Bouquets Through Time: How Wedding Trends Have Evolved Over Decades!

Written by Emma

Whether a large multi-day wedding or small intimate gathering, flowers are a key part to many people’s weddings. Today, brides and grooms select their wedding flowers to fit in with a particular color scheme, time of year or wedding trend. However, wedding flowers of the past were very different and have changed drastically throughout history!

I’m sure you all know, but a wedding bouquet is essentially a bunch of flowers held by the bride or groom. The word Bouquet comes from an old French word for “little wood”. This conjures amusing images of myself trying to carry a handful of trees down the aisle. The word bouquet was first used to describe a bunch of flowers in 1717 by Lady M. W. Montagu. This is the same lady who is held responsible for the origin of Floriography.

When did wedding bouquets originate?

Carrying flowers when getting married dates back thousands of years. Back then, it was likely that the incorporation of flowers into wedding ceremonies was more practical than today where our flower choices are often based on aesthetics.

It wasn’t just flowers that were used. It was common for brides to carry bunches of crops and fragrant herbs. For example, Ancient Greeks used Mint in garlands and wreaths, whilst Roman brides carried Wheat, Rosemary and Myrtle. Brides in Europe during the middles ages even used Garlic and Chives to ward off jealous spirits. 

The birth of the modern bouquet

We can thank Queen Victoria, in 1840, for the birth of the modern-day bouquet. Upon her marriage to Prince Albert, some say she carried a bouquet containing Myrtle, but the jury is out, with some saying that this Royal tradition started later with the marriage of her daughter.

Along with her bouquet, Queen Victoria adorned her hair with Orange Blossom, believed to symbolise chastity. The Victorian Era witnessed Floriography, the trend linking flower types/colors with hidden meanings, becoming all the rage!

So, what is Floriography?

Floriography, which means the use of flowers as a means of communication, has been practised for thousands of years all around the World. However, the Victorian Era saw it become all the rage after Lady Mary Wortley Montagu introduced it to Europe in the early 1700s People would painstakingly select what flowers to gift someone based on the message they wanted to convey.

But floriography encompassed, and continues to encompass, much more than merely the type of flower. It also includes the color of the flowers, as well as whether a single bloom or a complex bouquet was gifted. It’s easy to see how it could get really complicated!

If you want to know more about Floriography from the 1800’s, take a look at this floral dictionary.

What did wedding bouquets looks like in my family?

I consider myself fortunate to possess photos of my family dating back almost 100 years, so I decided to share the evolution of bouquets in my family over time.

So, let’s start with 1926! Whilst not the best photo, large bouquets of what appear to be white flowers were popular. You can just make out that there were Lily’s and Tulips along with trailing Ivy.

Moving onto the 1950’s, bouquets had become enormous and seemed to feature large quantities of Roses along with what looks like Asparagus fern. The other photo from around the same time is a little different and features beautiful Cala Lily’s.

My parents married in 1984, and my Mum carried a relatively small bouquet. It featured white Lily’s, roses and carnations along with trailing variegated Ivy. My Mum will be the first to admit that she didn’t like her bouquet, primarily because, despite its small size, it was so heavy due to the use of florist foam.

I loved my bouquet, 2023! It was a beautiful mixture of Mauve , deep pink and peach Roses, Purple Ranunculus, Hellebores, Tulips, Scabiosa, Astrantia. My florist hand-tied it with a small wire mesh at the very center, showcasing another shift in bouquet design. This change reflects a decreasing reliance on florist foam for creating floral designs—a significant step towards more eco-friendly floristry

Looking back at my families’ bouquets, what is clear is that bouquet styles have changed a lot! Not only did bouquets feature much simpler designs, but they also frequently included long cascading elements. In comparison, my bouquet boasted a much more intricate array of flowers in terms of variety and number. I imagine this reflects more varieties being grown today, and it being easier to get hold of them.

What about bouquets of the future?

Well, there is one thing I am pretty sure of, and that’s that wedding bouquets are here to stay! However, I don’t think they will stay the same. I mean, just look at how much they have changed in almost 100 years! Wedding trends evolve from year to year, and even within the year since my marriage, there has been a noticeable shift towards smaller bouquets, particularly for the bridesmaids; they might just be one color or one type of bloom. 

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