It is fun and enriching to learn how various traditions evolved. The Victorians brought us many customs we are familiar with today. Queen Victoria wore white, and now white is the color brides wear and most associated with weddings. A traditional Celtic bouquet was ivy, thistle and heath, but Queen Victoria used fresh flowers, especially marigolds, and today our bouquets are almost always fresh flowers, too.
Before Victoria, trendsetter that she was, flowers were used differently. Dating all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman times women carried aromatic herbs and spices to ward off evil spirits. Flowers, herbs, and grains were fertility symbols, and Romans showered newlywed couples with wheat based on the belief that it would help them have children. Grain also symbolized prosperity. After all, if your grain storehouse was full, you would survive the winter. Tossing rice at the couple is directly traced to this. Dill was used in bouquets because it was thought to increase sexual desire and was even eaten by the bride and groom during the reception.
From east to west, flower arrangements have always had a place in art and ritual. Whether Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging, or nā lei, the Hawaiian garlands, the use of flowers can be quite complex.
Tossing the bouquet dates back to the 14th century, and its quite a story! It was once considered lucky to get close enough to a bride to touch her dress and people began literally tearing pieces of the dress as keepsakes and good luck charms. To deflect that, brides began tossing their flowers instead. Today the bouquet toss is popular, but like many traditions, some couples are re-thinking this. You might find it awkward to ask the unmarried women to come forward. If so, why not ask all the women to catch the bouquet – not just single women – as a sign of good luck! Or offer the bouquet to a special person you have chosen in advance, speak a bit about her, honor her, and give her the darn bouquet! Others are skipping the toss all together.
When choosing your flowers I offer this reminder: take weight into consideration. You’d be surprised how heavy the bouquet becomes after holding if for a while.
Florist Melanie Jeffers Frassinelli of Bloom By Melanie, reminds us to start with your color scheme and then think about your favorite flowers! Styles range from compact, loose, airy, formal or garden-like. Melanie says some brides are choosing to add a small symbol to their arrangement, such as an herb from their garden, or a personal symbol or keepsake honoring a family member.
Whatever you decide for your wedding, it will more than likely involve flowers, because flowers always bring color, joy, beauty and aroma to any event.
Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the gorgeous photography!