Planning a wedding is exciting, time-consuming and sometimes stressful. Within a year or so, you and your partner must choose everything from your first dance song to the style of your table decorations.
All eyes will be on you in your wedding dress as you walk down the aisle. A stunning bouquet can complement your dress, tie in with your décor, match the season of your wedding and provide a pop of color to make you feel and look absolutely gorgeous. But why do brides even carry bouquets at all? And is this an essential wedding tradition, or can you skip it altogether?
Ancient Greece and Rome
The very first bridal bouquets were composed of garlands or flowers. They symbolized the bride’s fertility, kicked off a union built on trust and fidelity and celebrated the couple’s new life together. Although they may not have looked identical to our bouquets today, there is certainly some overlap in the meaning they held.
Bouquets in the Middle Ages took an interesting turn. Instead of containing flowers with bright colors and pleasant aromas, they were packed with pungent herbs. Garlic, spices and dill were classic choices meant to fend off evil spirits and bad luck that might plague the bride and wedding guests.
There’s a myth out there that brides in the Middle Ages carried bouquets to mask body odor due to infrequent bathing. However, it is highly unlikely that people of this time only bathed once a year, as is sometimes supposed.
Bouquets of all types in the Victorian Era were carefully selected to send secret messages between partners. Floriography, the association of certain flowers and plants with symbolic meanings, became popular during this era, as did a general interest in botany. The practice was so ingrained in high society that entire books were dedicated to explaining the meanings of the most obscure blooms.
The Victorian Era also spurred the creation of a very specific bridal flower arrangement – the royal wedding bouquet. When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, she incorporated a sprig of myrtle from her grandmother-in-law into her bouquet and decorated her hair and dress with orange blossoms.
Today’s Bridal Bouquets
Nowadays, bridal bouquets are whatever you want them to be.
The bouquet speaks to the bride’s personality.
Some brides pick a bouquet that matches their favorite colors and makes them feel beautiful, whereas others carefully choose the flowers that best represent their hopes and wishes for the future.
As for the tradition of Tossing the bouquet, there are a number of stories about how this bit of fun started. Many years ago, in some cultures, it was believed that taking something from the bride would bring you good luck. Today, the bride’s bouquet is still seen as a token of good luck but we have become a bit more civilised. We no longer attack the bride but rather allow her to toss it over her shoulder and all the single ladies battle it out. It is said that the woman who catches the bouquet will marry next.