Why Do Brides Wear Wedding Veils?

Understand where this tradition came from, plus decide whether or not it's right for you.

charla jesse wedding couple on balcony
Photo: Apryl Ann Photography

If you've ever wondered why a bride-to-be walks down the aisle wearing a beautiful veil, you're not alone. While widely accepted as a beautiful bridal accessory, most women don't understand the history of these statement-making pieces. Spoiler alert: It's not just a fashion choice. To get a better understanding of why a bride often wears a veil, how to wear one, or if the accessory is even right for you, we consulted Julie Sabatino, expert bridal stylist and founder of the The Stylish Bride. Here, she shares a detailed history of the wedding veil and everything a bride-to-be should know.

Where did the tradition of wearing a wedding veil come from?

Although the veil's history varies based on who you ask, most experts agree that you can trace its roots back to Rome, where a bride used to walk down the aisle with a veil over her face in order to disguise herself from any evil spirits who wanted to thwart her happiness. Still, Sabatino notes that a veil means different things to different faiths. Despite their current popularity, the expert notes that that veils did go out style for some time, and only became a beloved accessory again after Queen Victoria's wedding.

What does a wedding veil signify now?

Unlike in years past, women around the world largely view the wedding veil as a contemporary bridal tradition that's signifies innocence and purity. What's more, some women simply see it as a wedding-specific accessory, and view wearing one as a rite of passage. Ultimately, wearing a wedding veil is entirely optional, and although some women choose not to wear them, Sabatino suggests you give it some consideration before deciding one way or another. She stresses that your wedding day is likely the only time in your life that you'll be able to wear something like this, so you may want to at least try a few styles on to see if you like them.

I know I don't want to wear a wedding veil. What are my other options?

In the event that you don't want to wear a veil on your big day, Sabatino says that it's still very possible to do something special for the ceremony that makes your wedding dress look especially statement-making. She recommends taking a piece of tulle to create a watteau (a piece of fabric that is not part of a dress) on the back of your dress which can easily be detached at the shoulders. A long train, a special headpiece, or even a cape are all ways to make your ceremony look different, too.

Remember these wedding veil dos and don'ts.

Sabatino says one of the best parts of wearing a wedding veil is the drama it creates, so make sure yours is well anchored onto your head so it doesn't fall off during the ceremony. Remember that it doesn't have to look perfect: The point of a veil is that it floats behind you, so it will move as you do.

When selecting a veil, Sabatino recommends choosing a length based on the vibe you're going for. Longer veils, she says, feel more dramatic and elegant, while shorter veils are fresh and fun. Another detail to consider is the blusher, or the shorter piece of a veil that's typically worn over the front of the bride's face as she walks down the aisle. Many contemporary brides choose not to wear a blusher, but you certainly can if you like a more traditional look.

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