As explained in Taamei Haminhagim #950, the minhag of bedeken comes from the Pasuk in Chayei Sarah:

"And she said to the servant, ‘Who is that man walking in the field towards us?’ And the servant said, ‘He is my master.’ And she took the veil and covered herself.”

If the basis for the minhag of bedeken comes from the verse, "And she took the veil and covered herself", then why is the Chasan the one who veils the Kallah? Why doesn't the Kallah veil herself? Wouldn't the minhag follow the Pasuk better if this were the case?

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    I took the liberty of adding a source to your statement regarding the source of the custom. In general a source not only strengthens your question, but also gives people who might be interested in researching your question a start. In this case, it also provides an answer because the bottom of the page brings sources that show there are opinions that covering the bride performs the act of chuppah, and that can only the groom (or his emissary) can do this action. -more about the different opinions here: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/476806/jewish/… – Menachem Nov 26 '19 at 23:56
  • I believe the concept of a veil comes from Rivka. The chosson doing it is to fulfill the opinions that this constitutes chuppah/nisuin – robev Nov 27 '19 at 3:37

I've heard that the custom originated as a "preventive measure" for the situation where Ya'akov ended up marrying Leah when he was supposed to have married Rachel. Refer to Rash"i in Breishit 29:25. Ya'akov knew that Lavan was a swindler so he told Rachel to use certain signs so that he could identify her at the wedding. However, when she saw that her father was presenting Leah to Ya'akov, she didn't want her sister to be embarrassed if Ya'akov discovered that she didn't know the signals, so Rachel quickly told them to Leah.

So, now, when the chattan approaches the kalla, he verifies that the kallah is actually the correct person. It is possible that the Yiddish באַדעקן is related to the Hebrew bodek which means "to check" or "verify".

I will add a better source a bit later.

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  • Maybe he should watch her put the veil on? – robev Nov 27 '19 at 3:36
  • @robev he covers her with the veil. That makes the most sense to me. – DanF Nov 27 '19 at 3:41
  • That's because that's what you're used to. But coming from the verse and your answer, I see no reason for him to do so – robev Nov 27 '19 at 4:25
  • The verb באַדעקן is made up of the verb דעקן (cover) with the (unseperable) prefex -באַ. It is a Germanic word, cognate to the German "bedecken" and English "bethatch." – Argon Dec 10 '19 at 2:33

Not everyone agrees that it must be performed by the Chosson. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch writes that it should be the most prominent people of town who spread the veil. Both customs are cited in Dagul Mervava (YD 342)

המנהג במדינות אלו בנשואי בתולה שחשובי העיר פורסין סודר על ראש הכלה

According to the reason cited in the question, there would be no reason for the Chosson himself to do it. However, other reasons are cited in the Poskim for Bedeken, which would require specifically the Chosson. One reason is based on position in the Rishonim (See Tosfos Rid Kiddushin 3, and Tosfos Yuma 13b - based on Kiddushin 18b) that the definition of Chuppa is 'פורס טליתו עליה'. Some Poskim (see Drisha §65) understand that this is the purpose of 'Bedeken'. Accordingly, it must be the Chosson who does so. [Whether this is consistent with our custom to perform Bedeken before the Kiddushin - insinuating a Nissuin prior to Kiddushin, see Mishne Lemelech Hil. Ishs Chapter 10]

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