From the earliest times, brides have carried bunches of fragrant herbs and flowers or adorned their hair with flowers on their wedding day. Bouquets were first used in medieval times and consisted of herbs and roots to ward off evil spirits. Later, brides added fragrant flowers to their bouquet to help disguise body odors, since soap and deodorant were non-existent.
For centuries, flowers have represented a variety of meanings and emotions. For example, Orange Blossoms have always been associated with weddings because they signify purity and chastity. Orange Blossoms are also thought to be very significant because they bear both the flower and the fruit at the same time, a trait highly unusual in most plants. This trait also symbolizes great abundance and fertility. It was believed that by carrying blossoms from the orange tree in the wedding bouquet, the blessings of all things beautiful and nurturing would be passed along to the new marriage. Other significant and popular wedding flowers include roses, which symbolize love, carnations, which represent fidelity and love, red chrysanthemums, “I love you”; ivy is symbolic of never-ending love and violets, which stand for faithfulness. Some flowers to be avoided include peonies, which represent shame, yellow hyacinth, which symbolizes jealousy, hydrangea, which symbolizes heartlessness and any combination of red and white flowers should be avoided by the superstitious because they symbolize blood and bandages. However, people from different regions may attach different meanings to the same flower. For example, lilies symbolize virtue to some but are thought unlucky by others because of their association with death. Marigolds symbolize cruelty in love and grief, but in India, they represent luck.
The tradition of tossing the bouquet holds that the one who catches the bouquet will be the next one present to marry.
The groom’s flower, which is worn on his lapel, should be one that matches a flower in the bride’s bouquet. This tradition dates back to medieval times when knights would perform in tournaments and wear something in his lady’s colors to show his affection, often a scarf, feather or flower.