Whether you love tradition or abhor it, there's likely a headpiece or veil that will appeal to your fashionable side.

Share story

Molly Guy, the owner of Stone Fox Bride in New York, often finds herself catering to an unconventional client, one inclined to tweak or entirely dispense with tradition — and with it the wearing of a wedding veil.

That bride, she says, “can barely stomach the idea of wearing a white dress, let alone a veil.”

Another type, Guy says, is more likely to conform. “Her mother and grandmother got married in a veil, and she will adhere to tradition.”

Yet a third, she says, reads Vogue and doesn’t care about the traditional: “She loves the accessory element of a veil.”

Whichever type of bride — in favor, opposed or simply on the fence — her decision to wear a veil, or reject it, is apt be fraught, heavily weighted by considerations of faith, family pressures, feminist principles and the no less compelling dictates of style.

But what sets this bride apart from her mother’s generation is a ringing conviction that wearing a veil is less often a matter of custom than it is one of personal choice.

Allison Shoening, 33, of Centennial, Colo., a project manager for a law firm, is to marry in September. She chose to wear a veil with the blusher, the portion that covers her face.

“I struggled with the decision myself for a while,” Shoening says. “Overall, I like the look of a veil. It adds an old-fashioned element to my wedding.”

And a wisp of decorum.

“If I go strapless, I want to keep my look balanced,” she says. “I just don’t want everything bare.”

Others drop the veil, or at least the blusher, dismissing these elements as relics of male oppression. Some brides sidestep the issue entirely, says Alexis Swerdloff, 33, the editor of New York Weddings. She says they replace the frothy length of
cloth with a smaller, more discreet head covering, something like the birdcage (a small veil that cups the face) or the more trend-driven fascinator, an ornamental headpiece customarily embellished with a wisp of tulle extending slightly over one eye.

Such choices tend to be governed less by custom than by taste. Wearing a fascinator, or alternately, a garland of flowers or jewel-studded comb, “is a way of saying, ‘Oh, so, I’m a modern, cool bride, and I just like the way this looks,’” Swerdloff says.

Meghan Boledovich, a restaurant forager at Print in New York, plans to wear a small veil when she marries in July.

“I would wear it mostly because of how it looks,” she says.

According to the Wedding Report, which tracks industry trends, based on government data and surveys of couples, the average amount spent on dress accessories (mostly veils, but other items, too) was $226 in 2015, a drop of 1.3 percent from 2014.

Lindsay Short, a senior accessories buyer for David’s Bridal, says she is seeing an uptick in brides who wear veils. “In particular to a return to the cathedral veil,” she says. “Our customer tends to be the bride that wants the ball gown and the fairy tale.”

From left: Sara Gabriel Elodie Veil, $140 at bhldn.com; Jennifer Behr Alyssa Headwrap, $352.50 at jcrew.com; Debra Moreland Short & Sweet Blusher, $120 at bhldn.com
From left: Sara Gabriel Elodie Veil, $140 at bhldn.com; Jennifer Behr Alyssa Headwrap, $352.50 at jcrew.com; Debra Moreland Short & Sweet Blusher, $120 at bhldn.com

A recent resurgence of lace-lavished, formfitting gowns calls for the trailing veil and train, Short says. “It gives her that showstopping moment many brides still dream of.”

Kristen Maxwell Cooper, the executive editor of The Knot, said surveys last year of brides who use that wedding-planning website showed that 57 percent bought a veil. In contrast, in 2013, only 31 percent of the brides surveyed said they bought one.

“Sometimes choosing to wear a veil has nothing to do with tradition,” Cooper says. “The feeling is that it’s just something beautiful. If you’re going to wear it, it’s now or never.”

For some brides-to-be, an elaborate veil remains the single most effusive expression of a long-cherished fantasy.

“I always imagined I would wear a cathedral veil,” says Allison Appell Cohen, 27, an account manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas in Dallas. “Every girl wants to be princess for a few hours. The veil is a statement maker, it’s so regal. Just to have it and the train of my dress trailing behind me: I knew that’s what I wanted.”

For others, it’s about tradition. Karen Salva, 28, a location scout in the film industry, was recently married in Mystic, Conn., in a quasi-traditional Jewish ceremony, her face and hair concealed. “As I got to the huppah,” she says, “my mother lifted the veil up and presented my husband to me.”

Posting on the wedding blog “Love My Dress,” Jennifer Cranham commented that she initially hesitated to wear a veil. “But now, it’s one of the things I’m most excited about,” says Cranham, who will marry this year.

Her mother was as well. Cranham wrote that when she tried on her veil in the fitting room, her mother gazed at her raptly. “The dress didn’t get tears,” Cranham says. “But the veil did.”