Have you ever wondered where the societal norm of a wedding veil came from? Whether you’re uncertain if a veil is for you, or you’re curious about their origin, we may be able to help.
A Brief History of Wedding Veils
Bridal veils have varied in style and length through history almost as much as the wedding dress, with most experts believing that the tradition began during the Roman era. Brides wore veils to protect themselves from enchanting evil spirits, and covered their faces to protect themselves. Moving throughout history veils were worn as a sign of religious humility and a vessel for showing respect until the reign of Queen Victoria.
The Victorians turned that reverence into a status symbol, and held the belief that the longer and heavier the veil, the higher the prestige- hence the length of the latest royal wedding trails.
Modern day brides still use a wedding veil as an expression of chastity and religious humility, but an increasing number of brides are opting to use the veil as a style choice.
We recap the most prominent veil styles over the last century, and endeavour to show you our favourites from the current one.
The 1920s saw brides favouring the lace cloche headdresses, some of which would be encircled with flowers. Veils were usually made of silk materials and decorated with flowers and leaves that would match the blooms in the brides bouquet.
Veils started to make a more simple statement in the 1930s and into the 40’s when brides wore shear veils hanging loosely over their heads. The main reason for this style movement was a shortage of fabric during the war. Celebrities like Kate Moss and Lily Allen opted for a bridal cap during their 2011 weddings, paying homage to the vintage trend of the time.
In the post-war years of the 1950s an enviable surge in elaborate bridal accessories brought about real style statement pieces including birdcage veils and slender fitting skullcap veils.
This fashion-forward look mellowed in the 60s with veils taking on a more modern, boho vibe. Long, floaty styles became popular and took their cue from the ‘flower-power’ look of the time. These were often attached to pillbox hats. The 1970’s continued with a more relaxed style to the trend with floral crowns and shear veils draped over the top.
By the 1980s, the bigger the better! We saw Princess Diana’s mammoth veil setting the trend for a whole generation of brides. Her amazing veil was 24 feet long but the perfect length to make a dramatic statement as she entered St Paul’s cathedral. (surely the longest and most recognisable style in the history of wedding veils!)
The Royal Wedding
Flash forward to 2011 and Kate Middleton’s 72-inch ivory silk bridal veil also made for a dramatic entrance at Westminster. “Kate opted for the ‘celestial halo’ effect,” says designer Kelly from Richard Designs.
“Unlike most veils, this particular one appeared to be without a comb; instead skilfully pinned behind the halo tiara and resting on her ‘Demi Chignon’ styled hair. The soft veiling was positioned precisely on to the comb to allow the correct amount of blusher to fall when it is worn forward. An ode to Catherine, this veil is timeless and ethereal!”
Today the modern bridal veil is less defined and more dependent on the brides preferences. Many brides today go without a veil, others opt for a shorter length style, some decide to wear family heirlooms, with personal preference being at the forefront.
Our Favourite Wedding Veils to Buy Now
Cupid Dot Mesh Short Veil, £125
This design from Rixo combines old and new with a dainty vintage pattern and a modern shorter length, we love.
Bingham Veil, £468
A wedding veil that reminds us of angel wings.
Embellished Pearl Veil, £110
How beautiful is the embroidered pearl detailing on this wedding veil.
Floral Embroidered Veil, £445
A stunning arrangement of scattered florals and embroidered organza flowers, how dreamy.
Detachable Bow Veil, £215
A functional wedding veil, just remove the bow for your wedding reception and you’re ready to dance.