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The complete guide to wedding veil lengths: everything a bride-to-be needs to know

A 101 guide for brides-to-be

bridal wedding veils
Hollie Brotherton
Lifestyle & Commerce Senior Writer
23 April 2021
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A wedding veil is a traditional and romantic addition to any bridal look. If you choose to wear one, it will be one of your most important accessories, enhancing your dress and acting as a focal point as you walk down the aisle.

From the length to material, trims to embellishment, there are so many decisions to be made that it can be intimidating at first. While some brides prefer a face-framing birdcage style, others choose a long cathedral veil as seen on the likes of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

So which wedding veil length should you go for? And when should you wear one? Read on for our simple guide to help you make your choice.

RELATED: The best wedding veils to choose from for a beautiful bridal moment

Veil lengths - what do they all mean?

There are so many different veil lengths and styles that it can be overwhelming. While a long, flowing cathedral length veil is eye-catching and dramatic, you might find a shorter style suits you better, plus they're lower maintenance. Lengths can vary between brands, but here's a general guide to what they all mean.

Birdcage wedding veils

4-9 inches

These tend to either cover just the eyes or fall at the jawline. Classy and understated, they're a great option for brides who are having a low key wedding this summer.

Marilyn Monroe veil

Marilyn Monroe wore a birdcage veil at her wedding in the 1950s

Shoulder-length wedding veils

20-22 inches

Sitting just across the shoulder blades, this length is traditional but you can still show off your entire dress.

Elbow-length wedding veils

32 inches

As the name suggests, this veil falls past your shoulders and down to your elbows. It's popular for both contemporary and retro style veils, subtly covering your shoulders while also allowing you the freedom to move.

Millie Mackintosh veil

Millie Mackintosh wore an elbow-length veil at her 2013 wedding

Fingertip length wedding veils

38-40 inches

Also known as wrist length, this falls just beyond your hips. It's a favourite length as it's very versatile, suiting most dress styles and body shapes.

Waltz length wedding veils

60 inches

Sometimes known as a ballet length, a Waltz veil falls between your knee and your calf. These are considered long but are still easy to move in.

Floor-length wedding veils

72 inches

Designed to match the length of your dress, just skimming the floor, this is the perfect piece for brides who want a longer veil without the fuss of having a train.

Meghan markle veil

Meghan Markle wore a cathedral veil on her wedding day in 2018

Cathedral length wedding veils

108+ inches

The show stopper, and loved by the royals. This is the longest veil you can get, as it extends beyond the dress trailing elegantly behind you. 

Blusher wedding veils

This is an extra part of the veil, which covers the face and falls to just above where you would naturally hold a bouquet. Traditionally, it's lifted as the bride reaches the top of the aisle. While these are becoming less common and some consider them old fashioned, it's still a popular choice amongst brides.

Kate Middleton blusher veil

Kate Middleton wore a blusher veil at her wedding in 2011

What is the meaning behind a wedding veil?

Historically a wedding veil was a symbol of modesty and virginity. It was also believed to shield a bride from evil spirits. In cultures where arranged marriages are the norm, it can be used to hide her face from the groom. Today a veil is most commonly used purely as an accessory and draped over the back of the dress rather than in front.

When does a bride wear a wedding veil?

It's all down to personal choice, but many brides ask their hairstylist to securely attach their veil as a final touch before leaving for the ceremony. Brides wearing a longer veil may choose to take it off after photos and before the reception to avoid any mishaps, whilst those wearing a shorter veil often wear it through the evening. If you do remove it, ask your hairstylist to teach one of your bridesmaids how to do so without ruining your hair. They're usually attached with a comb or a headband and lots of bobby pins.

MORE: 10 breathtaking celebrity and royal wedding veils

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