Wedding Traditions – Why Does The Bride Carry A Bouquet?

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Why does the bride carry a bouquet? The origin of this tradition is a little blurred…. One of the reasons that brides carried bouquets was born out of the ‘necessity’ of covering odor, trying to smell pretty on that special day.  Ever take a tour in one of the older cities in Europe, let’s say Edinburgh for example?  It was a very odiferous lifestyle way back then!  In the 1600’s and for a very long time afterwards, people bathed extremely infrequently. According to the Huffington Post, during the 15th century, people took their yearly baths in May and would generally get married in June. Just to be safe, brides carried bouquets to mask the smell of body odor.  You will find this reason repeatedly if you research the tradition behind the bride carrying a bouquet. Another old and popular custom for carrying a bouquet, was to ward of evil spirits.  Usually these bouquets were made from very pungent herbs, spices and yes, garlic could be involved.  I am thinking that you could kill two birds with one stone with a garlic bouquet; evil spirits and evil odor could be knocked out with one bouquet! Oh the old days!  Sometimes the spices/flowers that were included in the bouquet, for example; dill and marigolds (edible) were added and subsequently served up at the wedding feast to promote lust.  So think about the fun that you can have with your bouquet! I will paraphrase what I recently read in “Herlife” Magazine with regard to the tradition.  “In ancient times, a bride was considered especially lucky on her wedding day.  So, guest were compelled to tear off parts of her dress to obtain a good luck talisman for themselves!  Not all brides cared for this activity, as it seamed unpleasant to have their clothing ripped from her bit by bit, compliments of the guests.  So it evolved, that the bride outsmart her guest by giving an offering of herself; enabling a guest to obtain a lucky talisman and allowing herself to keep her clothing intact: she starting throwing her garter and bouquet in lieu of pieces of her dress.”

I was glad to find this article, because it now explains to me some of the crazy bouquet grabbing, or should I say tackling behaviour that I have witnessed at some of my family and friends weddings! Somewhere around the 1700’s brides started carrying pretty bouquets, because:  bouquets are pretty!  and, this tradition is still in style today.  bouquets bring beauty, elegance, a touch of the color scheme, and a bit of the old custom to your day.  There are many florist to shop for your flowers, if you are looking for a good florist here in the Evergreen, CO area, check out Stems,  I simply must mention them here, because I have seen some really creative, elegant, and impressive flowers at some of the weddings that we have photographed, all compliments of this designer.   But, I digress.  So, bouquets:  they also may be used to express yourself through the flowers themselves.  Roses represent everlasting love, lilac is for first love, Stephanotis is good luck, ivy says fidelity and on and on.  You can really add some beauty and say a lot about yourself with a bouquet. This custom seems to have evolved quite a bit from its origin, but todays tradition for the bouquet: added beauty and personal expression.

19 thoughts on “Wedding Traditions – Why Does The Bride Carry A Bouquet?”

  1. A bath once a year! How in the world did they have the stomachs to procreate? How could a woman last a year considering 12 monthlies? I cannot believe that women endured that! Men probably did not bathe. I suppose Dirty Sally of Gunsmoke is a fine example of a yearly bather.

    1. I know!!! I took a tour in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the tour discussed the bathing and toilet hundreds of years ago. Daunting. The morning breath alone….bwa ha ha. You had to brush your teeth with a stick…what is that going to do?! Blick. I had the same thoughts that you expressed!

  2. This is complete and utter nonsense. Did they bath once per year? They did not have showers like we do today and the average person did not have a tub at home they could submerge themselves in. Instead occasional trips to the sea or a river where one could be submerged helped and they gave themselves frequent sponge baths.
    The flowers were not about smell they were about virgins. They represented the brides “flower basket” which is why the unmarried women (virgins) were gathered in to a group and shortly after the wedding ceremony the bride threw her flowers into that group. The bride-now wife no longer needs her virginity=flowers.

    Finally most weddings in those days were June or July because people were traveling on foot or horse back. You don’t want your guests to have to ride in the snow or rain to get to the wedding.

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