If we haven't met yet, I'm Ivy! I'm a wedding and senior photographer based in East Tennessee. I hope you'll relax, grab a cup of coffee (or a baja blast), and enjoy seeing my latest work, as well as getting an inside look at my life!


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September 9, 2021

How to Choose a Veil | A Photographic Guide

how to choose a veil cathedral length

Long, short, or no veil at all? Lace detail, beading, or just plain? These questions are great starting points when you’re trying to choose a veil for your wedding day. If you’re hoping to figure out which veil is best for you, today’s your lucky day! It’s no secret I LOVE and appreciate a good veil – and as a wedding photographer, I’ve seen my fair share of veil styles. So I thought, why not use my expertise and catalog of images to help future brides choose a veil that’s perfect?

What makes a veil photogenic?

I’ll be discussing…




how to choose a veil

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve organized my favorite veil photos by length. We’ll start with the shortest & move up! Please note the perceived length of a veil is dependent on its position. A veil may look shorter/longer because it is higher/lower on your head. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll define the length based on how it appears in the images, not its actual dimensions.

Elbow-Length Veil

If you want to let your dress make the statement, a shorter veil may be a good option for you. An elbow-length veil will land approximately at – you guessed it – your elbows.

Rachel’s dress had beautiful buttons and lace detail. Her elbow-length veil helped accentuate the dress without stealing all the attention! She also had a hairpiece that was made from the veil and headband her mom wore on her wedding day. Can it get any sweeter?! The simplicity of this veil helped those special details shine!

how to choose a veil elbow length

Kelyn’s elbow-length veil flowed perfectly with her dress & allowed its fun ruffled train to take the spotlight! Her veil was a little longer than Rachel’s, but not quite long enough to be considered fingertip-length.

how to choose a veil elbow length
how to choose a veil elbow length

The biggest setback to a veil this short? If you’re wanting some fun under-the-veil pictures or you want to let your veil ‘fly’ for some photos (you’ll see what I’m talking about), an elbow-length veil is too short. It hangs beautifully, but the creative possibilities for a short veil are limited.

Fingertip-Length Veil

So you don’t want your veil to be too long, but you don’t want it to be too short either. Sounds like a fingertip-length veil may be a good choice for you! This veil usually stops just below your waist, at or lower than where your fingertips rest at your side.

Katie’s veil gives a great example not only of this length but also of all its creative possibilities! Her veil was *just* long enough for us to get some close-up under-the-veil shots like the one below.

how to choose a veil

We were even able to do a fun ‘flying’ veil photo for her! However – what you don’t see is my assistant lifting the veil as high as possible before dropping it and running as fast as she could out of the frame. A few different times. 😂 Katie, Chase, and I all saw that amazing effort on Emily’s part. Worth it!

how to choose a veil fingertip length

Katie’s veil was also long enough for us to do some close-ups with the veil coming toward the camera. I always love creating this effect with brides whose veils are long enough!

how to choose a veil

Laura Catherine had a beautiful fingertip-length veil as well. It was a little longer than Katie’s – in the photo on the right, it looks almost ballet-length. But with her hands resting at her side, it rested at about her fingertips! I loved the way it wrapped around her arms in the photo on the left. It also flowed stunningly with her dress as she walked!

how to choose a veil

Ballet-Length Veil (AKA Waltz Veil)

You know for sure you want a longer veil, but you don’t want it to reach the length of your train. Sis, say no more. Here’s an option for you! It’s a little longer than a fingertip-length veil, but it’s not quite chapel-length. A ballet-length veil rests on your lower leg – meaning, between your knees and your ankles.

Andrea’s ballet-length veil was gorgeous! Its lace detail perfectly complemented the lace sleeves and bodice of her dress. We were also able to get a variety of veil shots – under the veil, flying veil, and veil coming toward the camera! Plus, with it being shorter than floor-length, it was easy to maintain. No need to pick it up every time she walked from one place to the next!

how to choose a veil ballet length
how to choose a veil

Lindsey also had a beautiful ballet-length veil. Her dress had gorgeous lace sleeves, and her simple ballet-length veil added a special touch without stealing the show. Hers was a little on the shorter side – somewhere between fingertip-length and ballet-length. It definitely leans more ballet-length in the photo below, so that’s why it’s included in this section!

how to choose a veil ballet length

Lindsey took her veil off during her reception, and we snuck outside for some fun sunset portraits without it! If you’re indecisive and like both looks, problem solved. Wear a veil for your ceremony, get some portraits with it, then take it off and have no veil at your reception. Win-win!

Chapel-Length Veil

Now we’ve reached one of my personal favorites. The floor-length veil. If you know me, you know I could write a love letter to long veils. But since this post is for educational purposes, I will keep it as simple as possible! A chapel-length veil extends all the way to the floor. When you spread it out, it can stretch a few inches longer than your dress. Oh, and it’s perfect for just about any veil photo-op you could imagine.

My cousin Jennifer – who is GORGEOUS, by the way – had an amazing train + veil combo! Her veil was beautiful and stretched all the way to the floor. AND her gorgeous train still got all the attention it deserved.

how to choose a veil chapel length

SURPRISE! Here’s another option you may not have considered. Jennifer wore an elbow-length, brusher-style veil along with her chapel-length veil. The shorter veil covered her face as she walked down the aisle, and her dad lifted the veil when he gave her away. Such a sweet moment, and it led to so many beautiful photos. I mean, just LOOK at that portrait. So if you’re trying to choose a veil and you’re stuck between two lengths…. consider this option!

You can also remove the longer veil at your reception and leave the shorter veil in for the night! That way you still have a veil on during dances, but not one you may trip over. 😉

how to choose a veil blusher

Here are a few more chapel-length veil photos from Diana & Peyton’s wedding that I ADORE.

how to choose a veil chapel length
how to choose a veil

A chapel-length veil brings so many possibilities. Under-the-veil photos, flying veils, and veils coming toward the camera are all easily achievable with a veil of this length. Not only that, but the longer the veil, the wider the creative veil photo can be. If you quickly scroll back through all the under-the-veil photos & veils coming toward the camera in this blog post, you’ll be able to see the progression!

Cathedral-Length Veil

Finally, we have the cathedral-length veil. Like chapel-length, this veil reaches to the floor. But it’s even longer. A cathedral-length veil can stretch out a couple of feet behind your dress. It’s definitely higher-maintenance, but it’s so romantic. And as you can imagine, the photo possibilities are endless!

Rebekah wore a cathedral-length veil on the beach. Honestly, what a brave soul. That wind is no joke! However, when we placed the veil just right, the wind actually helped us create photographic magic. 😍

how to choose a veil cathedral length

Sara’s veil was absolutely stunning, and it flowed behind her in such a breathtaking way. Each time I look at her photos, I can’t take my eyes off of the veil. 😍

how to choose a veil cathedral length

Katelyn’s veil looked beautiful stretched out behind her dress. And here’s another example of getting wider creative shots with longer veils!

how to choose a veil

What makes a veil fly?

Lightweight, single-layer veils fly best for portraits! If the flying veil photo is a high priority, I recommend you choose a veil that is ballet-length or longer. Veils with no lace detail or beading will also fly more easily. You’ve seen in this post that veils with beading can fly, but they won’t fly as high as the veil pictured below. They also tend to have a more rigid shape. The embellishments weigh them down, and they won’t move as freely with the wind.

Stepheny’s veil was great for flying!

Does the color matter?

This may surprise you, but YES… the color of your veil matters! When you choose a veil, obviously you’ll want to choose one that matches the color of your dress. But I actually recommend choosing an off-white, ivory, or cream color. Not pure white! I recommend this for your dress, too. Why? Because the blue from the sky often reflects in anything that is pure white… and your veil especially can show up “blue” in your photos. This can be very difficult to hide in editing, especially if there are other blues and purples in your wedding colors.

Here’s a helpful hint: When I show up at a wedding, if I hold the veil up to the sunlight, sometimes it will look slightly blue or purple. At that point, I can already tell that it will photograph as blue or purple, not white. Before you choose a veil, look at it in the sunlight. I would even compare it to my dress if I could! That way you can get an idea of how it will photograph.

how to choose a veil

To all the brides trying to choose a veil – I hope this guide was helpful! I would love to know what style of veil is your favorite. Let me know in the comments! Aaaaand here’s one more fun flying veil photo for the road. Loved all of Dillon + Brookelyn’s veil portraits. 🙂

how to choose a veil chapel length

For another guide to veils, check out Tulle & Chantilly. I referenced their chart when identifying the veil lengths in these photos. Happy wedding planning!



Have a little time to read? You may also like….

Drew + Stepheny | A Lee University Chapel Wedding

Lexy + Ricky | A Downtown Chattanooga Engagement

How to Pick Outfits for Photos

Our Trip to Disney World in 2021

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