The Tradition of Bridal Bouquets

Planning a wedding is an exciting endeavor for any newly engaged couple. But the process can raise a few questions along the way, like who decided there should be a wedding cake instead of pie? Why have bridesmaids and groomsmen? And where did the tradition of carrying a bouquet come from? While we can’t answer all of these questions for you, the experts at Rose Hill Weddings are happy to share with you the history and traditions surrounding the bridal bouquet.


Wedding bouquet with white orchids on historial stone

Back in Ancient Times…

As far back as history records, brides have carried a gathering of flowers and greenery down the aisle during their wedding ceremony. In ancient times, the choice of flower or herb to be carried was very much connected to symbols of beauty and fertility. Certain types of foliage like wheat or orchids were chosen for their aphrodisiac properties in hopes that this would lead to much fertility for the couple. Ancient Greece and Rome were especially concerned with the aesthetics of all ceremonies, so choosing flowers, berries, and herbs that exhibited beauty and highlighted the bride’s beauty was highly important.


Dried flower and onions in wedding bouquet style from middle ages


…Moving Into the Middle Ages…

Centuries later, the meaning behind the bridal bouquet eventually morphed into more of a spiritual practice. Superstitions ran high in the Middle Ages and it was not uncommon for brides to carry herbs and other foliage like garlic and dried rosemary to ward off evil spirits and promote health, prosperity, and happiness for the couple. This practice went hand in hand with the belief that bridesmaids should wear the same dress as the bride to confuse evil spirits bent on destroying the happy couple’s wedding day. If they couldn’t figure out which one she was, the spirits couldn’t play tricks on the bride, could they?


Victorian style wedding bouquet with yellow and peach

The Symbolic Victorian Era

The Victorian Era gave birth to the notion of adding special meaning to flowers and their colors. Sending a loved one a purple iris indicated thoughts of royalty and a pink rose showed a sweet new admiration was blooming. So, in the age of meaningful flowers and colors, what a bride carried in her bouquet was of utmost importance to the significance of the day. Was she promoting wealth and prosperity for her and her new husband? Best to carry Lilies of the Valley or Alstroemeria. Did they hope to have a lot of children? A bouquet of orchids was appropriate. Did they want the world to know how in love they were? Her colors would definitely be red, orange, or peach. As soon as Queen Victoria carried myrtle in her bridal bouquet, a tradition began for all royal weddings, including Kate Middleton’s wedding to Prince William, to include myrtle as well.


Modern style bride bouquet with peonies

Today’s Bridal Bouquets

These days, most bridal bouquets are chosen as an accent to the wedding’s overall color and theme. For example, many rustic weddings will feature daisies, sunflowers, or a collection of wildflowers for a bridal bouquet, while a classically traditional wedding might feature a number of roses or ranunculus. A winter wedding might include holly berries and snowy twigs of evergreen, while a beach wedding can include birds of paradise and orchids.


Whatever you choose for your wedding bouquet, be sure it reflects you and your partner’s personal style and vibe. Include personal items like a favorite handkerchief, rosary, or ribbon with your flowers if they hold significance to you or your family. Or simply pick something that you like! To discuss your options, talk to the wedding professionals at Rose Hill Weddings about which flowers make the best bouquets and will look amazing on your special day.