To veil, or not to veil…this is the question.

The VEIL – By Jane Wolff & Dale McCarthy of McCarthyWolff Bridalwear

“To veil, or not to veil – that is the question”

Having had the privilege of working with so many radiant brides in the McCarthy Wolff studio, we have seen first hand the internal struggle that exists when it comes to wearing a veil. This is a real thing…

It seems more common these days for a bride to start off by not wanting to wear a veil – this is partly due to the general age group of new brides, which has changed from late teens / early twenties a few decades ago, to late twenties / early thirties. The contemporary bride has a stronger sense of self and is not just wearing a veil because she thinks she must follow tradition, without really knowing why. The choice is hers!

*Hooray Weddings insert: Yay for confidence, yay for choices!!*

There is also the element that yes, the jig is up! Times have changed – The cloistered virginal bride is, for the most part, a product of times gone by. Modern women are strong and independent, with a keen sense of individuality. Blindly following an outdated tradition can almost seem wrong.

In saying this though, once you have your dress on and you are twirling in front of the mirror admiring the incredible beauty that is you, in the most magnificent gown you will ever wear… there is a magic that happens when the veil goes on… THIS is often the moment where a bride not only looks, but feels the part. The spell is complete.

As the veil is secured in place at the final wedding dress fitting, brides (and moms, sisters, bridesmaids & friends!!) often become overwhelmed. We have seen many “anti-veil” brides be converted at their last fitting!

Yes, it is purely a tradition linked to feminine vulnerability. A tradition that has SO many different sources it is difficult to pin point one specific origin. Every culture has a different reason for using a veil.

What we do know is that veils have cast their spell on us. The very same magic that existed then, exists now or it wouldn’t have stood the test of time.

Lets take a look at some of the most beautiful styles.


A blusher refers to the part of a veil that covers your face, to hide your blushing cheeks – this length can vary from just below your chin, to just above the elbow, giving you the freedom to hold your bouquet without fighting a swathe of tulle! This can cascade down the sides to the floor for a more dramatic look.

This detail is often reserved for the more conservative, traditional bride; someone who wants the experience of her husband-to-be (or father) lifting the veil. It can be a wonderfully symbolic gesture, and a very touching moment to mark the beginning of the actual wedding ceremony.

Many women are now opting to exclude the “blusher” on the veil, instead using this element exclusively as a second tier on the back of the veil.


A Birdcage veil is a modest piece of tulle/netting that covers a small portion of your face. Although the traditional Birdcage veil, usually made of stiff netting is somewhat dated, it can be rather striking if worn with the right gown, on the right woman. This can be an asset to any vintage inspired bride…just ensure you are working with an experienced designer who can create something timeless and beautiful for you.


This is our favourite style of veil because it is designed purely to compliment the specific gown, down to the individual placement of lace motifs (often the same lace from the gown itself), handstrung beads and sculpted tulle. The tulle forms a pseudo-”cloche”, reminiscent of the veils from the 1920’s and 1930’s. This creates an extremely classic, demure look with the lace and beading focused around the head, framing the face. These veils tend to be rather dramatic, while showcasing the individualistic spirit of the bride.


The Cathedral veil is usually at least 50cm longer than the train of your dress and cascades down the back of the gown and pools on the floor. We LOVE this look because of its sheer drama, elegance and the way it magically floats behind the bride as she makes her way down the aisle. This veil often features a dramatic lace border and is one of the most classic, traditional veils. A Cathedral veil is best showcased in a large wedding venue, where the full length and splendor of the bride’s dress and veil can be appreciated by all.


This veil goes without saying that, no matter the style, it is special. A cherished piece of family history.

You of course can have your designer refashion it to suit your gown by adding a bit of beading or lace detail. But no matter the style, embracing the family tradition is what makes it beautiful. A pure, vintage veil will have a totally different appearance when paired with a modern wedding dress – and it will be the ultimate in “Something Old, Something New”!


The most traditional style of veil is made of fine tulle, for all of the obvious reasons – it is sheer, lightweight and holds its shape beautifully when even lightly gathered.

Now, don’t be afraid to try something a bit different – if the traditional route is not for you, ask your designer to get creative & come up with a new concept for you; maybe something unique and special in a different fabric than what is traditionally used – how about silk chiffon, full lace, or beaded fabric perhaps? Your veil is only worn for a short time, so as long as it compliments your gown, why not create something that is unique and completely YOU!


  1. Be open to the idea of wearing a veil. You only get to wear a veil once, and it really does add a little touch of mysterious magic.
  2. You can wear a veil that does not cover your face. Our most popular veils are those that are just worn as an accessory trailing down the back of the wedding dgown.
  3. Your veil should not overpower your gown. Our rule of thumb: The more elaborate your gown, the simpler the veil. Thus, the simpler the gown, the more elaborate the veil.
  4. If you are petite, we advise choosing a longer veil. A veil that ends closer to your waist runs the risk of making you appear short. Proportions are everything!
  5. Think about the specific details on your dress – is your dress all about the back, for example? If it is, then consider this when choosing your veil. A long, sheer veil will not detract from any detail, but a shorter veil adorned with lace may fight the dress details a bit!
  6. Consider the colour of the veil. Try to keep the veil a similar shade/tone to your gown, otherwise this can be a huge distraction. A stark white veil will not compliment a warm, rich ivory gown!
  7. Think about your hairstyle when choosing a veil – the two elements do need to work together seamlessly to compliment each other. Also, consider having a bridesmaid or wedding co-ordinater who will be able to assist you in taking it off for the reception if desired, without it ruining your hair. Discuss this with your designer and hairstylist, too!
  8. Venue: will you have the space required for the spectacle of a long cascading veil, or are you limited to something a bit more modest? Consider, Princess Diana had St Pauls’ cathedral for her long train and veil…!

To view more of Jane and Dale’s work, please visit their website McCarthy Wolff. They are two of the most talented people we know. If their gowns and corsetry don’t make your jaw drop, their illustrations and artworks will. To follow Dale and Jane’s journey please search these hashtags on Instagram: #mccarthywolffART and #mccarthywolff

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