Weddings and flowers go together like love and marriage, chocolate and peanut butter, and all those other cultural icons that get grouped together in the collective consciousness. The association is so ingrained in the minds of most brides- and grooms-to-be that few ever ask themselves what the alternatives are. You can absolutely plan a wedding that involves no fresh flowers whatsoever, but few people end up going that route. It’s hard not to like wedding flowers!
Flowers are attractive because they have to be—fruits, honey, and the next generation of blooms are all products of floral sex appeal. The fact that they smell good doesn’t exactly hurt, either. Humankind figured out the relationship between flowers and fertility pretty early on, and it wasn’t long before blooms came to be associated with bountiful marriages.
Herbs and florals have found their way into rites of all kinds ever since the first human being had the wherewithal to take notice of nature’s beauty, which means that flora has been a customary part of nuptial celebrations for thousands of years.
The very first wedding flowers were more than likely bundles of strong smelling greenstuffs meant to ward off those ever-present evil spirits. In ancient Greece, brides wore crown wreaths made of flowers symbolizing love and fidelity, and herbal garlands were hung to commemorate the union being formed.
Nowadays, very few brides-to-be consider walking down the aisle with a string of garlic in one hand and a bunch of sage in the other, yet the tradition lives on in the form of the bridal bouquet, the boutonnière, pew ends, and centerpieces. Flowers pop up in other places, too.
Brides and grooms who love their moms and grandmas give these honored guests corsages to wear during the ceremony and reception to distinguish them from other guests. Some brides incorporate real or faux blooms into their wedding day hairstyles instead of wedding hair combs or tiaras, though this works best on those lucky ladies who are not prone to picking at their updos. Edible petals like those mentioned in chapter twelve appear on classically elegant cakes, and fresh flowers can even take center stage in ceremony and reception décor.
Whether you lust after lavish bridal bouquets of brilliant red roses or modern earth-tone centerpieces embellished with lots of greenery will have a lot to do with what kind of wedding you’re planning. That said, you’ll want to wait until you know what you and your wedding party will be wearing before choosing wedding flowers—or choosing to forgo them. Bouquets and boutonnières spend a lot of time against a backdrop of dresses and suits so they need to be somewhat complimentary.
Color theory web sites can help you nail down a wedding flower color scheme that isn’t too matchy-matchy. If the bridesmaid dresses are a lovely shade of periwinkle, the periwinkles you love so much are going to get lost in your photographs.