Records show that brides wore a floor-length yellow veil in ancient Greece and a similar red veil was worn by brides in ancient Rome. These were often decorated with threads of gold or silver. Nowadays, the Western veil1
is almost always sheer white and most have little or no embroidery or other embellishments. A few have piping at the edge but most are simply cut straight with no hem; plain so as not distract attention away from the main attire - the dress.
Another reason for having a simple veil is because it is used for only a very short time. The veil is lowered just before the doors open for her grand entrance into the chapel and raised before the end of the ceremony. Why spend a huge amount of money on something used for such a short time when a simple, common sense, plain veil with no frills serves equally well? Of course, 'common sense' is often ignored when it comes to wedding ceremonies. There are no rules. Your veil should be whatever you want it to be: simple or elaborate, thick or thin, long or short, embellished with jewels or plain.
Veils recommended by dress shops are sheer, almost transparent, and obscure the face of the bride rather than conceal it.
The length should be just above or below any focal point of the dress. Today, a very short veil (anywhere between just covering the forehead and shoulder-length) looks cute but not as popular as it was in your mother's generation. However, a short veil may be appropriate if a longer veil would cover lavish details on the dress. Similarly, very long, floor length 'Cathedral' veils do not look so elegant when lifted by the groom.
The three most common lengths are:
- Short: Half-way twixt the shoulders and waist. This style is popular where there is a lot detail at the waist of the dress or if the bride wants to show off the bouquet.
- Medium: The elbow length veil is the most popular
- Long: Hip length suits dresses with a long train. The veil reaches the bride's fingertips when her arms are straight down by her side. This style sometimes causes problems when linking arms with her father or the groom. If you chose this style, allow plenty of time for the groom to practise lifting the veil, otherwise his fumbling during the ceremony will be rather embarrassing. Also, either take sufficient time to practise picking up the ring through a long veil, or better, arrange with the wedding pastor to do the ring exchange after the veil has been lifted. (See Order Of Service.) The long veil suits taller brides. If you want to use this veil but anxious about your height, consider platform heels. If you will be wearing the dress outside (in a garden chapel or for photographs) a long veil can keep bridesmaids busy on a windy day.
If you are not sure, a Medium length suits most dresses. It goes without saying that the veil length and general style should be proportional to the dress. It should complement and enhance the dress and hairstyle, but of course you might have your own ideas. Be sure to talk through your ideas with the costumiers.
As we mention on the Planning Your Wedding page, don't plan more discomfort than necessary.