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The Ultimate Guide To Veils

I personally didn't wear a veil on my wedding day - I thought it was a little old fashioned for my tastes - but WOW they can look so gorgeous on brides. It's a good idea to consult with a boutique, designer, or hair stylist about what type of veil will look best for your face shape or hair style.

If you were wondering about veils, well here it is - The Ultimate Guide.


An occasion on which a Western woman is likely to wear a veil is on her white wedding day. Brides once used to wear their hair flowing down their back at their wedding to symbolize their virginity. Veils covering the hair and face became a symbolic reference to the virginity of the bride thereafter. Often in modern weddings, the ceremony of removing a face veil after the wedding to present the groom with a virgin bride is skipped, since many couples have already entered into conjugal relations prior to their wedding day – the bride either wears no face veil, or it is lifted before the ceremony begins, but this is not always the case. Further, if a bride is a virgin, she often wears the face veil through the ceremony, and then either her father lifts the veil, presenting the bride to her groom, or the groom lifts the veil to symbolically consummate the marriage, which will later become literal. Brides who are virgins may make use of the veil to symbolize and emphasize their status of purity during their wedding however, and if they do, the lifting of the veil may be ceremonially recognized as the crowning event of the wedding, when the beauty of the bride is finally revealed to the groom and the guests. It is not altogether clear that the wedding veil is a non-religious use of this item, since weddings have almost always had religious underpinnings, especially in the West. Veils, however, had been used in the West for weddings long before this. Roman brides, for instance, wore an intensely flame-colored and fulsome veil, called the flammeum, apparently intended to protect the bride from evil spirits on her wedding day. Later, the so-called velatio virginum became part of the rite of the consecration of virgins, the liturgical rite in which the church sets aside the virgin as a sacred person who belongs only to Christ.

In the 19th century, wedding veils came to symbolise the woman's virginity and modesty.

The tradition of a veiled bride's face continues even today wherein, a virgin bride, especially in Christian or Jewish culture, enters the marriage ritual with a veiled face and head, and remains fully veiled, both head and face, until the ceremony concludes. After the full conclusion of the wedding ceremony, either the bride's father lifts the veil giving the bride to the groom who then kisses her, or the new groom lifts her face veil in order to kiss her, which symbolizes the groom's right to enter into conjugal relations with his bride.[12]

The lifting of the veil was often a part of ancient wedding ritual, symbolising the groom taking possession of the wife, either as lover or as property, or the revelation of the bride by her parents to the groom for his approval.

In Judaism, the tradition of wearing a veil dates back to biblical times. According to the Torah in Genesis 24:65, Isaac is brought Rebekah to marry by his father Abraham's servant. It is important to note that Rebekah veiled herself when Isaac was approaching. Just before the wedding ceremony the badeken or bedeken is held. The groom places the veil over the bride's face, and either he or the officiating Rabbi gives her a blessing. The veil stays on her face until just before the end of the wedding ceremony – when they are legally married according to Jewish law – then the groom helps lift the veil from off her face.

The most often cited interpretation for the badeken is that, according to Genesis 29, when Jacob went to marry Rachel, his father in law Laban tricked him into marrying Leah, Rachel's older and homlier sister. Many say that the veiling ceremony takes place to make sure that the groom is marrying the right bride! Some say that as the groom places the veil over his bride, he makes an implicit promise to clothe and protect her. Finally, by covering her face, the groom recognizes that he his marrying the bride for her inner beauty; while looks will fade with time, his love will be everlasting. In some ultra-orthodox traditions the bride wears an opaque veil as she is escorted down the aisle to meet her groom. This shows her complete willingness to enter into the marriage and her absolute trust that she is marrying the right man. In Judaism, a wedding is not considered valid unless the bride willingly consents to it.

In ancient Judaism the lifting of the veil took place just prior to the consummation of the marriage in sexual union. The uncovering or unveiling that takes place in the wedding ceremony is a symbol of what will take place in the marriage bed. Just as the two become one through their words spoken in wedding vows, so these words are a sign of the physical oneness that they will consummate later on. The lifting of the veil is a symbol and an anticipation of this.



Blusher - This style falls loosely over the bride’s face, extending below her chin but no further than her waist. After the ceremony, the veil can be flipped back over the headpiece or detached altogether. The Blusher is often attached to a longer veil that trails down the back of the bride’s head and gown.

Flyaway/Shoulder - Grazing the shoulders, this veil is the perfect accompaniment for a dress with a detailed back that you don’t want to cover up. It’s multiple layers can be attached to a headpiece or held in place with combs.

Elbow - Multiple layers of fabric are usually used to fashion this type of veil, which extends to the bride’s elbows. The length makes the veil quite versatile — suitable for formal or less formal gown.

Fingertip - Typically made from a few layers of fabric, this style extends to the bride’s fingertips when her arms are resting at her sides.

Ballet-Length/Ballerina - This style varies in extent, falling anywhere between the bride’s knees and he ankles. It can be paired with a formal or less formal gown.

Chapel - Like the chapel train, this wispy veil grazes the floor, extending a bit more than two yards from the headpiece. It’s length makes it one of the more formal styles.

Cathedral - The most dramatic and formal style, this veil, which flows three and a half yards or more from a headpiece or crown, is often paired with an equally powerful cathedral train. Because of the vast amount of fabric, the bride who wears this type of veil will require assistance from her attendants.

Three-Piece- One of the more formal veils, this tiered design combines three styles: blusher, fingertip, and chapel.

Bouffant - This raised, pouffed style was the height of fashion in the 1950′s. Today’s versions tend to be more streamlined and subdued than those of yesteryear and are no longer worn with a headpiece.

Mantilla - Loose in structure and draped over the bride’s head and shoulders like a scarf, this veil is worn without a headpiece and is typically edged in lace.


Birdcage veils come in three main sizes. Nine inch veils will cover your hair but not much of your face – they look super sweet placed at a bit of an angle and operate a bit like a fascinator. The middle size (12 inches) is usually placed round about where you might place an alice band, and will reach down to the tip of your nose. Longer veils (usually around 18 inches) can cover your whole face. The veils can be worn in a variety of positions, but look best either to one side with the veil angled over your eye, or straight back. However, as you’ll see from the pics here, there are SO many variations – you could wear the lace as a bandeau, or attached to a hat or alice band, or placed much further over to the side.

You can also choose to accessorise your veil however you’d like. Fascinators and flowers are popular choices, as are pretty vintage brooches or hairclips. You can also get birdcage veils that have been blinged up with swarovski crystals or similar. Of course, it depends on the style of your dress and your wedding, but the flexibility of the birdcage look is one reason why they have become so popular. Play around until you find something you like!

You can wear birdcages with just about any hairstyle, although they are usually best suited to updos. Most veils only need securing from their main clip, but you can use hair pins if your hair is short or very fine, if you’re wearing it down, or if you want a particular shape. Bear in mind that while very close fitted veils are what you’ll mostly see in magazines, they can make it difficult to blink (especially with false lashes!).

French netting comes in a limited set of colours, so you’ll probably be going for white or (if your dress is anything other than true white) ivory. Recently I’ve been seeing a few black veils, and I have to say, I am loving them! They add that extra little bit of schnazz to an already sophisticated look.


Dupatta/Ghoonghat - Traditionally, in some parts of India, women are supposed to wear a ghunghat in front of family elders and men guests, father-in-law, elder brothers of her husband, except when only in front of other women, husband and younger male family members. The ghunghat is used to show respect to elder males of the extended family. In desert areas of Indian and Pakistan, the ghungat is used to keep sand from blowing onto the face.

Hijab - The hijab should cover the hair, neck and breasts - but in many countries it can be much looser than that. Women who wear the hijab often choose beautiful colors and fabrics and pair it with surprisingly modern outfits. Even in the most liberal Muslim countries, the hijab may be required in certain situations (such as entering a mosque).

Niqab - The niqab covers everything the hijab covers as well as the entire face, excluding the eyes. You'd be surprised how many educated, relatively independent women choose to wear the niqab. In many Muslim countries, it's a goal many women aspire to. In others, it's forced. Either way, it is far less common the hijab. It is common in some very wealthy countries so the women you see wearing it often wear the most expensive, fashionable European clothes underneath.

Burqha - is the most famous and most concealing of the veils Muslim women wear. It is enforced in only a couple of countries and rare everywhere else. It covers everything the niqab does but also covers the eyes with a screen. The burqha, although it screens the eyes, offers a larger field of view to the wearer.

If you plan on wearing a veil - hopefully you will find this helpful in choosing the right one, or at least know what to ask for when you go shopping. It is also a good opportunity to ask family members if they have a family veil that you can wear.

But don't feel like you have to go that route at all - a beautiful fascinator, jeweled hair-clip, or flower can be the perfect accent to your dress.


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