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The Language of Flowers, and How They Fit into your Bouquet

A wedding is a huge event in any couple’s life. It reflects the bond the bride and groom share, and their promise to stay at each other’s side. What can perfectly reflect and convey the message of your commitment and loyalty to your other half beside flowers? One of the best ways to personalize your wedding is by adding flowers in your bouquet and floral arrangements that hold deep and specific meanings in the language of flowers.

When your guests step into the venue for the first time, the blooming sight of the beautiful flowers is one of the first things that they notice. Then the full, alluring fragrance of those beautiful flowers that you’ve chosen captivate your guests. While the color and fragrance of your flora are important, the magical touch of deep historical association to your chosen flowers will add further meaning and depth to your wedding.  

The Meaning Behind “The Language of Flowers”

People have been using nature to express themselves for several years. Around the Victorian era, symbolic meanings were defined. One of those meaningful definitions came from flowers. It started with a simple exchange of floral gifts to express one's feelings. Now, flowers are used in several occasions to express feelings and speak where words fall short.

Today, there are many flower language dictionaries and schools of thought around the world, and the meaning behind some specific flowers will vary from region-to-region. However, these wide range of meaning and  definition allow a floral arrangement to convey themes, motives, and emotional content and a range of other meanings from its composition.

Whatever sentiment that you wish to reflect through your wedding, there is always a flower that will fit your needs. Just as how every photo has a story to tell, every flower reflects a story and it is up to you what story you want to convey to the world.

To help you with that, we have researched a selection of flowers and their associated meanings to find out which flowers historically provide what.

The Rose

You cannot talk about flowers without talking about Roses. The rose is the definition of love and affection and it is no surprise that this iconic flower is used in more weddings than we can count.

However, there is actually a far deeper meaning associated with roses. This classical flower will have different meanings in arrangements, depending upon the color. Red roses represent love, passion, and beauty, while white roses represent purity, innocence, and youthfulness. Pink roses reflect admiration, gentleness and grace and peach roses signify sincerity.

There is a way to relay your message through specific arrangements. For example, a single rose flower may represent devotion while two rose flowers paired can be interpreted as a floral representation of the wedding. According to Victorian floral arrangement rules, thirteen roses represent the sign of affection from a secret admirer.

The Sweet Pea

The sweet pea is a delicate flower that earns the name from its sweet fragrance. This flower represents the month of April and adds a feminine and delicate touch to bouquets and centerpieces. With its rich to soothing nature, it can suit any wedding theme, thus it is an easy bouquet choice for many brides. This two-petalled flower symbolizes the enjoyment of innocent pleasure and inspires thoughts of girliness.

The Gardenia

Gardenias are a bright white flower with a sweet fragrance. They are a popular choice for wedding bouquets. Their heady fragrance and bright, voluptuous blooms have caught the eyes of brides for years, turning them into a popular, classic choice for floral arrangements at weddings. Their fragrance is captivating and their pastel colors are mesmerizing.

Gardenias are often assigned with several meanings that include peace, purity, love, calmness, and refinement. As with many flowers, the meaning behind a gardenia is often determined by its color. White gardenias convey peace, calmness, and harmony while a red gardenias, just as red roses do, convey love and affection between two souls, but red gardenias are more closely related with secrecy than red roses.

The Hydrangea

A flower first discovered in Japan, the name Hydrangea roughly translates to “water barrel”, referring to its cup-shaped flowers. There was a time people did not use hydrangeas as wedding flowers during the victorian era since they were associated with negative meanings. They portrayed a person as boastful, cold and frigid.

However, they have the opposite meaning in Japan. In Japan, they are known for representing gratitude. There is also a famous Japanese legend associated with hydrangea, as once an ancient emperor gave it to a woman he loved dearly as an apology for choosing his duties as emperor over his duties to her. So try adding hydrangeas to your floral arrangements to help convey your gratitude to your other half.

The Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley is a flower often used in religious ceremonies, wedding ceremonies and worldwide celebrations because of its beautiful fragrance and symbolism. It is often used in perfumes and grown in home gardens. They are often referred to as the May Lily, in the language of flowers they represent “the return to happiness,” and they symbolize chastity, purity, happiness, luck, and humility.

They are usually the first choice when it comes to Royal Weddings because of its symbolism, Lily of the valley with its captivating bloom was chosen by Kate Middleton for her wedding day bouquet.

Freesia is a delicious-looking bell-shaped bloom that has a sweet, citrus scent. This makes it one of the most popular fragrant flowers and is often the florist’s favorite preference for bouquets and centerpieces. Due to their delicate fragrance, freesia is popular among couples and is one of their primary choices for a bridal bouquet. They are, however, very difficult to grow in domestic gardens and their petals are extremely delicate. They are the seventh wedding anniversary flower, symbolizing the longevity of the couple.

Because of their intricate watercolor-like tones and sweet fragrance, freesia was popular even in the Victorian era as the ultimate flower of trust. These sweetly scented blooms represent friendship, trust, and honesty. Freesia should be widely considered for floral arrangements as they represent the intimate trust a couple has with each other.

The Peony

Peony, a flower with a recorded history that dates back to thousands of years, is often surrounded by mythological lore, all associating different meanings to it. A traditional floral symbol of China, the state flower of Indiana and the twelfth wedding anniversary flower, peonies are well-known as the flower of romance, riches, and honor, and often used to symbolize the strength of a bond between a couple.   

Aside from its embodiment as the omen of good fortune and a happy marriage, the Peony in the Victorian era was often used teasingly, conveying the emotion of bashfulness, so be aware of this aspect of Peony when using it!

Buttercups (Ranunculus)

Buttercups are known for their diverse brilliant colors. The rounded bloom looks similar to camellias, with multiple layers of rolled crepe-like petals. These bold blooms come in a variety of colors from elegant whites and delicate pinks, to fiery reds and regal golds.  Native to Asia and celebrated for its medicinal properties, Ranunculus is widely renowned for its bright beauty.

Also known as Ranculus or Coyote’s Eyes, the legend is that the mythological Coyote was throwing his eye up in the sky when an Eagle swooped by and snatched them. Unable to see, and feeling hopeless, Coyote decided to create new eyes from Buttercups. Because of this legend surrounding them, Ranunculus has been widely considered as a charm for beauty and attractiveness.

In Victorian-eras, The Ranunculus flower symbolized radiant charm and attractiveness and was widely used as a bouquet gift to deliver the message of likening a person's appearance as radiant or charming.

The Stephanotis

The delicate white flower can look strikingly stunning in a simple bouquet. Stephanotis derives from Greek, meaning ‘fit for a crown,’ and in the Victorian era, because of their shape and bright white color, they symbolized marital happiness, making this star-shaped trumpeting fragrant flower an obvious choice for weddings.

Not only are Stephanotis remarkable flowers to include in a bridal bouquet, but they also reign as one of the best choices to give as a floral gift to couples as a sign of wishing for their long, continued marital happiness. They can be ideally placed in floral arrangements of your wedding along with other significant flowers to reflect a combination of different meanings.

However, you need to be cautious when handling this flower as all parts are poisonous to humans.

The Tulip

Originally from Persia and Turkey, tulips are wildly popular around the globe. They are only available for a short time in spring, and if you are planning to say your vows in spring, then tulips, along with roses, can become the delicate attraction you want and can bring color and zest to your wedding floral arrangements.

As with all flowers, different colors carry distinct meanings, yellow tulips symbolize cheerful thoughts, purple tulips reflect regal bearing and white tulips convey intentions of giving or asking forgiveness. Red tulips have the Victorian meaning of a “perfect love” or as a declaration of love.

Being the eleventh wedding anniversary flower, with the power to declare love and affection, in the language of flowers, a tulip bouquet representing ultimate elegance and grace is an excellent addition to your bouquet.

The Sunflower

Thirteenth wedding anniversary flower and the state flower of Kansas, sunflowers are wildly popular because of their distinct ‘sun-like’ appearance. They have long held our fascination because of their brilliance and usefulness. The unique combination of striking beauty and usefulness is, in part, why sunflowers have appeared as such revered symbols throughout history.

Throughout the ages, the sunflower has been an undefeated symbol of beauty due to its brilliant yellow color. They are commonly photographed and utilized today as an icon of beauty.

However, all parts of this flower aren’t considered to be alluring, be wary of the stem especially. In the Victorian era, a sunflower with longer than usual stem conveyed the message of false riches and haughtiness, while the small-stemmed sunflower represented adoration and longevity.

Flowers you May Want to Avoid

Flowers have been considered as  symbols to convey different human thoughts and emotions. In everything, there is a good and bad side and flowers are no different. While most flowers convey positive messages, then there are bound to be some flowers that convey negative messages and you might want to avoid using them on your big day.

Begonias

Even though they are delicate in nature, they are often used as warnings to be cautious. In Victorian-era, begonia was often gifted to people to convey a warning, threat, or danger to them, giving begonia a dark negative meaning that you might not want to convey on your wedding day.

Hyacinth Flowers

While they are beautiful and attractive and you might get the urge to consider them to in your wedding floral arrangements because of their beauty, but hold on as they are mostly used in funerals, not weddings.

The Greeks have considered the Hyacinth to be the most beautiful flower. However, this flower is linked to the tragic myth of Hyacinthus in Greek mythology, and reflects the meaning of “tragic sacrifice”. Apollo’s lover was named Hyacinthus, and Apollo loved Hyacinthus dearly. But Hyacinthus’ beauty was renowned throughout the domain of the Gods, and many were jealous that Hyacinthus had chosen Apollo. One day Hyacinthus and Apollo were engaged in a game similar to frisbee, except with heavier disks, when Hyacinthus was running after a difficult catch. The frisbee hit the ground, and bounced back to hit Hyacinthus in the head, resulting in a fatal wound. Legend has it that the god of the west wind, Zephyrus, jealous of Apollo, blew Apollo’s throw off normal course, and instead routed to kill Hyacinthus. Apollo from his grief and as a memoir to his beloved turned the drops of blood fallen from Hyacinthus' wound into the Hyacinth. 

Different flowers have their meanings. You need to be sure about the message you want to convene to others. To avoid giving the wrong message, you might want to communicate with your florist. If you are going the DIY route, you need to do your research on your flowers and ask around if you get in a jam.

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