Wedding Ideas

The Romantic Language of Flowers

Posted on June 13 by New Jersey Bride

Kay English Photography

Whoever came up with the slogan, “Say it with flowers” was no dummy. The phrase was first used commercially in 1917 and now is a well-entrenched part of our lexicon. And for good reason: Trees, flowers and other plants have been used since ancient times to convey meaning. The lotus has long been associated with Buddha, while Hindus believe that the god Brahma was born from a golden lotus, representing Mother Earth.

The meaning of the rose, one of the most enduring and beautiful symbols of love, can be traced back to Greek and Roman mythology. However, no place in history was the symbolism of flowers more revered than in the Victorian era when “the language of flowers” had its heyday. During this period, flowers and herbs, often gathered into a small bouquet, wrapped in a lace doily, and tied with satin ribbon or presented in a ornate silver holder, were used to secretly say what a suitor was too shy to say directly to the object of his affections. The giving and receiving of these bouquets, called nosegays or tussie mussies, became quite the pastime of discreet Victorian ladies and gentlemen.

To decipher these covert messages, many types of flower dictionaries were compiled and published, offering lists of blooms and their meanings. However, the difference between joy and disappointment was based solely upon whether the receiver used the same code book as the sender. Because of this, many flowers now represent several, sometimes contradictory, meanings. This charming, romantic custom can be incorporated into your wedding, adding another layer of meaning to your day.

Consider choosing several types of flowers and herbs to make a statement. What mother wouldn’t love to carry a small bouquet of snapdragons, sage and yellow tulips (translation: gracious lady, strength, wisdom, great respect and sunny smile)?

White and delicate, sweet-smelling orange blossoms represent eternal love, marriage and fertility, since it is one of the only plants that blossoms and bears fruit simultaneously. Queen Victoria herself wore a wreath of orange blossoms in her hair and trimmed her wedding dress with the same.

Not only the type of bloom, but the color, plays a significant role in floral symbolism. A red rose is the singularly most recognized symbol for passionate love, while yellow can signify jealousy or friendship, and white represents innocence and purity.

So remember, on your big day, when emotions may overcome you and words may not adequately express what is in your heart, don’t stress—just let your flowers do the talking.


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