Wedding Weddings

Have you ever wondered why brides carry flower bouquets?

If you’re a bride-to-be in the middle of planning your wedding, one of the many things on your long to-do list is picking out flowers. More importantly, picking out the flowers that you want in your bouquet as you walk down the aisle.  Bouquets are aesthetically pleasing and they also give brides something to do with their hands. It’s a win-win situation. While many of us are accustomed to seeing brides holding bouquets on their big days, I am sure the origin of the tradition is a mystery to most.

A bowl of herbs used for herb bouquets at weddings.
[Image Description: A bowl of herbs used for herb bouquets at weddings.] via Pixabay
The tradition began in Ancient Greece and Rome. Brides would carry herbs and spices with them down the aisle. A typical bouquet would be made from garlic and other herbs that were arranged together. The purpose of holding the flowers was to ward off evil spirits that might curse the newlywed couples. Brides also wore garlands along with their bouquets.  The garland was a symbol of life and fertility.

Also, in ancient times the bride was considered to be lucky and fortunate. Since they were seen as individuals who possessed plenty of luck, their wedding guests would swarm and surround them to try and grab onto pieces of their dress.  By tearing parts of the bride’s dress away, they were hoping to transfer some luck and fortune to themselves. The swarming of the bride was actually pretty dangerous and resulted in injury. Sounds a little scary and intense, right?

Many believe that brides also started carrying bouquets because it helped alleviate unfortunate injuries at weddings.  Instead of creating a mob of wedding guests eager to grab a piece of the bride’s dress, people could simply catch the bouquet for good luck. I think many us of would agree that catching a bouquet or a garter is definitely safer than a full-on mob.

Along with protecting a bride from evil spirits and their overly excited wedding guests, there is another reason behind brides carrying wedding bouquets.  It is a little gross and unhygienic, but it re-enforced the wedding tradition of carrying a bouquet in the Victorian Era. In the 15th century, they didn’t exactly bathe often. What I mean by this is that they only had a bath once a year in May.  Hopefully, they at least washed the important areas from time to time!

Baths in May meant that June weddings were popular because brides and grooms would be at their cleanest. Although they were supposedly “clean” from the yearly bath,  brides would use bouquets to help mask any odors. I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that they did not have any perfume or body spray back then.

On the more romantic side of things, during the Victorian era, brides would use their bouquets to send messages to their significant others. Different flowers represent different meanings, so the flowers that the bride chose for their bouquet could have a special meaning. That’s pretty romantic to me!

The reasons for carrying bouquets down the aisle in the past were truly unique and actually very practical. Today,  most people do not use them to ward off evil spirits or mask body odor. So, it’s completely understandable if you do not want to carry a bouquet down the aisle.

Don’t get me wrong, I think bouquets are beautiful and I love seeing all the intricate flower arrangements at weddings.  For one thing, you are already in a big dress which might have a long train. By that point, you might as well hold a bouquet too.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

By Tatayana Allen

Tatayana Allen is the Junior Love and Health Editor and journalist for The Tempest. During her time at the University of Virginia, she was a Media Studies major and a member of the Cavalier Marching Band. Tatayana loves anything related to fashion, music, and photography.