Bouquets That Speak Volumes

Bouquets That Speak Volumes

The wedding bouquet, while a centerpiece of the traditional American wedding, is often chosen because of the beauty of the bud, or its color’s cohesive nature in the overall theme of the wedding.  However, like so many traditions, flowers carry a deeper meaning aside from their ability to perfectly match the sashes on your chair covers.

Flowers and herbs have long been revered for their medicinal and healing properties, but it was Le Langage des Fleurs, penned in 1819, that sparked a Victorian-era frenzy over “floriography, the language of flowers and how they could be arranged to send coded messages to their recipient.”

While several flower dictionaries were and are currently in use, not all of them assign the same meanings to flowers, and the same flower may be translated differently depending on the arrangement, so make sure to stick to one source and be mindful if you’re choosing a multiple-blossom bouquet.

Find a few non-traditional selections below from Henrietta Dumont’s 1852 edition of The Language of Flowers:  The Floral Offering:  A Token of Affection and Esteem; Comprising the Language and Poetry of Flowers for some flowers that will truly let your wedding bouquet speak volumes.

Fennel: Strength

Display the strength of your and your betrothed’s love with a wedding bouquet of fennel.  A beautiful complement to an outdoor or rustic-themed wedding, its aromatic anise or licorice scent will accompany you down the aisle while its feathery foliage and delicate yellow flowers offer a modest but whimsical alternative to more traditional flower arrangements.  Incorporate it into your reception by offering some fennel-based appetizers or entrees.

Cactus: Ardent Love

Cacti may seem like an odd choice for a wedding bouquet—the logistics alone may seem dangerous, with each spine a potential hazard—but not all cacti are of the prickly-nature, with many spineless, or easily pruned varieties available.  The unique shapes and colors available within the cactus family are virtually endless, and so thus are your possibilities.  Cacti will round out a Southwestern or desert-themed wedding nicely and will also make for great centerpieces or low-maintenance favors.

Strawberry: Perfection

Combine the bright green leaves, unassuming white flowers, bright red strawberries, and even a few of their paler, unripe cousins to create a gorgeous and unexpected wedding bouquet that’s good enough to eat!  These bouquets tend to be a bit more on the perishable side and due to their fragility have a higher propensity for staining clothes on contact, so you might opt for a secondary bouquet for the toss.  This bouquet would fit well into a red-and-white-theme or a rural wedding.  Strawberries are a bold but easy accent to tie into your wedding celebration, but you might consider plantable invitations containing strawberry seeds, a white wedding cake with strawberry filling and fresh strawberry complements, or strawberry plant favors.

Ivy: Constancy

Forever is a long time, and on this day, you are committing your forever to that special someone standing next to you.  Symbolize your never-ending love and support with an ivy wedding bouquet.  Alternate sprigs of flower-toting ivies with ivies of marbled or speckled color for added visual interest.  These bouquets can be as elaborate and flowery as you’d like or more foliage-based depending on your tastes.  These would be ideal at fairytale or whimsically themed weddings.  Strategically place ivy around or incorporated into centerpieces for an added touch of romance.

According to Dumont’s definitions, brides may want to avoid some of the following buds:

Peony:  Anger

Lavender: Distrust

Primrose: Early Grief

Yellow Rose: Jealousy

Your wedding bouquet is a simple and understated way to personalize this momentous occasion to your vision.  Keep in mind that the above suggestions are based only one author’s translation, and, like many traditions, can evolve with time and interpretation.  Throughout history, flower meanings have rarely reached a consensus; so if your heart is set on yellow roses with lavender accents, fear not.  Unless your guests are well versed in Victorian-era floriography, and pride themselves on their complete memorization of Dumont’s text, no one will be the wiser.