A crash course in veil shapes, lengths and fabrics

You’ve spent months stalking Instagram, Pinterest and wedding blogs to hunt down the ultimate wedding dress. Once you have it, you have full permission to turn your focus to its ultimate partner-in-crime: The Veil.

If you’ve decided to wear a one, you may have already figured out that there is a huge array of options to choose from. But before you get completely swept away with details of lace, beading and comb placement, take a moment to set the foundations and understand the main shapes you’ll be choosing from.

While there are many elaborate variations, popular modern veils to fall into one of six shapes. So we’ve put together a briefing for you – a crash course in shapes, lengths and fabrics. A Drop Veil is an oval-shaped veil that gets its name because it’s as though it’s been “dropped” on the crown of your head (it’s discreetly attached with a comb). The front part forms a “blusher” that covers the face, and this can of course be pushed back at the right time in the ceremony.   

A drop lace square veil via Elle + Adhira

A Single-Tier Veil is quite literally a single layer of tulle, silk or net that sits at the back of the head. It’s for the bride who wants a relatively minimalist veil, and wants her face open at all times.

Elle + Adhira veil shot by Paris Hawken

An Elle + Adhira single-tier veil (pic by Paris Hawken).

A Double-Tier Veil(or a two-tier veil) is for brides that aren’t afraid of a bit of volume. They can be worn with the top tier in front of the face, or with it pulled back to add extra height. When worn over the face, they look a little different from drop veils in that they cut a clean, straight(ish) line across the waist (drop veils tend to have a softer wave). If you’d like the drama of a double-tier veil without the 80s pouf factor, choose a veil made from silk or English net veil, rather than a traditional tulle, which is stiffer.

Elle + Adhira’s Priya 3D Petal Rectangle double-tier veil

A Mantilla Veil is either full-lace or has a wide lace trim. Classically, it’s worn so that the lace frames the face closely. Depending on how you style it, Mantilla veils can either lend an old-world mystery or exotic bohemian feel to your aesthetic. 

A Mantilla veil via The Overwhelmed Bride.

A Cap Veil (also called a Juliet Cap Veil) makes the shape of a cap on the head, and bunches either at one side or both sides of the face. Kate Moss wore one on her wedding day. We say no more…

Kate Moss’s cap veil 

A Birdcage Veil may not the most Instagrammed shape of the year, but there’s no denying it adds a confident, sexy touch to a bridal outfit. Birdcage veils are often made with a wide net fabric – but they don’t have to be. To ensure your birdcage veil is sleek and modern, choose one that sits close to your face and team it with a structured, figure-hugging gown.

The Ariel Scattered Jewel Birdcage veil via Elle + Adhira

Like we said, this veil business is complex stuff … and we’ve only been talking shape. Once you’ve got your head (pardon the pun!) around the different shapes, the three other important elements are length, colour, and fabric.


Birdcage veils aside, the shortest veil cut is shoulder-length, and the longest is “cathedral” – up to 120” or 300 cm. Our favorites? A “chapel” or floor length veil that provides just a very slight train at the back, and a fingertip veil has a lighter, airier feel.

Iris Olivia in a fingertip length veil, via Elle + Adhira.


A simple, yet oh-so-important rule: Make sure your veil is at least as dark as your wedding dress. Wearing an ivory dress with a white veil will make you look more like a nurse than a bride, and will leave your dress looking positively yellow. Adventurous brides could consider wearing a darker veil to their dress, which can lend an old-worldly feel.

Nnavascues cream lace veil

A cream veil with an ivory dress, via Navascues.


You can design the shape, length and colour of your veil to perfection, but the factor that often leaves a veil looking different from the Pinterest board of inspiration you’ve been dreaming about is fabric. Typically, veils are made with a fabric known as bridal illusion tulle, which is very sheer and photographs beautifully. However, if you’re after a veil with very little volume or “pouf”, and you’d rather something that falls down the back like water rather than catching the wind easily and bouncing around, opt for an English net or a silk tulle veil. English net is more affordable but is also slightly more opaque; silk tulle is the most luxe option – delicate and silky to the touch, and absolutely zero volume.

Questions about which veil to choose? We’re here to help – Contact Us

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