August 13th, 2015

Wedding Bouquet

What’s the history behind the wedding bouquet and why does the bride still carry this carefully arranged collection of flowers on her big day?

The bridal bouquet is yet another weird wedding tradition. There are so many things that people do at their weddings that are lost in tradition. I’ve spoken before about how strange it is to cut the cake and the everyday sexism of the speeches (all the speeches are given by men). And yes the bridal bouquet is in that category of wedding oddities. It all started out as a way for the bride to mask her scent. That’s right, people used to smell so bad that the solution was to carry a bunch of flowers to your wedding in an effort to hide the body odour. But that particular necessity has gone, we’ve got perfume now, and showers!

Although there is some contention about the origins of the bridal bouquets, another reason for carrying a bouquet is to ward off evil spirits. Yikes! Hopefully we’ve evolved from those times too – even so girls are still sticking with the floral accessory. On a more romantic note (than poor hygiene and medieval paranoia), some believe that the bouquet is a symbol of love. It’s said that the Victorians used flowers as a secret message between lovers – not much of a secret actually – old matey boy turns up carrying a bunch of roses and surely someone would assume he’s up to something. Cynicism aside, this does make the bouquet into a more romantic symbol and perhaps that’s why it’s survived.

The simple reason why the wedding flowers still extend to the portable version carried by the bride and her bridesmaids probably has more to do with the fact that flowers look pretty. They look lovely but they also give you something to do with your hands, no bag and no mobile phone leaves a girl feeling a little lost when it comes to where to keep her hands and luckily the bouquet fills that gap.

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Photographs by Paul Tschornow (