Modern Bride’s Guide to Veils, Birdcages and Hair Accessories

Delicate, sparkly, floral, white adornments just look so beautiful in your hair… You stand taller, your hair softens, your face is dreamy and irresistibly magnetic. It’s too bad we don’t wear veils, tiaras, headbands, hair vines and clips every day. So don’t miss the opportunity to augment your look with a well-chosen hair accessory on your wedding day!

One of the most traditional hair adornment is a veil. Almost all brides wear it, and for good reason. It is magical. Sometimes, brides may feel a little ambivalent – or even downright reluctant – about a veil, but when they try it – they often change their minds! A veil can look traditional or modern, subtle or – with a tiara or another hair accessory – give you a really big oomph. Check out Ginger Spice’s look on her wedding day, below. For a uniquely memorable veil look without the length, consider a birdcage – perhaps even with the elements of a fascinator. These can look very quaint, very modern, or – of course – very British. See Miranda Lambert’s example below.

Although many brides cherish this beautiful tradition, if a veil is not your thing, we live in the day and age when – thankfully – you can do ‘you’. Perhaps you see yourself with a more modern hair accessory (in which case keep reading below), a cape, or even just a wildly original hairstyle. You will look most beautiful when you follow your heart.

Other accessories at your disposal can evoke spring, sprinkle some sparkles, or implement a bridal vision that will be talked about for years! I’m sure you have seen Audrey’s hairstyle on her wedding day to Mel Ferrer back in 1954. Posh Spice’s little crown made waves in 1999, and Ashley Tisdale’s floral headband is still remembered from 2014.

Whatever your vision, though, give a veil a try and you might be surprised to find out that it helps you achieve it.

Veil: the ultimate bridal accessory.

Why do brides in so many cultures wear a veil? It has a symbolic meaning – you are opening yourself up to a new beginning – but there’s also an aesthetic reason. It creates a uniquely beautiful look. With the veil, the bride looks taller, slimmer, and is always positioned against picture-perfect background. Just take a look at the pictures from Jessica Simpson’s wedding day, and compare Jessica’s face to her sister Ashlee’s.

Jessica-simpson via OneWedSeriously, it is sheer magic. It flows down from the top of the head in an unbroken line, visually adding height and proportionally slimming you down. It softens the shoulders, shows off the waist, and makes the bare skin look more delicate under the folds. And finally, your eyes, lips and jewelry will stand out against the soft and dreamy background.

VARIETY OF VEILS

Veils can be short and fun; mid-length and almost universally flattering; or long and dramatic. There are also creative versions like the mysterious halo veil, draping all around your head and body and topped with a headband; or the boho Juliet Cap, pinned above your ears for delightful folds and luscious loose locks. The latter type was made famous by supermodel Kate Moss in 2011.

Veils can be subtle and sophisticated, or elaborately decorated – with lace, appliques, crystal studs, metallic embroidery, or, really, anything you can imagine on a wedding dress. The veil can be embellished throughout (which works great with an understated dress), highlighted along the edges (such as a mantilla veil), or even designed with custom-embellishment filling in where the ornament on your dress ends. It can have a single, barely visible layer of tulle flowing behind you – or a virtual fountain of multiple layers, covering your face as well as your back.

Here are the main factors to take into account when imagining your dream veil:

COLORAmalClooney via TaniaMaras

The color should match the color of the dress as closely as possible. If your dress has a fanciful color that you are having trouble matching, try a neutral color like ivory.

LENGTH

The length depends on the dress and the setting.

  • Long veil will give you the most dramatic, picture-perfect look. It can be a lot of work to protect the veil from trailing on the floor, but then your wedding picture could look a little like Amal Clooney’s on the right.
  • For an outdoor ceremony, shorter veils tend to be more practical.
  • A traditional gown, such as ball gown, flows best with a mid-length veil.
  • A slightly non-traditional gown, such as ankle-length, works best with a mid-length veil as well. Remember Bee Shaffer?
  • A highly modern look, such as a jumpsuit, looks best with a birdcage or shoulder-length veil and almost lands you in the fascinator territory. Keep reading for lots of tips on those accessories as well!

VEIL LOOKS

You could style your veil with a tiara or another head piece for a big impact with your understated dress. Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and Miranda Kerr have worn show-stopping tiaras on their wedding day.

You could wear your veil on top of your head (just above the forehead), crown of the head (a little further back), or at the back of your head (low bun for a sophisticated modern look). The ideal placement depends on your hairstyle and your theme. Solenn Heusaff and Georgina Wilson, celebrities known in Europe, chose to place their veil at the back of their head on their wedding day.

SECOND LOOK

Will you keep your veil on throughout the reception, take it off, or swap it for a less formal hair piece? You may want to explore a birdcage, a fascinator, or another hair accessory from the choice below.

Birdcage veils and even fascinators.

If your dress has elaborate decoration on the back, maybe a long veil is not in the cards. Keep your veil options open with a birdcage – its lovely texture looks crisp, holding shape and volume for the best effect, making you look taller. A birdcage takes its name from its appearance – it covers the top of your head and your eyes. Jessica Alba combined her veil with a birdcage – see picture below – but it could also be used alone.

Birdcage veils can come with sparkles, feathers, flowers, or even fascinator-like ‘doll hats’, all of which adds curves and softness to your face and ethereal movement to your style. Celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lauren Conrad and Miranda Kerr provide plenty of derby dress code inspiration, as well as ideas on how to echo the elements of the dress in your hair accessories.

Somehow, the closer an accessory is to the face, the pickier we get. We want nothing to detract from our perfect face. There’s already lots going on there: makeup, hair, jewelry, precious porcelain of the skin. How do we make sure that the hair accessory is the cherry on top… not a bull in a china shop?

TEXTUREfascinator with birdcage pinterest

The basic accessory rule applies. More delicate facial features (think dainty cheek bones and slim noses) and lighter hair look best with more delicate decorative elements. And conversely, more prominent features and darker hair is enhanced by bolder shapes and wider netting.

SHAPE

The hair accessory should flatter the shape of your face.

  • In what ways is your face not a perfect oval? For example, is it square, wide, or very long?
  • In what ways does your hair make the face look more or less oval? For example, curly hair framing your cheeks widens it, an updo or long straight hair lengthens it, whereas hair tightly combed back shows off the shape of the face as it is.
  • In what ways does your jewelry make the face look more or less oval? For example, long earrings lengthen it, while rounded jewelry  lends more roundness all around. Here’s a full primer on jewelry and optical illusions.darker fascinator via pinterest eloise couture
  • Finally, how can the hair accessory round out the look for the most flattering shape? A bulky fasinator at the top of your head will lengthen your face. Any long vertical elements, such as stiff feathers, will, too. A curvy hair accessory with flowers or fluffy feathers will add roundness. A hairpiece behind your ear, or a wide netting veil covering your forehead, will widen your face. A fascinator is usually a large accessory – it could be about one-third to a half of the size of your face, so it can do a lot to change the shape of your face.

COLOR

Keeping the color and the decorative elements of the hair accessory in line with those of the dress is optional, provided that there is some commonality of shapes or elements. With dark hair, you could go for a darker shade of ivory, beige, tan or mauve to reduce the contrast with your hair. Alternatively, bold color choices are yours for the taking.

Tiaras for a princess.

This is your day to be a princess! Follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth Taylor and Pippa Middleton to get all eyes on you.

Flowers to define your style.

Or perhaps you’d prefer to embody pure and hopeful spring, or evoke the look of a sensuous flamenco dancer? Bridal visions of vintage, boho, or spanish-style drama will come alive with the right hairpiece.

If you are tall or have a long face, flowers tend to be a great choice for a hair style that will not lengthen you. Roses or your favorite flowers behind your ears will widen your face, hair vines will subtly bring out the shine in your hair, and floral headbands are endlessly romantic. Solange Knowles and Jasmine Sanders used this trick in their high-profile appearances.

Coordinate your hair pieces with the rest of your jewelry, especially earrings, carefully. The bigger the hair piece, the smaller the room for your earrings to shine.

 

 

 

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