Floral and Decor: Wedding Flower Customs and Traditions

Flowers are one of the main elements of most weddings’ decor. Adding flowers that match the color scheme of your wedding definitely brightens any room or venue, and can take a reception from ordinary to extraordinary, but do you know why flowers are such a prevalent part of weddings? Most wedding flowers can be traced back to ancient traditions all over the world. Read on to learn more about the wedding flower customs and traditions that have shaped our flower-full weddings of today.

  • Wedding flowers are thought to be originated in the earliest days of primitive marriage, when fears of demons were most prevalent. Early brides would carry stinking garlands of herbs and spices for the purpose of frightening off evil spirits.

  • Brides in ancient Rome would carry bunches of herbs to symbolize fidelity and fertility, and to scare off evil spirits as well. This tradition is still reflected in Indian weddings in which the brother of the groom sprinkles flower petals over the couple at the end of the wedding ceremony to protect them from evil.

  • In a similar vein, grooms in Sweden and Denmark sew small packets or sachets of pungent, strong-smelling herbs such as rosemary, garlic and chives into their clothing to symbolize good health and good luck.

  • In the Middle East, the bitter herb Artemisia is used in the bridal bouquet to make sure that the marriage survives bitter times as well as good times.
    Our image gallery offers more ideas for traditional and non-traditional wedding flowers.

  • In Tudor England, brides ate marigolds dipped in rosewater after the wedding ceremony as the combination was thought to have aphrodisiac properties.

  • Ancient Greek brides included ivy in their bridal bouquets as a symbol of their tenacious spirit and never-ending love.

  • In Greek Orthodox weddings, crowns of fragrant and delicate white orange blossoms were traditionally made for both the bride and the groom to symbolize virginity and purity. In traditional Indian weddings, the bride and the groom also both don a floral headpiece.

  • Tossing the bouquet is a tradition that began in England, when women used to try to rip pieces off of the bride’s dress and flowers in order to attain some of her good luck. To distract the crowd the bride would toss her wedding bouquet and run away.

  • The Victorians were fascinated by the meanings of different flowers, and were one of the first groups to popularize the wedding rose, which represents true love.

  • Unlike the Western hemisphere, the Chinese and Japanese view white as the color of death and funerals. Instead, the color red plays a vital role in wedding festivities as it is considered a bold and lucky color.

  • Peonies and roses are very popular wedding flowers in Chinese and Japanese weddings, and bouquets are always grouped in six or nine flowers as these numbers represent prosperity and wealth. Groups of three flowers are avoided because the word for three is very similar to the word used for death.
Some of these cultural wedding customs may seem obscure, odd, or just plain silly now, but they have led to the beautiful tradition of having flowers at your wedding. Consider adopting some of these ancient or cultural traditions into your own wedding for a unique spin on traditional wedding flowers and decor.