A History of Wedding Veils

Wedding veils differ in style and length almost as much as the wedding dress, and the history of wedding veils is as long as the marriage ceremony itself. Here I take a little look at the most popular looks over the last century!

​In the 1920s brides favoured lace cloche headdresses, which would sometimes be encircled with delicate flowers. Veils were typically made from silk and adorned with flowers and leaves that would match the blooms in the bride’s bouquet.

Veils began to make a more straightforward statement in the 1930s and into the 40’s when brides wore sheer veils hanging loosely over their heads. The main reason for this style of movement was a shortage of fabric during the war!

In the post-war years of the 1950s, there was a surge in elegant bridal accessories that led to some genuine “style statement” examples with birdcage veils and thin fitting skullcap veils.

This contemporary, forward-looking style mellowed somewhat in the 1960’s as wedding veils took on a more modern, unconventional feel. Long, floaty styles became prevalent and took their cue from the ‘hippie’ style of the time, and these veils were often fixed to pillbox hats. The 1970’s carried on with this more relaxed style with a trend for floral crowns with sheer veils draped over the top becoming popular.

By the 1980s, it was time for big and bold, and often it was the bigger, the better! We all witnessed Princess Diana’s enormous veil setting the trend for a whole generation of brides. Her fantastic veil was 24 feet in length but made the perfect dramatic statement as she entered St Paul’s Cathedral. (surely the longest and most familiar style in the wedding veil history!)

Fast forward to 2011, and the marriage of Kate Middleton to Prince William. The future princess wore a 72-inch ivory silk veil which also made for a dramatic entrance, this time at Westminster Abbey.

Dissimilar to most veils, this particular one appeared to be minus a comb; in its place was a skilfully pinned tiara and it sat resting on her ‘Demi Chignon’ styled hair. The soft veiling was positioned precisely, a timeless and ethereal result.

Today the modern bridal look is less defined but does have an emphasis on sheer fabrics and high detail.