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What's Up Weddings

How to Pick the Perfect Veil

Oct 18, 2012 05:24PM ● By Anonymous

 But how do you choose?

Before you even begin shopping for a veil, there are a couple of things to consider: the formality, intricacy, and length of your dress, and the overall tone of your wedding. Once you have those ideas in mind, it's time to explore the wide realm of veils.

The Basics of Length

Veils come in a number of different lengths, and selecting the right length for you plays a significant role in portraying the formality of your event and complementing your shape. The rule of thumb is that the longer the veil, the more formal the affair.

The shortest veils go by a number of different names—Russian, fishnet, Madonna, and most popularly, birdcage. This type of veil is typically a single layer attached to a headpiece and falls asymmetrically just below your nose. (Tip: not to your chin.) Birdcage veils offer a vintage look that complements a vintage dress of any length, but can also spice up a long, simple dress, or add adorable spunk to a knee or tea-length dress.

Falling below a birdcage veil is the bouffant, or flyaway. The two names are often used interchangeably, though technically, there are subtle differences. Bouffant and flyaway veils are slightly different from traditional veils in that they are made up of several layers rather than the standard one or two. They generally come just short of the shoulder, and are made with stiffer tulle that gives a more voluptuous look, rather than falling straight down to framing the face (hence, "flyaway.") When distinguished from flyaways, bouffant veils—popular in the 60s—incorporate even shorter layers that add height, especially when paired with its namesake "bouffant" updo. Bouffants and flyaways are perfect for a simple dress with a short haircut or tall updo, and are considered somewhat informal.

Shoulder veils are slightly longer than bouffant veils, meeting the bride's side at her underarms, and they are typically made of only one or two tiers. Shoulder veils look great with strapless dresses, meeting the bodice to provide a seamless coverage.

Melissa Manzione photo 

Elbow, waist and fingertip veils are even more self-explanatory, length-wise. They portray increasingly formal looks with their length, are also made of one or two tiers, and can complement any neckline. The elbow pairs well with a ball gown; a single-layer waist veil can add drama for a petite bride without swallowing or overwhelming her like a longer, multi-tiered veil might; and the fingertip is one of the most popular choices. These lengths can add drama and formality to a sleek, simple gown, but could be also be used to complement a traditional dress.

There is a great deal of discrepancy between the knee, floor, ballet, and waltz veils, as the terms are often used interchangeably and refer to veils that fall somewhere between just below the knee to just short of the floor. Some designers and boutiques differentiate the knee veils from the floor/ballet/waltz veils, deeming knee veils to or just below the knee, and the others, ankle length. Regardless of what you call it, but depending upon the specific length, these veils look great with a more informal knee- or tea-length dress. (Note: the veil should fall at or just below the dress.) Traditionally, these are not appropriate for floor-length dresses with trains, as a long veil should run the same length or longer than your train.

Chapel veils are among the most popular for formal settings, ranging from floor-length to a train of 108 inches. Another, even more formal option is the cathedral veil, which can fall with a train up to 144 inches. The cathedral veil is named so because it typically finds its setting in formal cathedral weddings on brides wearing formal gowns with long trains. Regal veils feature trains longer than 144 inches. Per general veil rule of thumb, these veils should all extend beyond the length of a brides' dress train.

As the definition of veil types can vary from store to store, it's important to try your veil on, or at least inquire about specific length when ordering.

More to Perfect Pairing

Aside from traditional formality, there are other factors to consider when choosing the best veil length for your dress.

First of all, steer clear of unflattering breaks. You want to be sure that your veil won't create a visual horizontal line across the back of your dress, which is what guests will see during the ceremony. For example, wearing a shoulder veil with a dress that has a sash will cause on-looking eyes to pause at the end of the veil, and again at the point of the sash, creating two visual breaks or horizontal "lines" so to speak, which could detract from an hour glass-shape look created by the sash. Likewise, veils that hit in the middle of a back of embellishments will distract the eye from detailed patterns. Two-tier veils might hide detailing or a dramatic V-shaped back. So in both cases, brides should look for a veil that either totally exposes the back, or fully yet transparently covers it as to not interrupt the eye, such as either short bouffant or birdcage veils, or long fingertip, chapel, or cathedral veils—whichever is more complementary to the rest of the dress and the event.

You should also compare the detailing of your dress to the detailing on your veil. If you have lace on your dress, avoid lace on your veil unless the two match perfectly. Other details, like beading, offer more matching wiggle room. You can match the beads themselves, or look for coordinating patterns. When working with other types of fabrics, such as satin or taffeta, you can carry it through veil's trim. Just make sure that the color is the same from dress to veil.

It's also a good idea to consider the amount of embellishment on a dress before selecting a veil. If your gown is simple, take the opportunity to add interest with an ornate veil. If your dress is full of intricate detail, choose a simple veil that allows the dress to shine. Whether its color, fabric, or embellishment, you don't want the veil and the dress to compete.

In general, brides should also opt for a veil that complements the shape of their face. For example, brides with round faces may look best in long, single-tier veils, while brides with long faces are flattered by shorter veils.

Dunks Photo

Stick to What You Like

There are countless rules outlining how to pick the perfect veil, but when it comes down to it, it's most important to stay true to yourself and your taste. The rules can always be bent—so stick to what you feel best in, not what tradition tells you to wear. After all, it's your day.

Specialty Veils

Mantilla veils can come in a variety of lengths, but are identified by their lace trim along a single layer, with a shape that frames the face and falls around the shoulders. Mantillas add tradition and elegance to a simple dress, and are typically worn higher on the head, rather than back on the crown.

To have, or not to have, a blusher is yet another consideration of veil selection. A blusher is the part of the veil that covers a bride's face before she's given away, or announced as a Mrs. In many cases, veils with multiple layers are designed for one of the layers to work as a blusher, though blushers can also be bought separately, or otherwise added to a blusher-less piece.