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The Bride's Bouquet

Floral wedding bouquets have been a part of the ceremony for centuries. I thought it would be fun to post about the history of bridal bouquets in honor of Fay and RadioMattM's wedding today.

wedding6.gif wedding.gif wedding5.gif

Before the use of flowers in the bridal bouquet, women carried aromatic bunches of garlic, herbs, and grains to drive evil spirits away as they walked down the aisle. The Roman bride and groom would wear garlands around their necks to symbolise long life and fertility. Traditional Celtic bouquets included ivy, thistle and heather. Over time, these were replaced with flowers, symbolizing fertility and everlasting love. The popularity of each has waxed and waned through the past few decades, each evolving special variations over time.
In the last 200 years, flowers have been an integral part of the entire wedding ritual; but only in recent times has there been such an amazing variety available to the betrothed.

If a bride carried sage (the herb of wisdom) she became wise; if she carried dill (the herb of lust) she became lusty. Flower girls carried sheaves of wheat, a symbol of growth, fertility, and renewal. Later, flowers replaced herbs and took on meanings all their own. The posy had its heyday in Victorian times, when flowers were also the secret messengers of lovers.
Orange blossoms, for example, mean happiness and fertility. Ivy means fidelity; lilies mean purity. Thus bridal flowers were chosen with regard to their traditional significance. Unfortunately many lovely flowers were assigned rather undeserved meanings, such as the beautiful anenome “sickness", delicate purple larkspur “haughtiness" and sweet-smelling lavender “distrust". However, today most brides pick their flowers for colour and personal appeal – it’s hard enough to decide without having to worry that your pretty bouquet announces, “I declare war against you" (tansy).
The posy fell out of favour in the first half of the 2oth century, then very slowly crept back into fashion over the last few decades. Whether the end result is formal or loose and unstructured, there have always been two methods employed by florists to create posies.
Bouquets framed with large turkey feathers fashionable in the 1920's, were the inspiration for this contemporary bridesmaid's posy.
These are ‘natural stems’ (also called hand-tied) and ‘fully-wired’, where the stems of the flowers are removed and replaced with florists’ wire, then constructed into a much lighter posy with an easy to hold handle. As its name suggests, ‘natural stems’ posies look more natural and informal, whereas the latter gives a neat, polished effect.
wedding7.jpg These two looks have been combined in recent years to form a third option called ‘wrapped stems’ – a combination of the two styles where the natural stems are wrapped in a beautiful ribbon or fabric, perhaps even embellished with pearl pins. In fact, the ribbon adorning a bridal bouquet is becoming almost as important as the flowers themselves, due to the popularity of lace, velvet and beading trims in the fashion world.

Strauss Bouquet
This is a natural stem bouquet that is larger than a posy, and is usually arranged in a looser manner with the stems left longer.
bouquet strauss.bmp

Another posy variation is the biedermeier; carefully-arranged concentric circles of colored flowers, each ring containing one type of flower. Originating in Switzerland in the late 1800's, this tightly-structured bouquet often had lemon and orange peels added for fragrance. The biedermeier is showing signs of popularity again due to its dramatic geometry and pleasing symmetry.
bouquet biedermeier2.jpg

The nosegay, traditionally a small bunch of flowers and/or herbs, was resurrected temporarily in the 1980’s as a small, tight posy of small flowers, often backed with stiff tulle. It was extremely popular for flowergirls and bridesmaids, and is now surely due for another revival, perhaps reinvented with softer swathes of organza and larger flowers?
bouquet nosegay.jpg

Muff Bouquet
The muff is for the very individual bride. Far more popular in Europe, where it was born centuries ago out of necessity, a bridal muff is an unusual yet perfect choice for a winter wedding. It can be made by the dressmaker, then embellished with flowers. To continue, but not overdo the look, bridesmaids can wear evening gloves.
bouquet muff.jpg
bouquet muff2.jpg

Floral Pomander
This is a round ball covered in flowers that is suspended by a ribbon (or here, pearls), and worn from the wrist.
bouquet pomander.jpg

Arm Sheafs
Arm sheafs first became popular for brides in the early 1900’s under the name of ‘Bernhardt’ bouquets; inspired by the presentation bouquets given to the actress of the day, Sarah Bernhardt. This shape is held cradled in the arms, or more recently, upside-down against the skirt of your gown. An arm sheaf bouquet is a good choice if you like the natural look of stems but want something a little larger and more dramatic than a posy. Usually larger than a posy, it can be heavier, especially as one arm does most of the holding. The ribbon or binding treatment can be a feature in itself.
bouquet armsheath2.jpg

Composite-flower Bouquet
Almost forgotten, the composite-flower bouquet dates from the early 20th century. Unable to source the wide range of colours and year-round availability found in today’s hybrid roses, florists used this ingenious method of constructing huge ‘roses’ from the petals of gladioli. Then called ‘glameria’, these oversized blooms were worn by themselves on a hat or as a corsage, or several could be fashioned into a bouquet for the bride with an unlimited budget. Although featured recently in the pages of Vogue magazine, this specialized and time-consuming technique may unfortunately never regain its former popularity.
bouquet composite3.jpg

The fan enjoyed a fleeting popularity in the late eighties. Lacy plastic fans were embellished with carnations, baby’s breath and plenty of tizzy ribbon. Around the same time, some unfortunate brides choose to carry flower-filled baskets. The sight of what appeared to be an overgrown flower girl walking down the aisle confused the wedding guests who were already traumatised by the sight of the groom in his pale pink tux. While we may still be trying to forget and move on, it doesn’t take a great leap of faith to imagine a bevy of bridesmaids carrying elegant bamboo fans embellished with jewel-coloured orchids and rich, two-tone ribbon. Perhaps the fan is due for a revival as well?
bouquet fan2.jpg

Crescent Bouquet
A crescent bouquet may be suitable for the bride who wants a small, unusual bouquet with more structure than a posy. It’s perfect for complementing a slim waist and hips as it has a dainty, curved line. Suprisingly, it has never reached dizzy heights of popularity, which means that this bouquet will never date one's wedding photos!

Prayerbook or Bible Spray
The prayerbook or Bible spray is a sign of faith and spirit. A long-time favorite of devout brides, especially Catholics, a small spray of flowers is attached to her prayerbook’s cover. While a traditional choice, it can be designed in a contemporary way. Shane Connolly’s classic book, Wedding Flowers, shows a simply perfect stephanotis version.
bouquet prayerbook2.jpg

Shower bouquets
Shower bouquets replaced posies as the bridal bouquet of choice around 1910. By 1920 this style became quite exaggerated, with larger and larger bouquets almost concealing the bride! 'Lovers’ knots' were incorporated into the design; yards of ribbons streaming out of the bouquet featured knots along their length into which buds and foliage were inserted. Interestingly, the custom of tossing the bridal bouquet to unmarried girls is only half of the original tradition – the catcher of the bouquet was entitled to untie a lovers’ knot and the wish she made was said to come true. Lovers’ knots are the evolutionary forerunner of ‘swing flowers’ – tiny blossoms ‘swinging’ on narrow ribbons attached to a posy bouquet.
After reaching their peak in the 20’s and 30’, shower bouquets all but disappeared by WWII: their generously elaborate style at odds with the austerely simple suits worn by war-time brides. Corsages, now the sole premise of mothers and grandmothers of the bride and groom, were often worn instead of a hand-held bouquet during the war years.

What used to be termed the shower, now became known as the large, multi-trail bouquet, subsequently renamed the princess in honour of the late Princess Diana and her impressive bridal bouquet.
bouquet princess di.jpg
The new, smaller shower bouquet regained top position in the 1980’s, albeit in smaller sizes.
The princess:
The shower then gave rise to the popularity of the similar teardrop, trail and cascade. These are all variations in proportions, with the most contemporary being the cascade. It features waterfall-shaped dimensions, the width across the top not much more than the width below. This gives a more natural, flowing look than the stiff point of the teardrop and a neater look than the trail, which peaked in the 90’s. Their long, elegant line can often be more flattering than the plump, round shape of the posy and complement elaborate and vintage gowns beautifully.

Teardrop Bouquet
This is a traditional and formal style of bouquet and consists of a structured posy top. The trail is very wide and, like its name suggests, becomes a point at the bottom of the trail to form the teardrop shape.
bouquet teardrop3.jpg

Trail Bouquet
The trailing bouquet does not have a rounded top like a posy bouquet, and is relatively narrow from the top down to the bottom of the trail. The trail may be narrow or wide.
bouquet trail2.bmp

Cascade Bouquet
Often known as a multiple trail bouquet, this has numerous trails tumbling from the top of the bouquet. It is often very unstructured in appearance.
bouquet calla teardrop cascading.jpg

Tussy Mussy
tussy mussy.bmp
Bouquet clutch with tussy mussy holder.
bouquet clutch with tussy mussy holder.jpg
Tussy mussies despite their funny names, though, are actually beautiful and elegant flower holders. The first tussy mussies appeared in France during the eighteenth century and were used primarily during the Victorian Era. They recently made a comeback after Oprah Winfrey named them one of her favorite things in a 1999 show.
Beaded bouquet holder.
beaded bouquet holder.bmp
In gold.
bouquet gold tussy mussy.gif
In Victorian times tussy mussies were considered art forms and each one was unique. Tussy mussies can be made from pewter, cobalt glass, silver, gold, porcelain, and even plastic. Of course the finer the tussy mussies make is, the more expensive it will be. They range in price from $25 (plastic) to hundreds of dollars (gold). They are filled with small clusters of flowers that are tied; lace and ribbons can also be incorporated into the tussy mussy.

Floral headpieces and wreaths
A wonderful flower and feather headdress.
bouquet flower and feather headdress.jpg
Mixed flower chaplet.
mixed flower chaplet.jpg
A hand-held wreath accented in stephanotis.
bouquet - hand-held wreath accented with stephanotis.jpg

Congratulations Fay and Matt heart.gif

Posted by floranista on Feb 11, 2006 12:01 am

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