For many brides, wearing a wedding veil is a no-brainer—the accessory is an incredibly traditional aspect of wedding-day fashion. Not only are veils totally stunning, adding to the overarching look of the quintessential bride, but they've also long been part of nuptial history. In ancient Rome, they were thought to protect a bride from evil spirits. Nowadays, we mostly wear them for show or in honor of various religious ceremonies, but that doesn't make them any less special. And with the number of statement-making veils seen at high-profile weddings of late—we're looking at you, Meghan Markle—the classic accessories are even more coveted than ever before.
While a veil might look like it would be fairly simple to create, they actually require intricate design work. In fact, many are made entirely by hand. That's the only way Anita Aguirre, veil designer and founder of Girl & Serious Dream, creates her stunning accessories. "Veils require more hand-work and time than you could imagine," she says. "Each veil is individually cut and every lace appliqué is hand placed and attached one at a time." To get a true idea of what goes on behind the scenes as designer create these gorgeous masterpieces, we asked Aguirre and designer Hayley Paige to speak to this process, from start to finish.
As Aguirre explains, every design starts with an idea. This can be based off of anything the designer is exposed to—her travels, the streets upon which she walks, the architecture surrounding her, any fabrics that she is exposed to, and more. "Inspiration is everywhere! I make sketches, notes, and source fabrics that will work well with the ideas I have based on qualities like drape, translucency, lace weight, design, and colors," she says. "I make mood boards with photographs, sketches, and brief notes."
Once the ideation process is complete and finalized, and the final sketch has been established, next comes the fun part: designing the veil. Aguirre begins by making a prototype in the actual scale and with the materials she wants to use. "I find it very important to prototype on the real size of the veil to achieve the right proportions and shape," she says. "I draft a pattern or drape the shape of the veil I want on my dress form until I'm happy with the result." This takes many iterations, patience, and an eye for detail. "Most of the time the final result is close to the original design idea and other times it evolves into a more suitable design idea," she adds.
Most veils feature some form of embellishment, from beads and pearls to crystals and lace appliques. Although it may seem like this would be part of the basic design of a veil, it's actually done much later. What's more, it's a step that's far more time-consuming than you'd imagine. For Paige, who's known for her stunning wedding dresses and veils, the first step in the creation of embellishments is to submit a swatch for development. "This is mainly for us to 'test' the effect of the embellishment and how well it will work on fine tulle," she explains. "A lot of times we have to modify the weight, application, or proportion and scale of the artwork so that it works well with both the fabric and the shape." Once the pattern and artwork is established, Paige then draws that design directly onto the veil, showing exactly where these extra details will go.
Once a designer is completely happy with the final design, Aguirre says samples are created and sent to stores for brides to try on with their wedding dresses. "Once a bride falls in love with one of our veil designs and orders it from one of our retailers, we cut and sew it to order," she explains. "The tulle, which is the most common fabric used for veils, is cut by hand using the original pattern so the shape is exactly the same as the sample tried on at the store." Paige adds that this step typically represents the longest part of production for her veils. "We have to adjust the length and width of the tulle, not only taking into account the height of the bride, but also the details of her dress and where the veil should properly 'highlight,'" she says.
In Aguirre's shop, all lace is hand-cut and painstakingly arranged by hand right onto the veil's fabric with pins. "This process is very meticulous, requires attention to detail, a keen eye to conceal the lace seams, and to make the veil the same as the sample tried on the store," she describes. "Then the lace is either sewn by hand or by sewing machines that are fed by the hands of expert seamstresses with lots of care." Once the lace is sewn, a comb is attached by hand. The last and final part of production involves the veil being quality controlled, packed, and shipped to the store or directly to the bride.