There are various schools of thought on the origins of the veil but the word means to mask or cover.
Some believe that the tradition of wearing a veil comes from the time when men bargained for a lady’s hand with her father. It was only after the ceremony had been completed that the veil was allowed to be lifted up just in case the groom didn’t like what he saw and decided to forgo the marriage after all.
In ancient Rome people believed that a bride would attract evil spirits so in order to confuse them her face, and sometimes her whole body, would be covered with a brightly coloured veil.
In medieval times it was considered a symbol of modesty, purity and chastity and a veil was worn to protect her from an alleged “evil eye”. It was also considered to convey her willingness to submit to and obey her new husband.
And there are others who believe that it might simply have been a way of covering up dirty hair as people didn’t wash their hair very often and it could look very untidy.
In days gone by if you were marrying for a second time you were not supposed to wear a veil, let alone a white one but nowadays you can wear a veil however many times you have been married!
The wearing of a lace veil allegedly started in America in 1799 when the step granddaughter of George Washington married his nephew. She chose to wear a lace veil because her fiance had once seen her through a lace curtain and told her how beautiful she had looked.
Nowadays they do not have to be worn covering the face and they are worn simply to highlight the bride’s face and add to the elegance of the dress.
It wasn’t until the wearing of a white wedding dress became fashionable, after the wedding of Queen Victoria to her beloved Prince Albert in 1840, that the veil became white too.
There are 7 different lengths of traditional veil going from Shoulder Veil (19”) to the very long Cathedral Veil (108”). The Cathedral and the Chapel Veils were so named as it used to be that you could only wear these two in a Cathedral or Chapel.
Sources: http://www.veilubridal.com ; Jennie DellaMonica, Yahoo! Contributor Network, Mar 2, 2007 ; http://telegram.qrsite.com