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The History Behind the Wedding Veil

March 20, 2019

The History Behind the Wedding Veil - To Have & To Borrow

Source: Natalie Franke Photography

Anyone who's ever set foot in a bridal boutique knows that when it comes to wedding accessories, veils reign supreme. This flowy piece of fabric adds elegance and drama to any wedding look (who doesn't want that?). The veil is also a unique accessory, one you can't wear anywhere else, and one that is uniquely “bridal.”

Brides have been wearing veils for so long that most of us just assume it's “what you should do.” But why exactly do we wear wedding veils, and what does wearing a veil symbolize? Today, let's examine the long, storied history of the veil.

 wedding veil

The Earliest Veils

Historians aren't completely sure when brides first started wearing wedding veils, but there are records indicating that the fashion was common in ancient Rome. In those days, the veil was meant for protection, as the Romans believed that evil spirits would try to thwart the bride on her journey to “happily ever after.”

Ancient veils were typically thick and red, obscuring their vision so badly that a family member had to help them find their way down the aisle (fun fact: this is why modern brides walk down the aisle with their fathers). While their superstitions may seem silly today, we have to hand it to the Roman empire — they were truly ahead of the trends!

wedding veil

Queen Victoria Reigns

Time marched on, empires rose and fell, and eventually the wedding veil fell out of fashion (we're shocked too). For many years, brides opted for alternative headgear like bonnets, garlands, or tiaras. But in 1840, one very high-profile wedding changed bridal fashion for good.

Queen Victoria, the 21-year-old sovereign of the British empire, married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in a white satin dress and a 12-foot long veil. Her fashion choices were unconventional for her time, but she looked so breathtaking that her look inspired brides all over Europe. In fact, historians today credit Queen Victoria for most of our modern bridal fashion, including the reappearance of the wedding veil.

cathedral wedding veil

Source: Adventure Stories

The Modern Bride

These days, brides aren't worried about warding away evil spirits. They're also not trying to copy a centuries-old monarch (though we have to admit, shedidlook stunning). Today's brides wear wedding veils on their special day for one reason and one reason only: because they want to! And thanks to bridal fashion designers, ladies these days haveplentyof veils to choose from.

If you want something that adds drama and glamour to your look, a cathedral veil with a long train is the perfect choice. If you want to keep this short and sassy, a blusher will give your look some vintage flair. If you want something lovely and feminine that won't trip you up on the dance floor, a fingertip or waltz veil will have you feeling like a princess.


As you search for your dream wedding dress, make sure you spend some time trying out different veil styles. After all, this accessory has a long history… and it's always been beautiful.

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