Etiquette for a Cathedral Veil

by Marissa Meyer

Princess Diana's 1981 wedding to Prince Charles is memorable in part because of the exceptionally long, intricate veil that cascaded behind her as she walked down the aisle. Any bride who is going for an elegant, regal look might consider a cathedral veil that extends up to 1 foot beyond her gown's train. Remember, however, that opting to make a statement with a super-sized veil says a great deal about the formality and style of your wedding.

Proper Location

A showy cathedral veil can overwhelm spaces that are too small or informal. An indoor venue with an aisle runner is preferable to keep the veil from getting dirty as it glides along the floor. The aisle should be long so your veil has room to follow behind you without distracting from your overall look. Because cathedral veils are regal and formal, your ceremony locale should be similarly ornate.

Appropriate Attire

Your wedding gown should complement the cathedral veil. Rosanna Casper, founder of wedding resource Idojour.com, says in Bridal Guide that a dress shorter than floor-length is an absolute "no" when wearing a cathedral veil. She recommends mermaid, trumpet or ball gowns; a dramatic veil looks awkward paired with a more casual dress. A dress made from genuine satin, silk or lace is ideal to match the formality of the cathedral veil. Don't forget to also select long gowns for your female attendants and tuxedos for male attendants, so your traditionally elegant look doesn't seem like overkill.

Virtue Symbolism

Some circles frown upon brides wearing veils if they are pregnant, have children, or are not being married for the first time, because the religious and historical origins of the veil state that it represents virtue. Although most modern brides select veils based on appearance preferences rather than their virginity status, a dramatic cathedral veil worn by an older or previously married bride might invite questioning looks from ultra-traditional guests. If being married in a religious institution, always check with your officiant to see whether there are rules regarding whether a bride may wear a veil and how long it can be.

On Your Wedding Day

A long, cumbersome veil requires willing attendants to help it lay properly during the ceremony, keep it from dragging before and after the ceremony, situate it for photos and remove it before the reception. The most formal weddings sometimes include pages specifically assigned to hold the bride's cathedral veil during the ceremony. As long as you have bridesmaids or family members willing to help keep your veil under control, you can select a cathedral piece.

Photo Credits

  • Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Marissa Meyer has been writing professionally since 2004, with work published on websites such as Decoded Science and MomSquawk. She has also worked in the travel, beauty, home design and childcare fields. Meyer received dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in communication and political science from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.