil, or chapel veils. For a fun touch, consider dotting your veil with pearls or 3D floral appliques.
Many wedding veil lengths work with an a-line gown. Cater your veil choice to the details of your dress instead. For example, if the back is detailed go with a shoulder or elbow length veil. If it is plain and you want a bold addition, consider chapel or cathedral.
The material that you choose to use for your veil will have as much of an impact as the length and width. While some styles limit your options, like a birdcage or visor, others can be modified to suit your personal taste.
Tulle is by far the most common material for wedding veils, as it is light, holds shape well and lends volume.
Organza is a close second, which offers more body but is less sheer. It is a good choice for brides whose look is more modern.
Less common (but equally beautiful), is the full lace veil. This material offers more coverage and best suits a plain gown, as it can be quite distracting. To help you understand the difference between these materials and how they can affect your wedding day look, learn the difference between three of the the most popular wedding veil fabrics.
Still unsure which wedding veil length fits your personality and will complement the style of your wedding gown? We are here to help! Our team can help you create any veil, whether it is one of the aforementioned lengths or whether you have a specific idea in mind. When you choose JoSaBi Mariées for your wedding gown and accessories, you have full control over the outcome- and that includes the look and length of your veil. Our JoSaBi process indeed offers every bride full creative freedom from start to finish, with the help of dedicated and knowledgeable consultants.
That’s it for today! Thanks for stopping by; we hope this article was useful to you. As usual, email us, leave a comment or send us a message through our contact form. Looking forward to hearing from you, and have a stellar day!