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Wedding Traditions Explained: Wedding Bouquets

Dreading dealing with your future mother-in-law on your big day? Consider switching out your carefully chosen rose and hydrangea nosegay or wildflower tussy mussy for one made of a not-so-savory blend of garlic, herbs and spices. Dating back to ancient times, the tradition of the bridal bouquet originated out of the belief that strong odors had the power to ward off ill-wishing spirits. And we’re kidding about your mother-in-law. Sort of.

Dinner is Served

Victorian times saw the tradition of the bridal bouquet evolve from the foul to the fragrant, with a shift toward today’s floral compositions, which had since grown to represent joy, fertility and enduring love. Edible flowers were still included in most arrangements, with marigolds, in particular, achieving popularity. Dill was also frequently incorporated into bouquets, as people believed it enhanced the libido. The provocative herb–giving a whole new meaning to the term “sexual appetite”–was consumed by the bride and groom, members of the wedding party, and guests at the reception. During this era, brides also began choosing particular flowers for their specific symbolic nature.

Flower Power

Today’s brides have complete aesthetic freedom when choosing their bouquets, and are often influenced by color and shape, as well as the style of the ceremony, reception, dress and other design elements. Many brides simply opt for blooms that appeal to their unique sensibilities.

The Toss and Run

And while it would seem to make sense that another tradition–the tossing of the bouquet–might have stemmed from the bride’s ultimate intolerance of her bouquet’s noxious odor, the two are actually unrelated. In keeping with the theme of the oft-beleaguered bride, guests used to tear at her clothes in the hopes of grasping just a small thread of her good fortune. Throwing the bouquet was actually a device of distraction, as opposed to the sweet and hopeful gesture we recognize today.

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