Bridal veils have a rich and rumored history. They are believed to date back as far as the Roman Empire, where brides were covered with bright red and yellow wedding bridal veils to protect them from evil spirits that might whisk them away before entering the safe union with their husband. The fabric was meant to completely hide the beauty from the malicious intent of bad spirits.
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Headpieces have been used greatly in outdoor and beach weddings due to their simple and elegant feel. In Eastern Orthodox weddings, a decorative crowning is placed on both the bride's and the groom's head. Then, the headpieces are blessed and exchanged three times. After this ceremonial exchange, the couple is pronounced married. Bridal headpieces and veils are also traditional in Finnish weddings. After the union ceremony, there is a dance where the bride places her headpiece or wedding veil on one of the bridesmaids. Like the Western tradition of throwing the bouquet, this Finnish practice means that the designated bridesmaid will be the next to marry.
Some say that the tradition of donning wedding bridal veils dates back to the Bible. In the story of Jacob in the Old Testament (found in the Book of Genesis), his father-in-law, Laban, tricks Jacob into marring the wrong women. Because of the heavily masked veil that was not raised until after the union was complete, Jacob married the older and homelier Leah instead of the young and beautiful Rachel. Rachel was his one true love, and the deceit resulted in Jacob eventually having both as his wives. The story also resulted in the Jewish practice where a groom lowers the veil before the ceremony and lifts the veil before the kiss. This practice is known as Bedeken.