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Bridal flowers have been an essential part of the wedding since ancient times. Different flowers stood for different meanings: lilies for virtue, tulips for love, irises for warmth and affection and the roses’ variety of colors for a range of emotions and values. In general, however, wedding flowers are used because of the belief that they help protect the bride from evil spirits that intend to snatch her from her groom, as well as bring the couple good fortune. Contemporary brides choose their bouquets according to the wedding’s color and theme and its significance in their relationship.
Bridal Flowers: Traditions
In some countries like Sweden and Denmark, tiny pouches of strong-smelling herbs like chives, rosemary and garlic are sewn into grooms’ clothes for good luck. Likewise, Thai mothers drape flower garlands (puang malai) on the bride and groom’s shoulders to wish them a life of prosperity and good fortune.
Since ancient times, the bride was made to carry flowers because of the belief that strong smelling herbs and spices would drive away evil spirits, ill fortune and sickness. Roman brides of long ago held bouquets of herbs to scare and ward off evil spirits. Today, in India, the groom’s brother showers the couple with flower petals, believing it will protect them from harm.
Early Greek bridal bouquets contained sprigs of ivy to symbolize fidelity and unending love. One popular Victorian tradition entailed the bride’s planting of the ivy from her bouquet after the wedding, so she could pass on its offshoots to her daughters and granddaughters for their own bridal bouquets. It was also the Victorians who sent different flowers to their sweethearts to convey different meanings and were the ones to popularize the use of roses in bridal bouquets because it is the flower that meant true love.
Roman brides carried bunches of herbs beneath their veils to signify fertility. The bride and groom also wore floral wreaths on their heads to represent new life and hope for fertility. The Spaniards, on the other hand, chose orange blossoms as wedding flowers to symbolize happiness and fruitfulness, since the orange tree bears flowers and fruits simultaneously.
One practice that has traversed from the Victorian ages to contemporary times is the bouquet toss. Originally, the bride would toss the bouquet to her friend upon leaving the festivities, to pass on the protection (from evil spirits) to that friend and to wish her luck. Through time, the bouquet toss came to denote that the single woman who catches it will be the next one to marry.