Brides have worn veils for centuries. In ancient cultures, it was considered bad luck for any male outside of the bride’s family to see her before the wedding. She often wore a thick and dark-colored veil for several days preceding the ceremony in order to prevent such an occurrence. On the day of the wedding, she continued to wear a veil (now sheer or white) and surrounded herself with attendants in hopes of fooling evil spirits that might try to harm her and foil the fortunes of her family.
The unveiling took place when the bride was finally presented to her groom. The veil then symbolized authority over the bride’s will and was not lifted until after her father had given her away. If the father lifted the wedding veil, it was to present her beauty to the gathered company and seek their approval (especially that of the groom!). If the husband-to-be lifted the veil, it showed that he was accepting authority and responsibility for his wife.
Modern brides still wear sheer veils; now become symbols of chastity and love. The unveiling still occurs after the bride is given away, but the bride usually raises her own veil. This shows that she maintains control over her own identity, but willingly joins herself to her husband. If the groom raises the veil, it is typically to show respect for and a willingness to serve his wife.