Choosing your wedding bouquet can seem overwhelming: there are so many different shapes, styles, and colors of flowers to choose from, and when they are assembled into a bouquet, a flower that you wouldn’t normally pick becomes a beautiful focal point. So let’s look a little deeper into flowers and their symbolism, which can change depending on the color of the bloom. And don’t worry if the name of each flower doesn’t sound familiar…we included pictures courtesy of our partners at fiftyflowers.com.
Roses: Ah, the classic flower used to represent romance and, as such, a wedding classic as well. But did you know there are several different breeds that are associated with weddings? Hybrid tea roses are the ones you typically see at your local florist, uniform in shape and subtle in scent. Spray roses feature 5-10 small blooms on each stem and are ideal for a Woodland or Bohemian theme because of their organic shape. Garden roses are the Rolls Royce of roses, showcasing large, open heads and delicious scent.
Roses are very versatile, pairing well with virtually any other bloom on the planet. They are also fairly sturdy which enables them to do well in boutonnieres and corsages, and helps them stand up in sculptured centerpieces and décor.
While roses in general symbolize romance and love, each color can also have additional meaning. Pink indicates admiration and appreciation, white indicates purity, yellow symbolizes friendship, and a red and white combo symbolizes unity.
Hydrangea: Symbolizing perseverance, hydrangeas can stand alone in a simple mason jar for a Rustic look, or add texture to an expensive centerpiece for more of regal impression. Because of their volume and moderate price, they can stretch your floral budget without looking sparse and complement many other types of flower shapes.
Hydrangeas range widely in color, depending on the acidity of the soil in which they are grown, thereby offering plenty of choices to fit your color palate. From bubble-gum pink to deep burgundy, sky blue to navy, soft greens to bright white to intense purples, hydrangeas offer versatility in bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces. An added bonus: hydrangeas don’t pack a lot of scent, a welcome relief for anyone with allergies.
Tulip: Commonly associated with the Netherlands, the tulip is actually native to Persia, and the most common variety to floral shops and gardens is the Dutch tulip. The French tulip features larger tapered blooms, longer stems, and a higher price tag. Parrot tulips are noted for intense colors and ruffled, striped petals. Fringed tulips boast frilly-edged petals, similar to the parrot tulips, but come in softer colors. Double tulips offer a less traditional fuller shape with two layers of petals and are available in a wide variety of colors as well as fringed and smooth petal shapes.
All of the breeds work well in bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces.
In addition to the distinct shapes, tulips offer a wide range of colors. While tulips in general represent consuming love and happy years, each color carries additional meaning – pink means caring, purple indicates royalty, red is a declaration of love, yellow means hopelessly in love, and white indicates forgiveness. Because they offer so many options, tulips can enhance casual settings, rustic and woodland themes, as well as elegant weddings.
Calla Lily: With its distinct, trumpet-shaped flower, the calla lily is downright regal in its representation of magnificent beauty. The calla comes in two sizes – the large-headed variety with a long stem, perfect for bouquets and table arrangements, and a smaller version that lends itself beautifully to boutonnieres. The most popular color for calla lilies is the elegant creamy ivory, but they also come in yellow, orange, mauve, and royal purple. With its popular depiction in Art Nouveau, the calla is a fabulous feature in an Art Deco themed wedding, but also enhances a beach wedding.
Lily of the Valley: One of the more expensive floral options on this list, lily of the valley features small, delicate bell-shaped flowers dangling from thin, delicate stems. The small blooms lend whimsy to a woodland or rustic theme, or can soften a post-modern or industrial setting. Because of its fragility and high price tag, a fistful of lily of the valley may not be an economical choice, but a few sprigs can be worked into bouquets or centerpieces to enjoy its unmistakable fresh perfume. While most people envision lily of the valley with white flowers, it also comes in a rosy-pink hue, which is very rare and even more expensive than the white.
Peony: The peony became a symbol of bashfulness in the Victorian era, however in modern times it symbolizes happiness. Due to its short growing season, the peony is a pricier pick for floral arrangements, but the size and volume of each bloom of soft, fluffy petals mean fewer are necessary to fill out a bouquet or centerpiece; if used more sparsely, they can still offer delicious scent. And they are grown in single- and double-flower styles, peonies are available in two main types – the herbaceous variety lasts longer after being cut than the tree peony. The softer colors of peonies can punctuate a pastel color palate with enough drama for contrast without becoming distracting, perfect for woodland and shabby chic themes.
Ranunculus: In the Victorian language of flowers, ranunculus tells your partner that they are radiant and you are dazzled by them. Ranunculus is less common than roses or peonies, but is a very cost-effective alternative to both in terms of having a similar bloom shape. Sturdy enough to be used solo in boutonnieres, it is also versatile and delicate enough to feature in bouquets and nosegays along with other flowers or greenery. Each stem boasts several blossoms and fern-like foliage, making it easy to assemble dynamic centerpieces with just a few stems. Typically seen in paler shades like whisper pink and delicate creams at weddings, ranunculus is also available in bolder colors that run the gambit from bright orange to deep purple.
Stephanotis: Stephanotis features dainty, star-shaped white flowers with very little scent. The base price is modest because these are generally available year-round, but since this flower grows on a vine, expect to pay for labor as each stem must be individually wired or otherwise prepared for arrangement. It is a very classic and traditional choice for bouquets and boutonnieres alike, symbolizing marital happiness and good luck. Stephanotis blends well with other flowers and offers texture to bouquets, or can be arranged into a ball for décor. The delicacy of the tiny flowers lends well to woodland and whimsical themes, as well as romantic and classic ambiances.
Sweet Peas: With a strong sweet scent, sweet peas are delicate-looking flowers that are more rugged than they look, making them an old-fashioned favorite for bouquets. An Italian flower adored by the English, sweet peas indicate lasting pleasure and range from white to soft peaches and pinks to intense purples and reds. They are moderately priced, and their ruffled blossoms pair beautifully with less expensive blooms that balance their intense fragrance in centerpieces.
Gardenia: The gardenia’s sultry, intoxicating scent can easily become overpowering, but a single bloom floating in a low glass bowl in the middle of a table can exude understated elegance and beautiful simplicity. Grown year-round, this wide, multi-petal flower is relatively expensive, delicate, and easily bruised. Consider using gardenia as an accent in a bouquet, contrasted by its dark green leaves and offset by scentless greenery or flowers, or as a single blossom in a hair accessory; the waxy leaves should support the miniature version of the bloom in a boutonniere, as well. Luckily the ivory color of gardenia can suit many themes, from rustic to modern, industrial to vintage.
Orchid: The term “orchid” refers to many different species of flowers: cymbidium is popular despite its expense, mostly green, and durable until it meets cold weather; dendrobium has a sweet scent and is instantly recognizable for its use in Hawaiian leis; oncidium “sprays” come on long slender branches; vandas display a rare bluish purple in the summer; phalaenopsis’ white and purple combination is popular and widely recognized because this is the most common variety found as a house plant, making it more affordable. Popular for beach or tropical weddings, orchids represent delicate beauty, luxury, nobility, and charm, and offer a wide range of colors in greens, whites, purples, pinks, and patterns. Given the multiple blossoms per stem, orchids are fabulous for cascading bouquets or centerpieces.
Anemone: The most popular wedding shades of the anemone are white and blush pink, which are set off by the striking dark center of the flower. Unscented and shaped how you and I both drew all flowers in grade school, they create a whimsical element to any arrangement, but create an enchanting bouquet or centerpiece when paired with soft round blossoms like ranunculus and peony. Greek mythology holds that these flowers sprouted from the blood of Adonis, Aphrodite’s (the goddess of love and beauty) lover, adding to the fatalistic romance whimsy. In addition to the subdued white and blush hues, anemone can parade vibrant shades of red and purple, perfect for a punch of color.
Carnation: The carnation recalls every prom corsage, but should not be dismissed when it comes to wedding flowers…it is sturdy, readily available, and ridiculously affordable. Generally symbolizing fascination and marital bliss, pink blooms indicate gratitude, white symbolizes remembrance and innocence, and red can be flashy but also show admiration. The carnation’s clove-like scent adds some spice to the air without overpowering other flowers. The versatility of large single blossoms and miniature spray varieties, 300 or so different species, in literally any shade you can imagine…the possibilities are endless, from flower balls to centerpieces to garlands to floral curtains and backdrops. Because it is a durable flower, the carnation can be the focal point of a boutonniere surrounded by more delicate buds, and because it won’t break the bank, carnations can add a punch of color or filler around more expensive or delicate blooms.
Daisy: Does it get any simpler than the daisy, and the days of plucking the petals playing “he loves me, he loves me not” as a kid? Super affordable and super available, the whimsical and innocent note of daisies can punctuate rustic- and vintage-themed weddings with beautiful simplicity. If the usual white or yellow isn’t in your color scheme, these youthful blooms can come in a rainbow of colors (courtesy of the gerbera varietal which, grown in the hottest climates of Asia and Africa, offer bright orange, pink, red, and yellow) and varied sizes.
Baby’s Breath: One of the biggest floral trends of the pas few years, baby’s breath is more than just a bouquet filler. The tiny, delicate flowers on each stem can make a very light-weight, elegant, and budget-friendly bouquet on their own, or can make centerpieces affordable AND chic…whhaaaaaat? Baby’s breath symbolizes festivity, so its appearance in weddings is only fitting. And while the flower is naturally white, it can be airbrushed to match any shade. Even if it only plays a supporting role in boutonnieres, bouquets, or table-scapes, these little blooms are pretty rad.