The Bride's Complete Guide to the Most Popular Wedding Veils

Don't know the difference between a mantilla and a cathedral? Find out with our how-to guide!

The Bride's Complete Guide to the Most Popular Wedding Veils

Photo: Images By Berit, Inc.

If the tearful shoppers on Say Yes to the Dress are any indication, a bride doesn't truly feel like a bride until she puts on her wedding veil. Understandably so – after all, it is the one accessory that you'll wear only on your wedding day!

Once you begin shopping for your veil, you'll realize that there are almost as many styles, shapes, and lengths to choose from as there are gowns! Before you attempt to select a veil for your big day, make sure you are familiar with your options. Though many veil styles can match any silhouette, each type looks most stunning when paired with the proper gown and hairstyle. We've outlined the five most popular veil types and how to wear them. Read on to discover which suits your personal style!

The most important tip to remember: Choose whichever veil makes you feel beautiful... and do a trial run with your hairstylist before the wedding to ensure that your veil and hairstyle are working in harmony! Want more inspiration? See real brides' veils in our photo gallery!


Photo by Embrace Life Photography

Length: Chin, jawline, or just below the neck

Style: Vintage; modern

How to Wear: The chic, face-framing birdcage veil is ideal for brides who love the custom of wearing a veil, but don't like traditional long styles. It's also perfect for brides who view their veil as a fashion accessory, rather than an integral part of a traditional ceremony. The veil is secured into place with a hair comb or headband, which can feature any number of embellishments including flowers, pearls, and feathers. Though classic birdcage veils feature a signature netted fabric, the style can also be found in tulle. The veil pairs beautifully with vintage and short gowns. Sweep your hair into an updo and choose your jewelry carefully, so as not to overwhelm your face! 


Photo by D. Park Photography

Length: Fingertips

Style: Any

How to Wear: The delicate fingertip veil is truly the MVP of wedding veils. It's ideal for brides who want the experience of wearing a classic veil, without the drama of a chapel or cathedral length. Thanks to its medium length, a fingertip veil complements any style of gown, from a lacy bohemian A-line to a satin fit-and-flare. Brides can also get creative with their hairstyle: the veil can be affixed to a half-updo, above a chignon or bun, or even just below a higher bun.

A slightly longer style, called a ballet or waltz veil, falls at approximately calf length and can be styled similarly to a fingertip veil. 


Photo by Kevin Weinstein Photography

Length: Past the fingertips

Style: Traditional

How to Wear: The lace-edged mantilla veil has its roots in Spanish church culture; however, anyone can wear this beautiful, face-framing style. The veil covers the top of the head, so hairstyles that allow the veil to lie flat, such as a low updo or loose waves, work best. A mermaid, fit-and-flare, or ball gown complements the mantilla's formal style.


Photo by Fred Marcus Studio 

Length: Just past the hem of the gown

Style: Classic

How To Wear: With a similar style as cathedral veils, without the weight and bulk, chapel veils provide a happy medium for modern brides who enjoy a bit of drama. The floor-skimming veil beautifully accompanies fitted gowns, such as mermaid and fit-and-flare styles. It's also perfect for outdoor venues where a cathedral veil could be problematic on rough terrain.


Photo by KingenSmith

Length: One or more yards past the hem of the gown

Style: Traditional; formal

How to Wear: Cathedral veils are the most traditional and dramatic of all veil styles. Although they shouldn't be worn with knee- or tea-length gowns, cathedral veils complement a variety of silhouettes; however, they look best with gowns that have trains. Naturally, an indoor venue is ideal, to prevent snagging or tearing. Since a cathedral veil can be affixed to virtually any hairstyle (a half-updo is especially pretty), it's imporant to experiment to determine which look best complements you and your gown.