International Flower Delivery Blog

Weddings and flowers — a combination from time immemorial? Apparently not

Nowadays, a wedding bouquet feels like a staple of any marriage, but has it always been this way? Today, let us discuss when and where the romantic accessory first appeared, some of its current styles, and why brides throw it at the wedding ceremony.

The origins of the wedding bouquet

The wedding bouquet and how it came to be

Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower.
John Harrigan

The custom of procuring a bouquet especially for a wedding is much more ancient than we might think; it is believed to have appeared many centuries ago, most likely even before the Common Era. Naturally, back then, the purpose that it served was more utilitarian than esthetic: people believed that plants had magical properties, which is why they were used to decorate the bride for the wedding ritual.

In the cultures of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Celts, the newlywed would put a garland made of fragrant herbs around her neck to protect herself from all wickedness. In Medieval Europe, the bride wore bundles of onion and garlic all day, hoping that their sharp scent would drive evil spirits away. In Greece, in addition to the necklace, a girl who was about to marry would tie wild ivy, which symbolized eternal love, instead of ribbons in her hair. Spanish weddings featured twigs of citrus trees, as they spelled a long and happy life for the young couple.

An actual bouquet in the hands of the bride, however, only appeared in the 19th century in England. And for the first time, it happened at the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, where the bride held freshly-cut flowers in her hand, with calendula being the main species. By doing this, Queen Victoria set a trend that was immediately picked up by the rest of Europe.

Since then, the bouquet has become an important attribute of the image of any bride, and the wedding flowers themselves have progressively become endowed with a symbolic meaning, turning into bearers of a particular message. Each flower symbolized a separate notion: love, passion, tenderness, devotion, timidity, or affection.

The many flowers in a bridal bouquet

The more conservative of the British people observe these traditions of the wedding bouquet even today; accordingly, common brides walk up the aisle with a bouquet of wild pansies or forget-me-nots, while aristocratic brides, following suit of Victoria herself, would add a twig of myrtle to their arrangement.

“Let me throw something at you real quick”: the origins of tossing the bouquet

The custom of throwing something at one’s friends over the shoulder was first referenced in records from the medieval times. In those days, however, the tradition had a different meaning.

Every decoration element of a typical wedding was, first and foremost, a good luck charm. Specifically, a girl who managed to grab a piece of decoration or a ribbon that was hanging from a bride’s outfit could count on finding her one true love, guaranteed; when and how, though, was not prophesized as clearly.

Then again, it did not deter the girls in the least: they’d go at it so enthusiastically that by the end of the wedding day, not only were the guests pretty wasted, but the dress itself was in shreds. Conversely, Frenchwomen were always practical, which is why they preferred to sew flowers to the dress using a needle and thread, so they could be pulled out easily with the dress remaining intact.

In several European countries, the happy newlyweds would throw jewelry at unmarried girls, such as beads, pendants, or even necklaces; it was this custom that, after some time, transformed into the tradition of throwing a bouquet, because the aforementioned economical Frenchwomen realized quickly that throwing away expensive stuff would render them bankrupt in short order, which is why they settled on tossing flowers.

The iconic image of tossing them specifically over the shoulder is mainly due to American romantic movies, with the beautiful (if somewhat clichéd by today’s standards) scenes of a happy newlywed turning her back on a crowd of her bridesmaids and throwing them a flower arrangement.

Bride tossing a wedding bouquet

The everchanging floral fashion in a wedding bouquet

Over its history, the traditional bridal bouquet has, of course, changed its appearance many times. In the era when classicism was king, porte-bouquets were in; those are hand-held flowers wrapped in a kind of funnel made either of paper or cardboard, or even porcelain or thin silver, which was then covered with silk or satin cloth, guipure, or other kinds of lace. Any bouquet looked like a veritable work of art in this kind of makeshift “vase”; thankfully, in those days, there was no tradition of throwing it over the shoulder!

In early 20th century, narrow and stretched out floral arrangements, made of long-stem flowers, came into vogue, with an elegant bow being their main decoration.

Nowadays, the biedermeier style has become one of the most popular images for a wedding posy. First appearing in Germany in the 19th century, this style creates a composition that resembles a ball, with flower stems fastened tightly so that it is convenient for the bride to hold them in her hands. The arrangement is also decorated with lace or ribbons that should match the wedding dress in both color and texture.

In case you were interested in this topic because you have friends or family overseas and they are planning a wedding, we can help you ensure their celebration is as magnificent as they are!

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