Wedding veils can be fashioned from a wide variety of materials - lace, chiffon, organza, nylon net and tulle to name a few. Traditionally, wedding veils are sheer and diaphanous, wispy and light, but heavier lace versions and materials drenched in pearls or beadwork have also been used successfully.
My personal favorite wedding veil material is silk tulle. So regal and timeless, silk tulle was the only choice for the beautiful Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. Her wedding veil was graced with one thousand pearls. Princess Diana's silk tulle veil was embroidered with ten thousand mother-of-pearl sequins.
Today, silk tulle is considered the ultimate material for modern bridal veiling. Prices for silk illusion may range from about $80 to $100 dollars per yard, but it drapes gorgeously and is sheer splendor!
Vintage wedding veils are also in vogue these days, many of which can be found in this fine, gossamer material. Wedding veils from the early 20th Century are prized for their silk tulle construction.
Sophisticated Edwardian brides considered silk tulle to be the height of fashion. It was rumored that a silk tulle veil took months to make, in many ways true; "sericulture" or the cultivation of silk is a long process.
(1) Early in the process - the silk moth lays its eggs on specially prepared paper; after the tiny silkworms are hatched, they are fed on fresh mulberry leaves.
(2) Spinning - the mature silkworm spins its silk filaments into a cocoon. These cocoons are then crushed to find the outside ends of the filaments - then several filaments are reeled together to make a skein of yarn.
(3) Weaving - approximately four hair-thin threads are used in the silk bridal veiling process - they are woven together in a distinct oval pattern with six pyramid points (compared to nylon netting, in which a nylon thread appears as diamond-shaped without pyramid stars).
(4) Extraction of sericin (or gum) - sericin is a natural component of raw silk. Typically, it's not removed from the silk till after the net has been woven as it serves as warp sizing, protecting delicate yarns from mechanical injury. Sericin also enables the thread to be used without "twist", acting as a sizing and giving the veiling stiffness.
By the end of World War I, silk veiling was frequently embellished with silk floss chain-stitching (also known as "tambour stitch" and point de chainette) into delicate designs. By the mid 1920's, silk tulle wedding veils had become the bridal standard.
If you want to march down the aisle like a true princess at your very own fairy tale wedding, I highly recommend silk tulle as the wedding veil fabric of choice!
Things to consider:
Silk veiling will go limp if exposed to slight mist or a rain shower, so it's mostly suitable for indoor wedding ceremonies. If you do decide on an outdoor ceremony, you can settle on a delicate nylon tulle which has the sheer appearance of silk tulle - however much of the ivory nylon tulle sold has a yellow cast unlike silk varieties.
Glass or other heavy beadwork cannot easily be supported on silk tulle veiling unless it's been heavily starched or combined with several layers for durability and then attended to by your bridesmaids or maid of honor. You may wish to keep this in mind when considering the overall design of your bridal veil.