Bridal bouquets aren’t really required for wedding ceremonies, but imagine how odd it would seem for a bride to walk down the aisle empty-handed. Where did this tradition come from?
It’s been suggested that wedding flowers were originally used to mask body odor, back before regular bathing became the norm, but that’s actually a misconception. In reality, the earliest bridal bouquets didn’t really contain many flowers (if any). Instead, they were mostly made up of herbs. It was the ancient Romans who were the first people to send their brides down the aisle with bundles of herbs, symbolizing traits like fidelity & fertility.
Considered an aphrodisiac at the time, dill was especially common in Roman bouquets, and was also served at many wedding receptions to help the bride & groom prepare for their wedding night. Garlic was sometimes used in the bouquets, too, since it was thought to protect the bride from bad luck or evil spirits. Then, over the centuries, people began to introduce other plant life into their wedding bouquets, flowers included. Marigolds were really popular in 16th-century England, as they were a symbol of faithfulness & endless love.
It was during the Victorian era that floriography, or “the language of flowers’, became a big fad, and led to people sending each other carefully-assembled bouquets of flowers with specific meanings. For instance, pennyroyal meant “you must leave”, while pineapple conveyed that you the recipient was perfect. There were books called “floral dictionaries” that laid out all the flowers’ meanings.
Secret flower messages fell out of fashion, though, as the world shifted its focus to World War I, but bridal bouquets never did. Though, you might want to make sure yours doesn’t contain any pennyroyal, just in case your soon-to-be spouse happens to be an undercover floriographer.
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