Anatomy of a Veil

June 27 • 2014

Veils are a classic component of a bride’s attire, but knowing how to talk to your bridal shop or dress designer about them can be challenging since you don’t often run into them outside of a wedding-planning context. Today we try to tease out some of the intricacies of the veil to make it a bit more approachable so that you can quickly and easily obtain the veil of your dreams.

Veils can be divided into seven main lengths (Birdcage, Blusher, Fingertip, Ballet, Sweep, Chapel, and Cathedral) and a variety of styles such as the Bubble, the Juliet cap, and the Mantilla.



Photo found at: BHLDN Blog

The Birdcage is the shortest style and only covers about half the length of the face. Often times, it is attached to the hair with a decorated hairpin. The type of material used in the below picture is called French netting.

Altas & Elia Photography


Photo by: Altas & Elia Photography via MelindaRose Design on Etsy

The Blusher comes down to around the nape of the neck. When brought over the face, it ends in between the middle of the neck and the shoulders. It is made of a single layer and is worn over the face during the processional.

Kali Lu Photography

Photo by: Kali Lu Photo via Serephine

The Fingertip, rather than coming down to the actual fingertips, more often refers to a veil that ends somewhere between the elbows and the hands.

Caroline Tran

Photo by: Caroline Tran via EricaElizabethDesign on Etsy

The Ballet (also sometimes called an Intermission style) comes to an end somewhere between the hands and the knees and is often multilayered.

Marisey Accessories

Photo by: Marisey Accessories on Etsy

The Sweep (not pictured in the above diagram) just touches the floor.

Donal Doherty

Photo by: Donal Doherty via Love My Dress

The Chapel extends about seven feet from the headpiece and often trails lightly on the floor.

Christina Solomons


Photo by: Christina Solomons via Agnes Hart on Etsy

The Cathedral is a veil that extends onto the floor, much like the train of a dress, and may continue on the floor for 1-3 yards.

Gracefully Girly


Photo by: Gracefully Girly 


The Bubble (also called the Pouf) creates a diaphanous, multilevel, couture look and is very useful if you have short hair but still want big volume.

 Kelly Braman Photography


Photo by  Kelly Braman Photography via Green Wedding Shoes 


The Juliet Cap, named after Shakespeare’s hapless heroine who is often portrayed wearing this style of head ware, is a mesh or crocheted cap that is often decorated with pearls, beads, or jewels.

Tara West Photography


Photo by Tara West Photography via BlairNadeauMillinery on Etsy

The Mantilla (pronounced man-tea-ya) means “little mantle” in Spanish. It is a lace scarf that is worn over the head, but in popular jargon it often refers to any veil that is edged in lace.

Justin DeMutiis Photography

Photo by: Justin DeMutiis Photography via Elizabeth Anne Designs


Remember to think of your venue when picking out a wedding veil (or vice versa!). For example if you have a beach wedding, a cathedral veil could quickly become a nightmare! And just like your wedding dress, be sure not to store your veil in direct sunlight, as it can become discolored.

Interested in trying on some veils to become familiar with the different styles and possibilities? Visit local retailers like Andrea’s Bridal and Salon Burke in Portland and Spoil Me in Falmouth.

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