The Tradition of Wedding Bouquets

Planning a wedding can be as exciting as getting engaged, from anticipating the day itself to picturing married life together. But some aspects of wedding planning can be confusing or downright daunting. Some wedding traditions, like carrying a bridal bouquet, can seem antiquated and therefore nonsensical. However, the experts at Walter Knoll Weddings are here to explain the history of this particular wedding day tradition in hopes that it will help you make the best decisions for your special day. So, where do wedding bouquets come from, anyway?


White orchid wedding bouquet

Back in Ancient Times…

Dating all the way back to ancient times, brides began carrying flowers during their wedding ceremony to enhance the beauty of the scene. The Ancient Grecians and Romans were especially interested in aesthetics when it came to public ceremonies, so carrying something beautiful like flowers made sense. Brides also chose specific flowers and greenery that were known aphrodisiacs, like orchids and wheat, to promote fertility and ensure a large family for the prosperous couple. The tradition of symbolism carried on for centuries, but sometimes for other reasons.


Dried roses and lavender for middle ages wedding bouquet


…Moving Into the Middle Ages….

Centuries later, the contents of the bridal bouquet took on a slightly different meaning. By the Middle Ages, brides and grooms everywhere felt the need to ward off evil spirits, protect their upcoming marriage from disaster, and generally surround themselves with good juju on their wedding day. Brides began to fill their wedding bouquets with dried potpourri-style fragrant flowers like lavender and roses, as well as garlic, which were then believed to protect those carrying them from evil and bring good luck and blessing to the couple. This was also the time when bridesmaids would dress like the bride to confuse evil spirits bent on wreaking havoc on the wedding day. If the spirits couldn’t tell who the bride was, they couldn’t cause her harm. It was also important during this time that brides and grooms smell their best. Just in case a bath didn’t do the trick, brides relied on the fragrant roses, peonies, or hyacinths in their bouquet to add lovely, scented covering to other natural odors.


Peach wedding flowers

The Symbolic Victorian Era

The Victorian Era gave way to more emphasis on beauty, color, and fragrance as well as the special meanings behind tokens such as flowers. Certain flowers and colors symbolized certain messages, like yellow daffodils for friendship or white lilies for purity. In wedding bouquets, presenting a special message was even more important, so the couple might choose purple for royal connections, red or orange to symbolize their passion for one another, or pink and white to mark the innocence of their love. After Queen Victoria carried myrtles in her wedding bouquet, every royal bride, including Kate Middleton, has included them in her bridal bouquet as well.


Modern day wedding bouquet

Today’s Bridal Bouquets

These days, brides tend to choose their wedding bouquet as an accent piece to the overall theme of their wedding. Color choice and flower variety go hand in hand with the wedding aesthetics, such as daisies or sunflowers for a rustic theme or rich, lush roses and ranunculus for a more classic style. Winter weddings might feature holly berries and boughs of evergreen, while a beach wedding might include ti leaves and orchids.


While history shows plenty of traditions to follow when it comes to bridal bouquets, today’s bride has as many options as there are floral varieties to choose from. If your family (or family-to-be) has a particular bouquet tradition, it might be important to stick with the family protocol. You also might want to carry a special piece of jewelry, fabric, or other charms that holds special meaning to you with your bouquet as you walk down the aisle. But at the end of the day, the wedding bouquet you choose is completely up to you. Let it be a signature of your style and personality as a couple, and let it reflect who you are as you come together as one. For more ideas about your perfect bridal bouquet, talk to the wedding professionals at Walter Knoll Weddings. We’re happy to give advice, show you options, and help you choose the perfect design for you.