The History of Bridal Bouquets

Planning a wedding is an exciting endeavor for any newly engaged couple. But the process can raise a few questions along the way, like who decided there should be a wedding cake instead of pie? Why have bridesmaids and groomsmen? And where did the tradition of carrying a bouquet come from? While we can’t answer all of these questions for you, the experts at Conklyn’s Weddings are happy to share with you the history and traditions surrounding the bridal bouquet. 


Lovely white orchid wedding bouquet

Back In Ancient Times….

The tradition of carrying a bouquet dates back to ancient times. In Ancient Rome and Greece, the bridal bouquet was used to reflect the beauty of the bride. The plants, herbs, and flowers used in these bouquets were also considered aphrodisiacs, symbolizing wishes for fertility on the happy couple. Bundles of wheat, branches of nuts or fruit trees, and indigenous flowers were commonly mixed into lush bouquets for brides to carry through their wedding ceremony.


Middle Ages bridal bouquet with lavender and onions.

…Moving Into the Middle Ages….

Centuries later, the contents of the bridal bouquet took on a slightly different meaning. By the Middle Ages, brides and grooms everywhere felt the need to ward off evil spirits, protect their upcoming marriage from disaster, and generally surround themselves with good juju on their wedding day. Brides began to fill their wedding bouquets with dried potpourri-style fragrant flowers like lavender and roses, as well as garlic, which was then believed to protect those carrying them from evil and bring good luck and blessing to the couple. This was also the time when bridesmaids would dress like the bride to confuse evil spirits bent on wreaking havoc on the wedding day. If the spirits couldn’t tell who the bride was, they couldn’t cause her harm. It was also important during this time that brides and grooms smell their best. Just in case a bath didn’t do the trick, brides relied on the fragrant roses, peonies, or hyacinths in their bouquet to add lovely scented covering to other natural odors.


Pink and peach roses inspired by the Victorian Era.

The Symbolic Victorian Era

The Victorian Era gave birth to the notion of adding special meaning to flowers and their colors. Sending a loved one a purple iris indicated thoughts of royalty and a pink rose showed a sweet new admiration was blooming. So, in the age of meaningful flowers and colors, what a bride carried in her bouquet was of utmost importance to the significance of the day. Was she promoting wealth and prosperity for her and her new husband? Best to carry Lilies of the Valley or Alstroemeria. Did they hope to have a lot of children? A bouquet of orchids was appropriate. Did they want the world to know how in love they were? Her colors would definitely be red, orange, or peach. As soon as Queen Victoria carried myrtle in her bridal bouquet, a tradition began for all royal weddings, including Kate Middleton’s wedding to Prince William, to include myrtle as well.


Fun modern and elegant bridal bouquet with pink, white, and purple peonies.

Today’s Bridal Bouquet

These days, unless you too will be marrying a prince, you’re free to choose a bridal bouquet that suits your style and reflects your personality. Today bridal bouquets are an accent piece that corresponds to the overall theme and aesthetic of your wedding. For example, many rustic weddings feature daisies or sunflowers in their bridal bouquets, while more traditional ceremonies might include roses or ranunculus, A winter wedding can include boughs with winter berries, while a beach wedding might feature birds of paradise and ti leaves. 

While history shows plenty of traditions to follow when it comes to bridal bouquets, today’s bride has as many options as there are floral varieties to choose from. If your family (or family-to-be) has a particular bouquet tradition, it might be important to stick with family protocol. You also might want to carry a special piece of jewelry, fabric, or other charm that holds special meaning to you with your bouquet as you walk down the aisle. But at the end of the day, the wedding bouquet you choose is completely up to you. Let it be a signature of your style and personality as a couple and let it reflect who you are as you come together as one. For more ideas about your perfect bridal bouquet, talk to the wedding professionals at Conklyn’s Weddings. We’re happy to give advice, show you options, and help you choose the perfect design for you.