Surprise Origins: Why did brides start carrying flowers at weddings?

Traditions are a wonderful thing, but many have bizarre origins. One such practice is that of the bride carrying a bouquet of flowers. Have you given any thought as to why the bride wears white or wondered why a veil is worn? Be prepared to be re-educated as we delve the origins of many of our common wedding customs.

A nice day for a white wedding

Have you wondered why the bride is traditionally dressed in white? Most of us see it as a symbol of purity. The real reason has its roots in superstition. For most cultures, the wedding dress is vibrant and colourful. Westerners appear to have adopted white for two reasons. The first is that white was believed to be the colour to ward off evil. The second reason is that white was popularised by Queen Victoria in her marriage to Prince Albert. At the time, this amounted to a scandal as white, and not black, was associated with mourning. How times have changed!

Why the veil?

In Roman times, the veil was thought to prevent evil spirits from attacking the bride and entering through her eyes before she became accounted for.

In the case of arranged marriages, the veil shielded the bride’s face from the groom. Only once the groom was committed would the veil be lifted. This meant that it would be too late for him to back out of the marriage if he didn’t like the look of her. Thankfully, Western couples usually know each other pretty well before the wedding these days.

Why the bouquet of flowers?

In earlier times, flower bouquets did not consist of flowers. They were made from strong smelling herbs and garlic. These were thought to ward off evil spirits. As with the veil, the practice of carrying a bouquet has its roots in primitive superstitions and has evolved over time.

By the end of the 16th century, brides had taken to carrying bouquets made from sweet smelling flowers for an entirely different reason. People at the time rarely bathed. An annual bath was considered sufficient. By carrying flowers, it was hoped that they would be able to mask their body odours.

Thank goodness, today’s wedding bouquets are not carried for any such reason. Buying wedding flowers online has never been easier too. So load up with an armful of flowers, secure in the knowledge that they enhance your look and that you’ll still smell great after you’ve done the traditional throwing of the bouquet!

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