tradition of the bride wearing a white veil has many possible origins. It is
thought to predate the wedding dress by centuries. One explanation is that it is
a relic of the days when a groom would throw a blanket over the head of the
woman of his choice and carry her away. In some cultures, the veil is worn to
protect the bride from evil spirits that may be nearby.
symbolized possession in many cultures, with the groom lifting it to signify his
acceptance of her. Also, a flowing white veil is traditionally a sign of
virginity, taken from ancient times when brides wore long hair down their backs
to symbolize wholesomeness.
wedding veil traditions, especially in the West, have more religious origins. In
ancient Judaism for example, unveiling during the ceremony symbolizes that the
bride gives herself to the groom. In the story of Jacob in the
Jacob is tricked into marrying Leah, the older sister, rather than Rachel, his
one true love. The bride's heavy veil was not raised until after
the union was complete. This story is one of the reasons for a sheer,
see-through veil. Though her face is covered, the groom will be reassured that
he is marrying the bride of his choice.
Wedding attire mimicked current fashion until the mid-1900s, with veils
coming and going (at times in history veils were worn by ladies for privacy or
to protect their faces from dirty air).