All about wedding flowers
Today I wanted to share with you a rather sweet-smelling post as I show you some of the beautiful flowers I’ve photographed at the weddings I have captured. Get ready with your Pinterest button, it’s going to be a beauty as I share all about how to choose your wedding flowers.
But first, why do we have the tradition of holding a bouquet of flowers as a bride or bridesmaid? Why do grooms have a flower in their buttonhole? And more specifically, why do we have particular flowers for these occasions?
Why are flowers part of a wedding day?
In the Wedding Traditions series, I wrote about the tradition of protecting the soon-to-be-weds by driving evil spirits away, and this too was the origin of the bridal bouquet. Before flowers were the tradition for a wedding bouquet, brides carried strong-smelling garlic, herbs and grains which were then used to make wreaths and garlands worn by the bride and groom to protect them. It is thought that the tradition of carrying flowers or herbs originated due to the great plague when people thought that the disease was spread by a cloud of poisonous gas or miasma. They believed that by carrying sweet-smelling flowers this would overpower the germs in the miasma and protect themselves from any disease. Interestingly, the survivors of this time recognised the comfort the strong-smelling herbs had brought them, and so they instilled the tradition of a bride carrying a bouquet and the groom wearing a flower in his buttonhole.
The Ancient Greeks used flowers and plants to make a crown for the bride to wear, so the flower crowns that are so popular with brides today have ancient traditions!
What do you think the bridesmaids traditionally made back in the day?
The bridesmaids would traditionally make the floral decorations including flower garlands, wedding bouquet and the buttonholes. Often, the bridesmaids would create flower arrangements for each wedding guest to wear as a symbol of thanks. Time to add that to your bridesmaid’s duties before the big day! If you do love all things floral and creating flower displays there are a number of florists who run courses to learn to do flower arranging, maybe an idea for something to do with your hens?
The flower girl used to carry sheaves of wheat symbolising fertility, but the tradition changed into leading the procession scattering petals to wish the bride a happy and successful life.
There used to be strong symbolism attached to the flowers and herbs used in wedding flowers. Ancient Greek brides carried ivy to represent their unending love, Celtic bouquets included ivy to represent fidelity, whereas it was thought that sage (symbolising wisdom) and dill (the herb of lust!) influenced what the bride would become. This tradition like many others morphed over time and the wedding bouquets eventually became flowers, as a sign of fertility and love. Many flowers still carry strong symbolism but the meanings aren’t really followed nowadays. Lilies, for example, symbolise purity, whereas the Victorians popularised the wedding rose, representing true love.
Now of course fresh flowers aren’t the only option available to brides. There are paper flowers or fabric flowers, or a now a brooch bouquet! These are great options if you like the idea of something that you can keep at the end of the day. Or if you have bridesmaids with very bad hayfever (as was the case at a recent wedding I photographed!)
Tossing the Wedding Bouquet
Just as the Victorians made the white wedding dress and the big wedding cake the ‘norm’, it was during Victorian times that tossing the bouquet became popular. The bride’s intention was to keep the catcher of the bouquet safe just as it had kept her safe. The bouquet would also bring her luck, which came to mean in due course that the single woman who caught the bouquet would be the one to marry next.
Popular flowers to use and their meanings
Many of the traditional flower meanings aren’t really followed anymore. I find it fascinating that whole messages used to be sent from one person to another purely by the kind of flowers that were sent. This is a very subtle and pretty way to let someone know how you feel or what you think.
Baby’s Breath or gypsophila is a flower I see featured a lot at weddings because it looks so beautiful. It symbolises innocence and whilst it has no smell, it prettily completes bouquets, church flowers, corsages and wedding centrepieces, plus it’s available all year round!
Hydrangeas symbolise understanding and look great in bouquets and flower arrangements for your wedding. They’re available in spring and autumn, but they can be expensive.
Tulips are a favourite flower of mine. They mean love and passion and make for a really stunning and individual flower in a bouquet or arrangement. They can be a little expensive depending on the time of year but do come in some amazing colour.
Peonies mean bashfulness. They are a stunning flower and one that really works well for wedding bouquets. They are lightly fragranced and come in some truly beautiful colours, however, they can be expensive.
Roses are the classic flower of romance and weddings. Roses in themselves have multiple meanings depending on the colour you choose, but they represent love, joy and beauty. They can smell amazing if you get the right type, they are available year-round and in numerous colours. They make the basis of many bouquets and arrangements.
Stock symbolises lasting beauty. They are a great filler for arrangements, are available most of the year and are relatively inexpensive.
Anemones mean expectation. They are striking flowers that aren’t too expensive if you get them in season, which is generally Autumn or Spring.
Daffodils symbolise regard and are a the epitome of Spring. They work really well in pots as live plants and are inexpensive during the Spring season.
Lilies stand for majesty, truth and honour. In terms of meaning a great one for weddings. They are best in Summer and make for sweet-smelling floral arrangements.
Sweet peas are such pretty flowers. They smell amazing and really capture that summer feeling. They symbolise pleasure.
Another favourite flowers of mine are Ranunculus. I love the complexity of the flower, it’s almost graphic in its detail, yet also very beautiful. They mean radiant with charm. A good choice for a wedding day!
Anemones symbolise anticipation (although also have a darker meaning of fading hope, but less said about that the better I think!). They are a really pretty flower and make for a lovely addition to a bouquet.
What do your wedding flowers mean? Have you thought about it or are you choosing your flowers for their look and colour? There are some flower meanings that aren’t so positive. These include the Foxglove which means insincerity, the white poppy which means sleep, the yellow rose which means jealousy and the larkspur which means infidelity. However, you can always ignore these traditional meanings and put your own meanings to the flowers you choose. After all, when they are a part of your wedding they will always have a happy and lovely place in your heart.
Choosing your wedding flowers and floral trends
To be able to pass on some advice about the flowers to choose or what trends are appearing in the world of flowers I thought it best to ask some experts. Here are some thoughts, ideas and words of wisdom from the people in the know.
Sophie King – The Bloomery
In the last couple of years, there has been a style shift in wedding flowers. Gone are the solid rounded hand-tied bouquets and over-structured neat table arrangements and Hello to the more organic, free-forming bouquets and garden-inspired table centres. It’s a style we at The Bloomery love and have embraced full-heartedly, it reflects our rather bohemian romantic ways and love for texture. We’re not saying ‘No’ to traditional table centres like candelabras and hurricane vase just that the way you arrange the flowers can make a BIG difference. I feel that the best way to get this ‘organic’ look is to use the natural shapes and bends of each individual flower by doing this your creating movement and depth in your wedding day arrangements.
Most wedding florist would agree that it’s not all about the flowers, the containers and vessels you choose to display them in can really add a ‘wow’ factor to the overall look. Upcycled, vintage container are still popular as are brass and copper, which give a more modern twist.
We’re also seeing trends in floral choices. Big blousy flowers like old English roses and peonies are still top of the list for most of our brides, as well as ‘just picked’ style flowers such as anemones, sweet peas and ranunculus.
With such great online resources like Pinterest, We are finding many of our brides are more adventurous in terms of colour schemes. Dusky pinks and muted tones are still a favourite for 2015/16. But there is most certainly a rise in the bright and bold blooms.
I would recommend using seasonal flowers as this will give you more florals for your money. In terms of colours if your not that adventurous stick to one colour palette and just use tones of it, this works so well and creates interest. Book your florist early if your planning to get married on a weekend or bank holiday and choose a florist whose style you love.
My top tip to engaged couples who are unsure where, to begin with choosing their flowers would be to let the venue help shape your choices. For example, where is it that you are getting married; Industrial warehouse? Stately home? Barn? If it’s the latter then you may want your flowers to mirror the style of the venue by opting to have more rustic/natural style arrangements perhaps centrepieces with flowers in enamel jugs, wooden crates or an eclectic mix of bottles & vessels placed on tree slice logs. If your wedding venue is a stately home then you may want your flowers to be grand to reflect the grandness of the venue, for example, large urn arrangements could be used as main entrance displays & statement tall centrepieces. Don’t threat too much over specific flower choices, give your brief & colour scheme to your florist & trust them to work their magic.
One of the big trends emerging this year in terms of flowers is a love of all things botanical. Think foliage heavy arrangements & bouquets in a natural style mixing a variety of different foliages to create interesting textures, ferns will also play a big part in this trend too. Another idea which is set to grow increasing popularity during this year & next are hanging flowers/installations, hanging flower canopies & foliage chandeliers used as wedding décor instead of bunting & paper lanterns. Hanging flower designs will work particularly well in tipi & marquee style venues, you could even have a hanging table plan & incorporate foliage & flowers into the design by having a garland attached to your table plan. I also think Metallics will be big again this year, in particular copper!
Liz Inigo-Jones – Blue Sky Flowers
Go with the flow or swim upstream …? This is often the dilemma that brides face when looking at ‘styling’ their weddings. Do they look at all the magazines and decide to go with what is on-trend and follow hundreds or thousands of other brides that year in having a particular look. Don’t get me wrong… I have absolutely nothing against this route, since what looks the same on paper always ends up being different on the day as each bride’s personality cannot help but come through
Or do you scour the internet and beyond looking for that different look, a new angle, something unique with one eye on the possibility of getting the wedding ‘blogged’?
I think the most important place to start is with what YOU the bride (and your groom, of course) ultimately like and want to have on your special day. If the world says blush and you like orange, then go for it. You will look back at your wedding photos for years to come and do not want to be thinking, if only …
So once you have your ideal colour or theme, find a florist whose work you like, no love, and talk to them about your hopes and desires for your perfect wedding day and trust them to come up with a design for you. Be honest with them about what you like and don’t like and your budget. Don’t be afraid of telling them what you have or want to spend otherwise time will be wasted going back and forth trying to make their ideas fit your wallet. They should be able to give you sample costs to start with so you know how much to put aside for what you want
Then just sit back and wait for the months to pass and then… enjoy the best day of your life!
So…what about your wedding flowers?
I would love to know your thoughts and plans for the big day. Hope this has inspired and given some fun facts as well as some useful information. If you enjoyed this, do check out a few of my favourite floral weddings here and here.
Huge thanks to Liz, Joanne and Sophie for giving their expert advise. I would highly recommend all of them as they really are wonderful at what they do.
Do have a read of my planning guide here full of more top tips on how to plan your wedding.
Have a lovely day and thanks for popping by
P.S. If you liked what you saw from the photos, here are the details of some of the other florists who have been featured in this post.