After the short pre-chupah receptions hosted by the bride and groom, the badeken ceremony commences. A procession headed by the groom goes to the bridal reception room, where the groom covers the bride's face with a veil.
The groom is escorted to the badeken by his father and father-in-law (or whomever will be escorting him to the chupah). By Chabad weddings, the band plays the hauntingly solemn and holy melody composed by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi until the conclusion of the ceremony.
After the groom veils the bride, the fathers and grandfathers of the bride and groom approach the bride and bless her. The groom's entourage then retreats from the room. The bride and groom proceed with their chupah preparations and everyone else continues to the site of the chupah.
The bride's face remains veiled for the duration of the chupah ceremony, affording her a bit of privacy at this holy time.
The fathers and grandfathers of the bride and groom approach the bride and bless herThe custom of covering the bride's face with a veil originated with our Matriarch Rebecca, who covered her face with a handkerchief when meeting her groom, Isaac.
Technically speaking, there are several possible definitions for the legal term of "chupah," According to certain opinions, "chupah" is accomplished through the groom "spreading his cloth" over the bride -- which is accomplished by the badeken ceremony.
The veil emphasizes that the groom is not solely interested in the bride's external beauty, which fades with time; but rather in her inner beauty which she will never lose.
When the groom veils his bride, he is saying, "I will love, cherish and respect not only the 'you' which is revealed to me, but also those elements of your personality that are hidden from me. As I am bonding with you in marriage, I am committed to creating a space within me for the totality of your being -- for all of you, all of the time."
The veiling also symbolizes the bride's commitment from this moment on to reserve her beauty for her husband's eyes.