When it comes time to pull your wedding day look together, there are many different pieces to coordinate. From your dress and your shoes to your accessories and your undergarments, every aspect of your ensemble is carefully selected to create your bridal aesthetic. If you’re trying to narrow down your search for wedding hairstyles with a veil,, we’re breaking it all down to help you find the best hair/veil combo for your walk down the aisle. From the history of veils to how to find the right one, here’s everything you need to know about rocking the traditional bridal hair accessory.
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Whether you opt to wear a veil or not, you might not realize how much history is hidden in such a simple accessory. It turns out that a wedding veil is one of the oldest additions to a bridal ensemble, and it holds special meaning for ceremonies of the past.
The veil is “the oldest part of the bridal ensemble,” Wedding Historian Susan Waggoner told Brides.com. The accessory dates back to ancient times when people “wrapped brides from head to toe to represent the delivery of a modest and untouched maiden.”
In addition to the bride being wrapped up like a gift, the cover also helped hide her away from evil spirits who might try to thwart her happiness. In fact, this is how the tradition of bridesmaids became a wedding staple too. The bride’s maids would dress up in white to match the bride and confuse any evil spirits who might want to ruin the special day. Between the bridesmaids and the veil, the bride was pretty well covered on the spirit protection front—literally.
Evil spirits aside, the more practical reason for veils stemmed from the days of arranged marriages. Traditionally, grooms wouldn’t see their brides’ faces until the actual wedding ceremony (and sometimes not even until after consummation). This was a way for the families to ensure that the union happened and to avoid the risk of the bride or groom running away if they didn’t like the look of their future spouse.
The accessory became a fashion staple, however, in 1840. Queen Victoria wore a white dress with a cascading veil in her wedding to Prince Albert, making her the first modern monarch to say “I do” in a veil, thus transforming the accessory into a bridal staple.
While it might just seem like a simple piece of fabric, veils mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people and cultures. For some people, the veil represents purity and modesty, but that’s just the tip of the historical and religious symbolism. In Christian weddings, the veil represents the garment that was removed when Christ died, and, per Catholic tradition, when the veil is removed, it represents that the bride has given herself over to the groom.
In an orthodox Jewish nuptial ceremony, the groom covers the bride’s face with a veil just before the wedding ceremony. Once the formal proceedings are over, he then lifts the veil. This ceremony, called the Bedeken, dates back to, and is representative of, the meeting between Isaac and Rebekah, during which Rebekah concealed her face with a veil.
Many Indian wedding ceremonies also include the use of a wedding veil. While the traditional, red Hindi veil—called a ghoonghat—has become outdated due to its sexist and archaic nature, many Indian brides utilize veils in their nuptial ceremonies. The most popular option is a double dupatta style, which utilizes one heavy, embroidered veil for the shoulder and a second, lighter one that covers the head.
Regardless of religion or origin, many brides simply choose to wear a veil because it feels bridal, and that in and of itself is symbolic.
Nowadays, the wedding veil is mostly used as an accessory that makes a bridal look feel complete for most to-be-weds. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your partner to decide what feels right for your wedding day. What matters is that the choice should feel like a reflection of you, your relationship, and your celebration. Whether that means with or without a veil, you’ll feel the magic on your special day.
While choosing whether or not to wear a veil during your wedding ceremony is a big deal, often the first step in the process is considering your hairstyle or hairdo. How you wear your hair on your wedding day will help determine the type of veil that would work best. Unless you’re using an heirloom veil (in which case you’ll want to ensure that your perfect hairstyle works with the special piece) figure out your wedding hairstyle first before picking out your veil. Here’s what to consider when narrowing down your style choices:
The very first step to choosing the best wedding hairstyle is to consider your theme, venue, formality, and wedding colors. First of all, different events call for different styles. A casual beach wedding might make you lean toward something a little different than if you were having an elegant castle wedding. Additionally, you’ll want a look that not only suits your ambiance but will be able to hold its shape throughout the festivities.
“Anything with an outdoor environment greatly affects how the hair should be styled for longevity,” Senior Stylist at Radio London, Heather King-Labeur, previously told Zola. Check out real wedding photos to see couples’ hairstyles from their actual wedding days. Look for celebrations that have similar venues to yours to get an idea of what hairstyles work with the setting, especially if you’re having an outdoor wedding where heat and humidity are factors.
Next, King-Labeur suggests considering your wedding dress and accessories to ensure that your hairstyle complements your ensemble, not detracts from it. A good rule of thumb: Styles with higher necklines look elegant with updos and chic, shorter styles, whereas strapless and décolleté-showing styles are great for wearing your hair down. Additionally, if your dress/accessories are more elaborate, you might prefer opting for a less ornate ‘do.
Naturally, your hair length will play a factor in the styles you choose, but if you have a vision that doesn’t work with your length, feel free to get creative! Options like weaves, wigs, and extensions can give you longer-looking locks, and some artfully placed pins can make your hair look shorter if you’re after a cropped style.
Finally, you’ll want to consider your hair type to determine the best look that will hold all night long. There are multiple ways to identify your hair, but Kristina Maccaro, a New Jersey-based stylist and owner of Love Lane Salon, previously told Zola that the four most commonly referenced hair types “come from the Andre Walker Hair Typing System.” Type one is straight, type two is wavy, type three is curly, and type four is kinky. Here are a few of our favorite hairstyle ideas for each type of hair:
Type one is straight hair that is anywhere from fine and fragile to coarse and thin. One of the main factors here is that it’s curl resistant (so it doesn’t curl naturally). Half-up half-down with wand curls (use lots of hairspray).
Type two is identified as wavy hair that’s fine and thin to coarse and frizzy. If your hair has a little body to it, it’s probably wavy.
Type four hair is considered kinky and boasts tight coils to Z-angled coils. Some of our favorite bridal styles involve natural hair and tight coils.
Whatever your wedding day vision, chances are that there’s a veil for you. From short and spunky numbers to long, luxurious versions, we’re breaking down the different types of veils for you to consider on your wedding day, plus providing tips for narrowing down your options.
A short and playful veil—usually made of net, lace, or tulle—that typically covers the eyes but skims the nose or lands at the jawline. Length: 4-9 inches Best for: Vintage-themed weddings; lace dresses; bold lips; retro accessories
Blushers are a thin piece of tulle that covers the face and ends at the shoulders. They’re usually paired with another veil and are pulled before the couple’s first kiss. Length: 30 inches Best for: traditional ceremonies or drama-loving brides
Cathedral veils are the longest style available. They’re so long that they touch the floor and extend beyond a wedding gown’s train. Also referred to as a royal veil, cathedral veils are ideal for grand entrances and dramatic exits. Length: 100-120 inches Best for: formal or glamorous settings; ideal for long aisles and/or grand entrances and exits
A single-tier veil is typically made of tulle and rests on the floor a few inches beyond the gown. Length: 90 inches Best for: traditional weddings and pretty much any dress and setting; extremely versatile
Typically, two tier veils boast two layers, each at different lengths, to create a more voluminous look. Length: 30-72 inches Best for: sophisticated dresses; anyone looking to add volume to a sleek hairstyle or dress
The dupatta is a long, heavily detailed veil covering the head and shoulders, and it is traditionally worn by Indian women for Indian or Hindu weddings. Length: 80-100 inches Best with: traditional Indian and Hindu wedding attire, including saris and lehengas
A veil that drapes over the shoulders to the length of the elbows. Length: 25-32 inches Best for: ball gowns and minimalistic gowns; anyone who wants to frame your face or opt for a simpler veil look.
A mid-length veil that reaches to your fingertips. Length: 38-40 inches Best for: semi-formal weddings; anyone who wants lots of movement in their veil.
The flyaway veil just brushes the shoulders and is made of multiple layers of stiff tulle that creates a voluminous, “flyaway” look. Length: 18 inches Best for: informal or less traditional ceremonies; anyone who wants a playful addition to their look; great for those wearing shorter gowns or looks with back details.
A historical 1920s style veil that creates a wrapped cap-like appearance around the head before falling around the shoulders. Length: 25-60 inches Best for: romantic or bohemian weddings; lace gowns; detailed gowns; Art Deco-themed events.
A single-tier veil with detailed lace trimming that starts a few inches behind the hairline and lays flat on the head. Length: 30-90 inches Best for: regal and romantic weddings; with chignon buns or with the bride’s hair worn down.
A piece of gathered netting is pinned to a comb to create a bubble that’s typically worn off-center. Length: 9-12 inches Best for: unconventional, informal, and modern weddings; pairing with a minimal gown to add some drama.
A veil with two to four layers or tiers. Length: 30-72 inches Best for: lavish and glamorous wedding ceremonies; paired with a minimalist gown.
Also known as a ballet veil, the waltz veil falls between your fingertips and ankles, usually along the mid-calf. Length: 60 inches Best for: ethereal wedding day looks
Once you’ve selected your dress and a hairstyle idea or two, the next step is to select your veil. Pay attention to the details on your gown/outfit, consider your venue and the statement you want to make, and picture yourself walking down the aisle. Even if you don’t think you want to wear a veil, it’s a good idea to try a few on just to get an idea of how they look and to perhaps inspire you with some exciting veil alternatives.
While some brides can’t imagine their wedding ensemble without a veil, others aren’t fans of the look. If you don’t want to wear a veil, there are plenty of other options to consider to dress up your ceremony style.
From jeweled options to braided pieces that look like your own hair, headbands are a chic and unique way to elevate your wedding day hairstyle sans veil. If there’s a headband that you love, you can even add it in addition to a veil if you want the best of both worlds.
If you want to feel like a queen on your special day, nothing creates the look quite like a crown or tiara. Whether you’re after something subtly sparkling or something elaborate and ornate, there are plenty of options in a variety of colors and metals to choose from. A few options we really love are crystal/rock crowns for modern weddings, and flower or greenery crowns for boho or outdoor celebrations.
Why not opt for a more natural look for your wedding, especially if you’re utilizing a lot of floral elements in your celebration? You can easily tuck flowers behind your ear, into your hairstyle, or on your wedding updo to create an earthy, romantic feel.
Whether you’re rocking an updo, a braid, half-up half-down, or just your natural style, a fun clip can really elevate your look. Select something sparkling, on-trend, unique, or nature-inspired to create a cohesive wedding day look.
As trends evolve and shift, there are always new headpiece options coming out to change up your bridal look. Not only can you select a dramatic headpiece instead of a veil, but you could also switch out your veil for something sparkling and dramatic to create a different reception look. If you decide on a wow-worthy statement headpiece, it’s best to select more subtle accessories to go with it, so your look isn’t too overembellished.
One of the biggest downsides of veils is that they often come with a heavy price tag. While some brides feel comfortable shelling out some serious cash for the accessories, for others, it doesn’t fit in the budget. Luckily, with a comb, a needle and thread, and some tulle, you can DIY a veil that not only fits you perfectly, but could end up being a memorable heirloom that you’ll pass down for years to come.
Who says you need to wear a veil on your wedding day? There’s no rule that says the only way you can look like a bride is by wearing tulle on your head. If you don’t want to include a veil in your wedding day look and you’re not a fan of the alternatives, don’t feel obligated to include an accessory. The point of the day is to look and feel like yourself, and if that means walking down the aisle without a veil or headpiece, then do it!
That being said, before you forego the idea of a veil or hairpiece in general, experts agree that it’s a good idea to at least try a few on. There aren’t too many times in life where you get the chance to dress up—and even fewer when the day is fully about you and your partner.
While you can wear a veil anytime you want, your wedding day is one of the only days that it’s actually expected. You might not get another chance, so before eschewing the idea, at least put a few on to see how you feel. If they’re still not for you, then you’ll be able to confidently walk down the aisle sans veil, knowing that you made the perfect choice for you.
As with every aspect of wedding planning, the whole purpose of the day is to celebrate the love that you and your partner have for each other. For some people, that means an elaborate updo and a veil, whereas, for others, it means heading down the aisle accessory-free with their hair down. There’s no right or wrong way to dress for your wedding, but whatever you decide, Zola has plenty of options for you to consider.
Whether you envision a vintage-looking birdcage veil atop a pinup bun, or a long, cathedral veil paired with your hair lightly curled, there’s something for everyone (and every budget) in Zola’s wedding shop. Ultimately, when it comes down to choosing your wedding hairstyle with a veil, all that matters is that you feel beautiful. Don’t be so focused on looking “bridal” that you forget to look like yourself, because, we promise, your partner will be blown away by your beauty, veil or no veil.