Monday, November 17, 2014

Wedding Crap: The Bouquet

(See introduction and disclaimer to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

What is the tradition? 

The bride carries a bouquet of flowers while walking down the aisle; as does each bridesmaid. During the ceremony, the bride generally hands hers to the maid of honor to hold during the ceremony, so she has her hands free for exchanging rings and such. 

(The bouquet - or a second "toss bouquet" - is often tossed to guests during the reception, but as that goes along with the garter toss, I'll discuss it in a separate post.)

What is the origin of the tradition?

The bride's bouquet began not as bunches of flowers, but bunches of herbs and spice, including dill and garlic. The aromatic bouquets were intended to ward off evil spirits. Eventually it morphed to include flowers, and in the Victorian era each flower was selected for its meaning in the "language of flowers". 

Why do people still follow it?

I think similarly to the dress, a big aspect of it is just it being an unusual extravagance, that can be justified by the Tradition of Weddings, a feeling of participating in a more luxurious existence for a day. 

I've also heard it justified as necessary for the bride to have something to hold, and keep her hands occupied while walking down the aisle, and particularly for the bridesmaid to have something to hold during the ceremony.

Why is that crap?

Actually, in this case, I think it's primarily just a waste of money, more than an indication of a deep-seeded patriarchal issue. Particularly when you've already spent so much money on attire and appearance otherwise, do you really need to add yet another visual element to distract from your expensive look?

Although if women need something to keep their hands occupied - why don't the men?

What am I doing with this tradition?

Nothing whatsoever! No flowers! (Well, it was important to my MIL for the parents to have corsages, so we had those, but nothing else.) We didn't have an aisle to walk down, and during the ceremony we held hands, the microphone, and our notes with what to say. So no need for anything to carry.

Photo by Stephanie Kaloi

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.


  1. I've learned so much about the history behind weddings since you started this series! The most horrifying has definitely been the history behind the groomsmen kidnapping the bride so that her family didn't rescue her - after learning that I just can't imagine ever having groomsmen at my wedding.

    I wonder if the 'keeping the hands occupied' bit for the bride is to alleviate nerves since she is the "center of attention" on the wedding day and has to walk down the aisle and whatnot when the groom typically just stands at the alter. I think I would have a bouquet if I walked down the aisle simply because I'm usually unsure of what to do with my hands in those kind of situations. I'm usually worried I'm going to start swinging them back-and-forth like a kid skipping around a playground. Of course if I *did* accidentally do that at my wedding... well it's my party and I'll swing my arms if I want to!

    1. You can totally swing your arms and skip at your own wedding if you want to. :) But why is the *bride* the center of attention more than the groom? ;) That's what I want to know!

  2. We did bouquets but did NOT do the bouquet/garter toss because it just seemed like something arcane and also would cut into drinking/party time. (My MOH was a bit mortified we didn't do it though! Haha.) But I think the flowers helped add a splash of color to the scene and looked great in the photos.

    1. Fair point, that they add color. I'm personally not big on the aesthetics of flowers in general, but if one is, that seems like good reason to include them at one's wedding!


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