What is a Birdcage Veil?

A birdcage veil is a short wedding veil that covers part of the face. It perches jauntily on your head and can be anywhere from a few inches in length to enough to reach your chin.  Whatever the length, a birdcage veil is delightfully flexible and works with so many wedding hairstyles and outfits.  They are generally made from Russian Veiling which is a mesh type of veil with large diamond-shaped openings.  Many brides think wearing a wedding veil is an either-or proposition.  Over the years, the birdcage veil has evolved and now encompasses bridal headpieces made from many types of bridal fabric and falls no longer than the chin.    

It’s easy to wear and provides versatility for a variety of wedding ensembles.

A Little Bit of History

I find it helpful to understand when a headpiece was extremely popular.  This allows me to break rules and ensure that what I am creating still feels modern.  So, when did the birdcage veil make an appearance or become really popular?

Short version: a birdcage veil was the pièce de résistance of the 1940s. 

Longer version: During WWII, pretty much everything was rationed.  Fabric was no exception so wedding gowns and veils that needed lots of fabric were a problem.  Wedding dresses became less voluminous and it was common for brides to wear day suits with so many men shipping off to the war. Brides were opting for quick, informal ceremonies. But every bride wants to feel special. So even if ceremonies were scheduled quickly, and weddings had to be uncomplicated, brides still wanted something to make their outfit a little more special.  The birdcage veil was the perfect solution and provided an elegant finishing touch to a simple wedding ensemble.

Now, what about the name?  It stems from the shape that the piece creates around the head.  My guess is that someone probably remarked that it looked like a hanging birdcage, and voilà the name stuck.  

1940s bride

Fabric Shortages

WWII bride

Wartime Bride

vintage bride

Simple Ceremonies

FAQ about The Birdcage Veil

Brides have tons of questions about birdcage veils but not too many of us were around back then.  Here are some of the most popular questions:

  • How do I know if it’s right for me?

  • What type of wedding attire works best?

  • What type of hairstyle works best?

  • Do you wear it after the ceremony?

  • Does it have to be white?

  • How do I select the right one?

  • Where should it fall on the face?

Is a Birdcage Veil Right for Me?

So let’s start with the first question.  How do I know if a birdcage veil is right for me?  The fact that you’re reading this, probably means that you are looking for something that is a bit more unique and expressive. Maybe you’re wearing a shorter wedding dress, or a silk pants suit?  Is your wedding dress less traditional?  Is it a vintage ensemble or perhaps vintage-inspired?  Are you looking to make a more dramatic statement?  Maybe you want a simple accent?  Whatever the reason, a birdcage veil offers a delightful alternative to a more traditional wedding veil.  

Remember that your birdcage veil is an accessory so you’ll coordinate with your wedding ensemble.  Treat the veil the same way that you would when selecting your wedding shoes. It doesn’t need to be matchy-matchy. Simply have a common element among the different pieces.  Are you partial to pearls? Make that your unifying element.  Lace can also work, as can crystals. 

A birdcage veil works with a wide variety of bridal hairstyles.  A classic chignon, a loose low bun, a pixie coif, and a loose flowing do are all perfectly good hairstyle options.  The thing to consider is the weight of the headpiece and how it will be secured in your hair.  If you have short or very fine hair, have the birdcage veil mounted on a headband rather than a comb.  Then, there is the option of wearing a color other than white.  Silver, gold, blush, or champagne are fabulous color options. If you’re a bride looking to express your style birdcage veils offer a gorgeous option.        

Once you’ve made that decision it’s time to get down to specifics.  

How Do I Select the Right One?

Start With The Shape of Your Face


There are quite a few styles of birdcage veils that selecting the right one can feel a tad overwhelming.  If that is the case, stop, take a deep breath, and keep reading. When trying to compare different options, consider the size of the opening on the veil (the size of the diamond on the veil), the shape and width of the birdcage, where it is gathered, and how it sits on the head.  Why do you ask?  Well, these are the elements that you need to work with to complement the shape of your face.

Oval – this face shape is the most versatile and you can wear pretty much any style of a birdcage veil.  An oval face allows you to place the veil either off to the side or more in the center of your head.

Heart – with a heart-shaped face, you’ll want to draw attention to your eyes and cheekbones.  This means that you’ll want to position your birdcage veil above your ear.

Round – with a round-shaped face you’ll want to make your face look longer.  In order to achieve this, look for something that creates volume and height and position it at the top of the head.  This will elongate your face.  You’ll want to avoid anything with too much fullness at the sides.

Square – with a square-shaped face, look for an asymmetrical veil to help play down your angular jaw.  You’ll want to avoid too much volume at the top of your head or near your ears.

Rectangle – with a rectangle-shaped face, you want to add volume around your face and ears.  A bandeau birdcage veil is a wonderful option. You’ll want to avoid too much volume at the top of your head which will further elongate your face.

If all this feels too overwhelming there is a simple solution. Place your birdcage veil towards the back of your head.  This backward-facing headpiece will work for all face shapes. This will create a wisp of a veil that your guests will admire as you exchange your vows.

Ready to Purchase Your Birdcage Veil?

Bespoke Birdcage Veil

contact me

Ultimate DIY Birdcage Veil Tutorial

Learn More