Have you ever thought about how the bridal bouquet and boutonniere came to be a widespread custom?

There are lots of different reasons throughout history for the bridal bouquet. Some are romantic, and some are just kind of weird or plain gross. The research on this subject has been pretty interesting, to say the least.  Just like many traditions in human history, some of these traditions have evolved from old wives’ tales that may seem strange today.

It seems the bridal bouquet may have been a bundle of garlic and dill. Can you imagine?  But this practice was originated during the time of the plague, when people clutched the herbs close to their noses and mouths in a desperate effort to kill germs from the horrible sickness.

Besides warding off sickness, the bouquet was once believed to ward off evil spirits. Some believed that while entering a new marriage, building a new home, starting a new family and merging of families, would cause your new house to be under attack from evil spirits. So, the family members would go out into the fields and pick strong smelling herbs and add sachets of fragrant spices to ward off the evil spirit form entering the marriage.

To keep on the theme of foul odors, the bride, groom, and everyone involved probably did not smell great! Before air conditioning, deodorant, and fresh water from indoor plumbing, there was probably a lot of very unpleasant smelling people gathered in one place.  So finally, the wedding bouquet began to evolve into an arrangement of pleasantly fragrant florals.  The bride could carry the bouquet at her chest, and the sweet-smelling flowers would help to not only mask the smell of the crowd, but also her!

Luckily, the purpose of the bouquet kept evolving. During the Victorian times, in fact, it started to have a more special meaning. Floriography, or the language of flowers, came to be the texting of their generation.  This is where a specific flower was given a significant meaning. If the groom, wanted to send his bride a sweet coded message, he would choose a bouquet using flowers that conveyed his message of love. The soon to be bride could send a message to her beloved as well. It was a love language. How sweet!

So, this brings me to the more romantic side for the history of the bridal bouquet.  I was told that on the day of the wedding the groom would go out into the fields and forage for beautiful sweet-smelling flowers. He would gather the flowers into a grouping and wrap with what ever he had on hand. Maybe he would wrap the bundle with twine or a vine or torn cloth from his shirt. Then the bundle of flowers would be sent to the bride at the gathering place or church. The bride would be overjoyed by his romantic gesture which was a sign that he was ready for the ceremony to begin.  She would unbundle the flowers and break off one precious flower. The bride would then arrange the flowers into a beautiful bouquet. The single flower would then be given to her closest friend, who would quickly take this flower to the groom. This signified that the bride was ready for the wedding to begin. The groom would wear the single flower on his shirt or lapel, which would be the start of the boutonniere.

Now that we have looked at how bouquets have evolved, we are so thankful for the beauty of all the flower choices and styles that we have today. The bouquet still is such a significant part of wedding planning, but today it is more about personal expression and style, rather than necessity or symbolism. When we at The Tallest Tulip sit down with a bride to discuss her flower style, we always start with the bouquet, after all, the bouquet is how it all began.

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