SAY IT WITH FLOWERS
When choosing the flora to adorn your special day, aesthetic is the obvious decider. However, what you may not have considered are the meanings attributed to certain flowers and what each variety represents. Camilla Stephenson speaks with Peta Longman, the owner of Balshaw’s Florist, to explore the language of flowers and how you can make a declaration of love with your bouquet.
Flowers have always played a significant role in society’s gatherings. Whether positioned at centre stage or softly decorating the background, they’re used in ceremonies around the world, particularly in weddings.
Whether you love the beautiful smell of roses, or daffodils are reminiscent of a farm you visited as a child, floral arrangements can be chosen for various reasons. However, what lies beneath the aesthetic of a flower is an international dictionary representing emotions that can transcend any heartfelt speech.
Think of a time when you were lucky enough to receive a bouquet of blooms, and surely your body fills with the warmth of the sender’s love. Whether they’re positioned to complement a venue, or sprinkled along the aisle by the flower girl for the bride to walk along, flowers are abundant on your special day. Therefore, the bouquet you carry down the aisle to your future groom-to-be should be one filled with love and excitement, and there are plenty of flower varieties that have a secret romantic meaning. Did you know that adding baby’s breath to your arrangement is said to bring everlasting love, or that a touch of honeysuckle can symbolise devotion? Similarly, a red rose signifies passionate love, and from a daffodil spills the promise of new beginnings. Your special day should be personal and sentimental, so if you can’t decide which varieties to include in your floral arrangements, just ask your florist!
A calla lily is said to symbolise beauty, while a carnation will bring devotion and deep love to your marriage. If you or your partner has overcome a difficult obstacle in life, try to incorporate a single protea into your arrangement as it’s said to represent courage. Further, an extremely popular flower of choice among engaged couples is the chrysanthemum, and for good reason. The beautiful bloom symbolises joy and happiness, which certainly fits the bill when marrying the love of your life!
THE OVERALL LOOK
More than likely, couples will be more focussed on the visual appeal of the bouquet rather than an individual flower’s meaning. “Most requests [we] receive regarding specific flowers are more about the look of the flower and how that portrays the couples theme, rather than what the flower means,” says Longman. “We don’t usually receive requests for specific flowers with regards to their meaning in general. However, we do sometimes receive requests from engaged couples regarding flower specific flower varieties due to the memories the couple may have attached to them or the personal meaning they have to the couple.”
An extremely popular style of bouquet is the posy. In the Victorian era, the small arrangement was considered an eloquent reminder of love for the recipient.
Much smaller in size and generally featuring a rounded top and ribbon-wrapped stem, a posy bouquet is a popular choice for brides-to-be. The arrangement is fairly structured, with stems either wrapped in or completely replace by florist’s wire, which creates a more formal look. Though peonies and heliotrope are popular in posy bouquets, the sky is the limit when it comes to choosing your blooms!
Although there are many precious memories that should be remembered, it’s the unpleasant ones that we try to forget. Since the use of flowers is so prominent at certain ceremonies, such as funerals, some varieties are associated with grief or death and thus should be avoided.
On occasion, a request to avoid a certain flower can come from a cultural background where superstitions are high or traditions have been followed for centuries. Since white chrysanthemums are most associated with funerals in Korea, it’s believed that Korean customers tend to avoid using them at weddings. Likewise, white flowers are associated with death in Chinese culture, so couples prefer to incorporate red blooms into their wedding as they symbolise happiness and good luck.
Image credit: Kevin McGinn Photographer
The power of love is so strong that it can transcend borders. When two people from different countries become married, it can be impractical or extremely expensive to host a wedding at each destination. However, to pay homage to the bride or groom’s background, certain flowers are able to bring ‘a touch of home’ to the wedding ceremony.
A sprig of eucalyptus or a blooming waratah will instantly remind an Australian of their home down under, much like a tulip will invigorate memories of windmills and stroopwafels to any Dutch native getting married on our shores. Modern technology may be innovative in the world of weddings, but nothing holds memories of home like a native flower.
No matter what prompted you to choose a particular flower, Longman stresses the importance of conducting plenty of research on your favourite blooms before booking an appointment with your florist. “Our advice is to use the internet as a guide, to find styles and types of blooms that [you] love, but to [also] talk to [your] local expert about what is seasonally available at the time of the wedding,” she says. “Very often, couples have researched images online and have their heart set on a specific combination of flowers, [only] to find out it isn’t achievable or… within their budget. It’s great to find inspiration to help a florist understand what they are looking for, but they need to use this in conjunction with the florist’s expertise find the perfect fit for their day.”
Finally, despite the fact that there are many aspects to consider when deciding on your wedding flowers, Longman believes the arrangement should simply reflect your signature style. “All of our couples inject their personality into their floral arrangements,” she says. “We work with [them] to custom design a ‘floral recipe’ of varieties that they love, in colours [and] themes that they love.”