wedding flowers - Anna Kim Photography

Wedding Flowers | Significance and Meaning

wedding flowers - Anna Kim Photography

Planning for a wedding is a monumental and exciting task for every bride. Details for a perfect day must be meticulously arranged. Specific to weddings are cultures, religions, traditions and romantic meanings. This is especially true for the flowers selected. Flowers may appear basic to all weddings. They are the visually impressive bouquets, centerpieces and backdrops for an adoring bride’s dramatic entrance or whimsical theme. Arrangements in any form are very expensive and strong in tradition. They have a primal and historical significance.

History of Bridal Bouquets

Historians recorded centuries ago that Grecians and other ancient civilizations used a variety of spices, grains, herbs, bulbs, vines and floral elements found in nature. Bridesmaids adorned and honored a bride with a specially woven laurel. It represented good luck, an offering of Mother Earth, continued good health, deterrence of wickedness and fruitfulness. Some natural elements represented wisdom, purity and lust.

A variety of strong herbs, spices and highly scented flowers were used beyond its obvious beauty, symbolism and decoration. It masked body odor.

During the Medieval days, bathing was a rare occurrence among commoners. Soap and scented toiletries were very expensive. It was laborious for most people to draw and carry water from wells. In addition to the task of lugging the heavy pails, it required lots of wood for heating. Bathing was usually practiced every six months. As a result strong body odors were very common.

Weddings historically drew in large gatherings of people. To mask the strong stench of many, including the bride and groom, pungent garlic, spices and herbs were sewn into the wedding gown. In addition to the woven laurel, the bride would carry a bouquet of heady scented flowers. Guests were surrounded by more pleasant floral and herbal aromas.

Over the years personal hygiene improved. Scented flowers, spices and plants were used in weddings for its beauty and symbolic meanings. Globally, variations of bridal bouquets, floral crowns and flowers were used to decorate the wedding party and venue.

Global Wedding Floral Traditions

Some floral traditions are international. Throughout the world, they’ve been adopted and carried over into many present day weddings.

The English introduced flower girls to lead wedding processions. To assure happiness and long life, young girls dropped flowers along the bride’s path.

flower girl

Photo: Anna Kim Photography

The lei and floral crowns are shared among the Hawaiian, Tahitian, Indian and Polynesian cultures. It symbolizes love, harmony, good luck and the blending of two individuals as one. Both the lei and the crown are continuous circles. They represent an unbroken everlasting faithfulness to each other. The floral crown and floral hair arrangements are used in lieu of a veil.

Swedish folklore speak of trolls interrupting weddings. To keep the trolls at bay, groom’s pockets were filled with thyme and young girls carried bouquets of strong herbs.

Popular Wedding Flowers of Today

Advanced agricultural technology and science has provided a large selection of plant life beyond its typical growing seasons. Brides choose from its abundance, varieties, colors and scents. Expensive overnight global shipping allows brides to select from the rare, unique and exotic.

Regardless of its expense, unusual qualities and conventional choices, brides gravitate towards timeless classic wedding flowers. Often selected are floral arrangements with white roses, stephanotis, lilies, gardenias, and tulips. These flowers are gorgeous and filled with meaning. They make stunning and impressive arrangements.


Photo: Gordon Nash Photography


Floral Classics and Meanings

Throughout the world and generations classical flowers hold strong traditions and profound meanings. This is true for the Grand Dame of flowers, the white rose.

White Rose:
The white rose represents purity, true love and strength. It has a mild nostalgic and romantic scent. It’s often selected for bridal bouquets and centerpieces.

The colors of the rose range from white to every shade under the rainbow. Depending on its color meanings vary from lust, jealousy, infidelity, immortality, wisdom to innocence, fascination and healing. Regardless of ancient meanings and traditions, brides wonder towards the array of colors to match their wedding themes.

Roses are in high demand with Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. With its availability, the cost escalates, per stem.


Photo: Kaua Wedding Photography

Stephanotis is among the classics. It has ties to wedding traditions of Ancient Greece. The plant and its varieties are indigenous to Madagascar. The white flower is tubular and ear shaped.

The stephanotis is highly regarded for its meaning of marital happiness and its strong signature scent. The flower is ideal for “Victorian” white weddings.


Photo: Anna Kim Photography

Lilies are among Christianity’s most revered flowers. It’s associated with the Virgin Mary and her qualities. It represents purity, innocence, chastity and virtue.

Lilies range in trumpet size and color. It’s fragrance notes are mild to strong. Ancient Greeks symbolized lilies with the bride’s healthy fertility.

Calla Lily:
Originating from South Africa, the calla lily is a graceful trumpet shaped flower. It’s often bundled to form an impressive bridal bouquet.

The lily is an important symbol of Christianity. It’s believed that as Eve departed from the Garden of Eden, her tears fell upon the ground. Calla lilies grew from the places her tears fell. It also symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus.

The mildly scented calla lily comes in mauve, purple, yellow, pink and orange.
Depending on its color the meanings are joy, grace, refinement, royalty, magnificence, strength, flirtation, and admiration.

Floral arrangements of calla lilies represent statements of regal elegance. The meanings of the white calla lily is purity, honor, innocence and beauty.

Calla Lilly

Photo: Anna Kim Photography

The tulip is known for its Danish influence. It’s simplicity, sturdiness and unusual shape makes its suitable for Spring weddings. It’s centerpieces and bridal bouquets are refreshing.

The unscented tulip has multiple meanings. The tulip comes in a variety of colors. Depending on its color, the meaning reflects abundance, charity, passion and enduring love. White tulips are symbolized with purity.


Exotic Wedding Flowers

Global shipping has opened up the selections of unusual and exotic flowers. Brides can select flowers commonly seen in Hawaiian weddings. Their choices are beautifully arranged into magnificent backdrops, centerpieces and bouquets.

There are many tropical flowers to choose from, most often selected are orchids, protea, succulents, maile and bird of paradise.

The unusual orchids are exotic wonders. The high maintenance flowers are grown in many hothouses around the world. This makes the 25,000 species readily available for weddings.

The ancient Greeks referred to the orchid as, “orchis.” Its translation refers to the male’s testicles. The ancient Greeks believed that the Orchid’s root system resembled testicles. As a result the flower represents virility and fertility.

The orchid also symbolizes luxury and refinement. It’s highly valued among elite nuptials. Displaying orchids at a wedding exhibits exquisite taste.


The protea is an exotic flower that’s indigenous to Australia, South America, Central and South Africa. With over 1400 varieties, the protea has been in existence for over 275 million years.

Florists around the world value the exotic nature of the protea. To address the commercial demand, many varieties are harvested and cultivated in Hawaii and California.

The ancient Greeks named the flower after the eldest son of Poseidon. Proteus was a very wise, intelligent and selfish god. To avoid sharing his knowledge, he would transform his image into many unusual appearances. Like Proteus, the protea has many atypical shapes and colors.

Depending on the varieties and color, the protea has multiple meanings. It commonly symbolizes boldness, courage, transforming and multifaceted. The ornate protea is used in unforgettable bridal bouquets, centerpieces and backdrops.

Pin Cushion Protea

A trendy use of succulents have grown among contemporary brides. They are unusual, arid and eco friendly plants. When incorporated with flowers, make spectacular wedding bouquets, hair pieces, crowns, centerpieces, favors and backdrops.

Succulents are indigenous to dry climates with limited rainfall. They are commonly seen in desserts, low coastal areas and environments with high temperatures. For survival, plants store water in their leaves. These qualities give their meaning of enduring and everlasting love.

The succulents shapes are primitive and bold. Their pastel colors add attractive textures and contrast when mixed with flowers. The fleshy succulents provide organic accents to weddings with tropical, garden, modern and rustic themes.


Photo: Chris J Evans Photography

The maile lei is an iconic symbol of traditional Hawaiian weddings and celebratory milestones. The sacred vine is indigenous to the jungles of Kauai and the rainy forests of the Hawaiian chain. The maile is rare and difficult to harvest. Resulting in a very expensive floral choice.

The vine is made into an open lei also known as, “The Royal Lei.” The leaves of the vine are loosely woven to releases the fresh scent of the vine.

The Royal Lei has historical and powerful traditional roles. It was revered by the ancient Hawaiian Monarchy, ali’is and commoners in religious ceremonies. They used it as a symbol of peace and resolution of conflicts. Kupunas bound the hands of nuptials together in matrimonial commitment. Sweethearts gave each other maile lei as a visible announcement of their courtship and love.

Today maile lei are used in house blessings, ceremonial groundbreaking, graduations, birthdays and weddings. The lei represents royalty, devotion, reverence, peace, love, friendship and respect. These qualities are ideal for casual and formal Hawaiian weddings.


Photo: Trish Barker Photography

Bird of Paradise:
The Bird of Paradise is an unusual multicolored tropical lily. The flower resembles a birds silhouette. It’s indigenous to South Africa and tropical environments throughout the globe. The lilies are rare and costly to ship.

The unscented lilies are sturdy and vary in size. When coupled with other flowers make impressive and unforgettable wedding bouquets and centerpieces.

The meanings of the Bird of Paradise are many. Their impact statements are magnificence, royalty, excellence, success, romance and faithfulness. They are ideal for Hawaiian and tropical themed weddings.

bird of paradise

Photo: Jessica Pearl



Weddings are a couple’s public presentation to family, friends and community of their devotional love and marital commitment. It’s a very personal event which requires meticulous attention to tradition, culture and religion. Crucial to the nuptials presentation, union and message is the selection of meaningful flowers.

The careful selection of floral arrangements, bridal bouquets and backdrops sets religious importance, traditional, cultural and whimsical tones. Flowers showcase the nuptials public presentation, highlights their cultural heritage, enhances their adornments and embraces personal values. Finally, the floral statements make and leave enduring impressions on the minds of every invited guest.

View more beautiful bouquets by visiting our PINTEREST board!

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