The language of flowers – what do wedding flowers symbolise?
A great way to personalise your wedding is to choose flowers for your bouquet and floral arrangements that hold specific meanings in the language of flowers (floriography).
Floriography was a cryptic way to communicate using flowers. In Victorian times, gifts of plants and floral arrangements were often used to send coded messages, allowing the sender to express feelings that could not be spoken aloud. ‘Talking bouquets’ called nosegays or tussie-mussies could be worn or carried as a fashion accessory. Writers such as the Bronte sisters and William Shakespear used the language of flowers throughout their writings.
Humans have found symbolism in nature for centuries and learning what blooms mean might make your decision a little easier. Here are some examples of popular bridal flowers and their meanings.
Anemone flowers represent “expectation,” which seems appropriate for a marriage. Other interpretations include good luck and protection against evil. Primarily in season during the spring and perfect for bouquets and arrangements.
Baby’s breath or Gypsophila symbolise innocence. Gypsophila is the perfect filler for arrangements or bouquets, or works just as well on its own. Bouquets and pew end arrangements of baby’s breath have been very popular the past few years. It is fairly inexpensive and in season year-round, so go crazy!
Lightly fragrant calla lilies represent “magnificent beauty,” and are perfect and in season for spring and summer weddings, although you can generally get white calla lily year-round.
Colourful carnations are extremely under-rated. They are inexpensive and in season year-round in many colours. Each colour symbolises something different. Pink represents boldness, red symbolises love, and white indicates innocence, while a yellow carnation was a sign of rejection!
A beautiful symbol for Spring and new beginnings, the perfect representation for marriage. Also means ‘The sun is always shining when I am with you’.
The dahlia is a symbol of a commitment and ever-lasting bonds, perfect for weddings. The bold flower is elegant for summer or early Autumn wedding.
Oh so pretty, daisies mean to “share one’s feelings,” so a nice idea is to arrange them around your ceremony space for when you exchange vows.
Lightly fragrant delphiniums represent swiftness and lightness, and are beloved for summer weddings.
Freesias have a fresh, fruity scent and represent innocence, friendship and thoughtfulness. Available in bright colours with a long vase life.
A wildly popular member of the daisy family, the Gerbera differs from the traditional variety with rows of overlapping petals. Its name means cheerfulness and it is available in brilliant bold colours and big blooms
In their native Japan, they represent gratitude. Legend has it that an emperor supposedly gave hydrangeas to a woman he loved as an apology for neglecting her when his duties as a ruler took up his attention. There are mixed opinions on the meaning of hydrangea, but the overall symbolism is of heartfelt emotion.
Unusual irises—which typically come in blue, purple or white—symbolise friendship, faith and wisdom. Inspiration for the Fleur-de-lis symbol, the emblem of France.
Perfect for its gorgeous colour and scent, lavender symbolises devotion and virtue.
This large showy flower with a distinctive fragrance has been around for 20 million years! It symbolises nobility and dignity.
Orchids are a symbol of beauty, love and fertility. They come in a variety of colors and sizes so you are likely to find a variety that is beautiful to you!
Peonies stand for love, happiness and ambition. They’re in season during late spring and summer. Very popular bouquet flower.
In the language of flowers a Ranunculus bouquet will say, “I am dazzled by your charms.” Perfect for walking down the aisle to your partner. Also, they’re available in nearly every colour.
It’s no wonder roses rank as the most beloved wedding flowers. They are the perfect symbol of romance, love and beauty, are available all year round and so versatile for arrangements and bouquets.Available in a huge variety of shapes and colours, it is no wonder they are so popular.
Long stock flowers have tall stems and represent lasting beauty. They are fragrant, good value and come in a variety of colours, so they’re guaranteed to complement any arrangement or palette.
Sunflowers mean adoration and loyalty. The head of the sunflower is known to follow the sun as it moves across the sky. The colours and the symbolism make them perfect additions to a rustic summer wedding.
The ever-popular tulip indicates love and passion— perfect for the most romantic day of your life. They can be found in a variety of colours, from pastels to bolder colours. Perfect for spring weddings.
So there you have an explanation of some of the most popular wedding flowers and the list could go on. I find it fascinating that flowers were used to convey messages in such a way, the secrecy and mystery just adds to their beauty.
Will you use the language of flowers to help you choose your wedding flowers?
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Yvonne Cassidy is a Wedding Designer and Independent Wedding Celebrant, based in Dublin. With a passion for flowers and fresh ideas, Yvonne’s aim is to help couples create beautiful, one of a kind weddings.