The Bridal Bouquet: A History

Jan 19

What came first?  The bouquet or the bride?  Bouquets have existed and played a quintessential role in weddings since man can remember.   While over time the meaning of floral arrangements has changed, one thing has remained the same…bouquets play a center role in the wedding.  While all eyes are on the happy couple, it is no wonder that bouquets have to parallel the beauty of the blushing bride.  

15th Century Bouquets

Bouquets played a very important and hygienic role in the weddings of old. Imagine a time when bathing came once a year, and the bath you took was left over water from the men of the household. Thank goodness hygiene practices have upgraded and hot running water is a thing. Bathing would typically take place in May, making any big event (such as a wedding) scheduled shortly after, in June. Brides would carry bouquets with potent florals to mask the smell of any possible body odor. Not only were the bouquets beautiful, but they masked smell – that’s multipurpose at its finest. 

Bouquets in the Plague Years

During the years of the plague (the one before COVID), couples still anticipated having a wedding, despite the risk. The couples would have to consolidate the number of guests and do what they could to make it a safe event, a story 2020 brides know all too well. The bride would carry a bouquet of healing agents which would “ward off the plague”. Garlic and various spices would make up the majority of the bouquet. 

The Victorian Era

Out of all the bouquet meanings, this one is closest to our modern day ideologies of the meaning of bouquets. In the Victorian era, people were very symbolic in a multitude of their choices, one being the flowers in the bouquet. It was actually during this time period where florals started to have meaning behind them. For example, nowadays different colors of roses can symbolize friendship or love. Men would send floral arrangements to their love, and the receiver would always know how he felt about her based on the flowers within the arrangement. Brides would return the favor and pick her bouquet florals as a message to the groom about her feelings on their big day. This reasoning is by far the sweetest. How romantic that a big piece of your wedding that is photographed constantly has a message to your husband?

Today, a brides bouquet is one of her most memorable accessories. The tradition of modern day bouquet is not to mask the smell of body odor or ward off the plague, but to be seen and admired. This may seem simple, but the bride will always cherish her bouquet to look back on whether that be through preservation or photos. Throughout history, bouquets had numerous meanings and traditions, but the one similarity they all shared was to play an important role for the bride on their wedding day.


Been day dreaming about the perfect flowers for your celebration adventure?! Let Array Design make it a reality!

Array Design contact page link.

Photographer | Meredith Amadee

Florist | Array Design

Coordinator | Hitch without a Glitch

Archway and Audio Rental | Centric Events

Bridal Dress | Almond Tree Wedding Boutique

Bridesmaid Dresses | Azazi

Array Design intern, Tori, sitting on brick and tile steps next to a short biography description.

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