Wedding bouquet: history, traditions and signs

Wedding bouquet: history, traditions and signs

A wedding bouquet is an important attribute of a wedding, which is much older than it might seem at first glance. It is believed that the custom, which tells the bride to hold a bunch of flowers in her hands, appeared many centuries ago, before our era. But then the plants in the decoration of the bride were of a more utilitarian nature: people believed in the magical properties of plants and used them in wedding rituals. For example, among the ancient Greeks, Romans and Celts, the newlywed had to wear a necklace of fragrant herbs around her neck to protect herself from any evil spirits. In Medieval Europe, the bride was ordered to wear garlic and onion bunches all day long. The strong smells of spices were designed to drive away evil spirits from the defenseless bride. In Greece, in addition to a necklace for a girl who was about to get married, wild ivy was woven into her hair instead of ribbons – it symbolized eternal love.

But it was the bouquet in the hands of the bride that appeared only in the 19th century in England. At the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, for the first time, the bride had fresh flowers in her hands (among which marigolds predominated). As they would say now, Victoria set a trend that was immediately picked up by the whole of Europe. 

Since then, the bouquet has become an important attribute of the image of any bride, and the flowers themselves for the wedding bouquet began to be endowed with symbolic meaning. They became more and more messages. Each flower symbolized something different: love, passion, tenderness, devotion, shyness or affection. Conservative Englishmen still observe wedding bouquet traditions. Today, brides of simple origin go to the altar with a bunch of pansies or forget-me-nots, but if the girl is a representative of the aristocracy, then she is supposed to add a myrtle twig to the forget-me-nots (according to Victoria’s will). 

Why does a bride throw a bouquet at her friends?

The custom of throwing something over the shoulder to friends is mentioned in medieval chronicles. However, in those days, the meaning of this tradition was different from the meaning that is given to it today. Any element of wedding decoration was simply considered a talisman that brings happiness. For example, a girl who grabbed a piece of jewelry or a ribbon from the bride’s outfit could safely count on great mutual love (but the custom was silent about the timing of the fulfillment of this prophecy). For the fair sex, such a blurry time frame did not interfere – in the old days, at the end of the holiday, when the guests were already pretty tipsy, the bride’s dress was literally torn to pieces. By the way, French women, who have always been practical, preferred to sew flowers to the dress on a living thread – so they could be pulled out without much difficulty, and the dress remained intact. After some time, this custom transformed into the tradition of throwing a bouquet. In some European countries, happy newlyweds threw jewelry to unmarried girls – beads, pendants or even necklaces, but the same thrifty French women quickly realized that it would not take long to go broke (and settled on bouquets).

As for our country, here the custom of throwing a bouquet behind the back arose mainly due to American romantic films. Agree, the scene in which a happy newlywed, turning her back to the crowd of girlfriends, randomly throws a bouquet in their direction, looks incredibly beautiful.

Floral fashion in the bridal bouquet

Of course, over the entire history of its existence, a traditional wedding bouquet has changed its appearance many times. In the era of classicism, hand-made port-bouquets were in fashion. Flowers were inserted into a paper or cardboard funnel covered with silk or satin fabric, guipure or lace. Sometimes a funnel for a bouquet was even made of porcelain or thin silver. In such a “vase” the bouquet looked like a real work of art. Fortunately, in those days, the bouquet was not thrown behind the bride’s back. At the beginning of the 20th century, strict long bouquets came into fashion. They were made up of flowers with long stems. The main decoration of such a bouquet was an elegant bow.

Nowadays, the most popular type of wedding bouquet is Biedermeier. This style of bouquet composition originated in the 19th century in Germany. Flowers are collected in such a way that the finished composition resembles a ball in shape, and the stems are tightly fastened so that the bride can comfortably hold them in her hands. The bouquet is decorated with lace and ribbons, which in color and texture should be combined with the bride’s dress.

Wedding bouquet: signs

A wedding is an exciting event, and it is not at all surprising that it is surrounded by a large number of signs and beliefs. Of course, not all of them are worth believing, but some signs of fate, which, according to beliefs, promise happiness and long life together, are worth paying attention to. For example, the bride must receive a wedding bouquet from the hands of the groom, after the ransom has taken place. It is at the time of the transfer of the bouquet that the happy future husband can kiss his beloved – then it is better to refrain from kissing before the wedding or registration at the registry office.

So that happiness does not dissolve in the air, the bride should not let go of the bouquet presented by the groom. It is considered permissible to hand it over to the mother for a while or put it in front of you on the festive table. In the Western tradition, the bridesmaid can hold the bouquet. If you are still afraid to miss the bouquet, and with it happiness from your hands, you can sew a loop on the wedding dress – a fastener for flowers. This, incidentally, is a fairly common practice for, especially superstitious brides. But attaching a bouquet in the waist area is not recommended – it is believed that subsequent childbirth can be difficult.

If you are not planning to get married yet, then the appearance of those very flowers in a dream will be a good omen for you. It is believed that if in your nightly dreams you saw a bridal bouquet, then your own wedding is just around the corner.

How to choose your wedding bouquet

When choosing a wedding bouquet, first of all, you need to focus on the model and fabric of your dress. A luxurious dress, richly decorated, embroidered with beads or shiny threads, requires the purity and modesty of accessories. In other words, no-frills. Conversely, a modest dress can be organically combined even with an extravagant bouquet, decorated with ribbons or even crystals.

Also, take care of the shape of the bouquet. To do this, you can contact a florist – a specialist will tell you in detail about the possible options. There are many of them – round, cascading, a sphere-shaped bouquet, on a portaulette or on their own stems, and so on. By the way, in the modern world, where traditions do not always play the main role, a bouquet can replace a bracelet of flowers or a wreath. You can even limit yourself to flowers woven into your hair – remember the Greeks! In this case, flowers such as freesia, gardenia, or rose work best.

Do not forget about decorating the stems – on the most important day, everything should be perfect. Florists often tie them tightly with ribbons or fabric that matches the color scheme of the entire wedding story. Be careful not to make the handle look too long or out of proportion. This is always striking, spoils the overall picture, and looks bad in photographs.


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