Flowers are one of the most important parts of every wedding celebration, but the choice doesn’t depend solely on colour, texture and fragrance. Each bloom has a specific meaning depending on the colour. While most popular wedding flowers such as roses, peonies, tulips and orchids have positive meanings and symbolise love, beauty, prosperity and innocence, some of them are unfavourable due to their negative connotations. The interest for floriography (the language of flowers) soared in Victorian England, but the symbolism is still relevant today. Many famous writers such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Bronte sisters used this secret language in their writings which you can use as inspiration for your wedding flowers.
Flowers were given special meanings in Persia and the Middle East, but it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the first flower dictionaries were published. The language of flowers became popular in France around 1810, and in 1819 Miss Corruthers of Inverness wrote a book called Le Language de Fleursand which was considered as the guide to the secret meanings of plants in England as well. During the Victorian era in England giving flowers meant expressing emotions such as love, hate, rejection or bashfulness. It was a coded language used to pass on secret messages, often among lovers. The growing interest in symbolic meanings of flowers and herbs coincided with the booming popularity of botany.
It was during the Victorian era that most of today’s wedding traditions were established, and they include the white wedding gown, wearable florals and elaborate wedding cakes. This was the time when the tussi-mussie and nosegay bouquet was introduced, and since they are so versatile and decorative, they are much-loved by modern brides who want their bridal flowers to be colourful and unique.
Symbolic meanings of flowers are especially important to royal brides who are carefully choosing blooms for their wedding bouquets.
When Queen Elizabeth II wed Prince Philip, she was wearing a big, lavish bouquet with orchids to match her elaborate lace dress. According to the Victorian language of flowers, orchids symbolise love and beauty, which is why they make the perfect choice for weddings.
Grace Kelly’s wedding bouquet was small and understated, but very elegant. She picked lilly-of-the-valley which stands for a trustworthy wife and means happiness. The same bloom was one of the ingredients of Lady Diana’s magnificent cascading bouquet which also included gardenias which means purity and joy, stephanotis to ensure marital happiness, freesias and white roses which symbolise innocence, Ivy and Veronica which represent fidelity and Myrtle which is thought to bring good luck in marriage.
Unlike Diana’s flamboyant tear-shaped bouquet, Kate Middleton had a smaller arrangement made from seasonal, locally-sourced blooms. It included sweet William which stands for gallantry, but she picked because of its name, hyacinth which means fidelity, and a selection of blossoms which became a royal tradition: lily-of-the-valley, myrtle and ivy.
Finally, a small flower dictionary is a handy tool for every bride-to-be so we selected some of the most popular wedding flowers to help you make a meaningful choice:
Baby’s Breath – innocence
Calla Lily – majestic beauty
Carnation – red carnations symbolise love, white mean endearment, while pink are sending a message: I will never forget you
Freesia – innocence
Gardenia – joy and purity
Iris – wisdom
Ivy – fidelity
Lilac – first love
Lily-of-the-valley – sweetness, happiness
Myrtle – love, joy, happy marriage
Orchid – love, beauty, refinement
Peony – love, happy marriage, prosperity, bashfulness
Rose – pink ones stand for happiness, red ones mean love, white ones symbolise purity and innocence, while yellow ones are associated with jealousy and decrease of love
Stephanotis – marital happiness
Sweet Pea –pleasure
Tulip – true love, passion
Violet – innocence and modesty
Zinnia – lasting affection and remembrance
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