Everything You Need To Know About the Bridal Bouquet (2024)

The bridal bouquet is a collection of flowers held by the bride as she walks down the aisle. It's meant to be a complementary addition to the overall theme of the wedding and the style of her dress.

But why do brides carry flowers? More than just something to keep a bride's hands busy when she walks down the aisle, the bridal bouquet ties all of a wedding's design and decor together. It’s an accessory, a focal point, and one of the first peeks guests get into a celebration. So if you're a bride-to-be, deciding what you’ll carry as you make your way to the altar is actually pretty important.

Meet the Expert

The variety of flowers will differ as will the size of the bouquet. There are some instances in which the couple foregoes the tradition altogether. Wherever you land on the matter, there are often questions that arise, like, well, do I have to carry one? What should I do with the flowers after the wedding? And where did the tradition originate?

Ahead we talk to wedding florist Maxine Owens to learn why brides carry flowers and the history behind the bridal bouquet tradition.

The History and Meaning of the Bridal Bouquet


"The practice ofbridescarryingbouquetsdates to antiquity," Owens tells us. "Ancient Greeks and Romans, even Egyptians, carried fragrant herbs and spices to ward off bad luck during weddings." Though the floral garlands worn by both the bride and groom and small posies of old paled in comparison to the grand bouquets we've come to know, the flowers symbolized a new beginning and brought hopes of fertility, happiness, and fidelity. Additions such as dill (considered to be an aphrodisiac), rosemary to represent loyalty, wheat for fertility, ivy for an unbreakable bond, and thistle, thyme, heather, or basil for protection were common.

Middle Ages

Another big reason brides originally started carrying bouquets centuries ago was because of the perfume of the flowers, which masked their body odor (you know, back when bathing wasn't such a frequent occurrence) or the surrounding smell of death during the plague. If bodily odors weren't a factor, pungent additions like garlic and spices were added to the arrangements to ward off evil spirits and keep away any bad luck (or curses) that may bid the newlyweds harm.

This was also the beginning of the bouquet toss tradition. Touching the bride or, better yet, running off with a piece of her wedding dress was considered to bring good luck and an impending proposal of one's own. The bouquet toss was invented as an escape strategy, both distracting and satisfying the frenzied mobs of young ladies so the bride could leave without being harmed.

Elizabethan Era

The Elizabethan era is when bouquets began taking on their more decorative purpose. Small bouquets became a bridal must-have and posies were even created to give as favors to guests. Fashionable brides began wearing complementary flowers nestled in their elaborate hairstyles for additional flair. Prior to this, brides would wear their hair flowing and sometimes accent with a small floral circlet (the humble predecessor of modern flower crowns).

Victorian Times

"It wasn’t until the Victorian age that we see the birth of the weddingbouquetas we know it today," Owens says. "While flower symbolism was hugely popular then, andbrideswere able to communicate their romantic sentiments through their specific floral choices, that practice has faded a bit, with modern couples choosing their flowers based more on beauty and color."

Modern Day

Since today’s brides aren’t so concerned with hiding an unpleasant smell or keeping evil spirits and frenzied mobs at bay, the bouquet’s main purpose these days is to be a beautiful accessory and amplify the rest of the wedding decor. However, the symbolism and meaning of certain flowers still exist—perhaps not to the botanist extent of the Victorians—and guide some bouquet choices to this day.

Bridal Bouquet FAQs

What kinds of flowers should I use?

This part can be overwhelming, but a lot of the time, the kinds of flowers you choose comes down to three things: personal preference, the color theme of your wedding, and the time of year it's taking place.

What style bouquet should I have?

"There are no 'wrong'bouquetstyles," Owens says. "Whether it’s traditional, loose and organic, minimal, or even non-floral, our advice is to choose what feels comfortable and what reflects a couple." When it comes to the size of the bouquet,she adds that it should be proportionate to the bride, "to make sure sheisn’t swallowed by one too large or the impact is not there with something too small."

Should it complement my wedding dress?

Owens says the final design of the bouquet has a lot to do with the design of the gown. "A sleek, clean-lined gown perhaps calls for a more minimalbouquet, so as not to overpower the dress," she says. "Likewise, a larger ball gown might be able to handle a larger, more elaboratebouquet."

No matter what the style of the bouquet is, one thing to keep in mind is balance in size, color, and types of flowers used.

How much does a bridal bouquet typically cost?

It typically ranges anywhere from $150 to $350, but that doesn't include flowers for everyone else in the wedding party. You can learn more about those additional floral costs here.

Who else in the party needs flowers?

If you’re opting to outfit everyone with flowers, it's typical to have bouquets for your bridesmaids; a basket of petals, nosegay, or flower crown for your flower girl; wrist corsages, nosegays, or floral clutch clips for female family members (like mothers, grandmothers, and sisters); and boutonnieres for the groom, groomsmen, ring bearers, ushers, and male family members (like fathers, grandfathers, and brothers).

How do I differentiate between bouquets?

Most commonly, brides opt to have their ‘maids carry a slightly smaller version of their own bouquet, sometimes designating a certain flower to appear in the bridal bouquet only. You could also choose a variety of blooms for your own bouquet and then have each bridesmaid carry a single bloom or a few stems of a single variety. Another great option is to play with color, either adding an additional tone to your bouquet or having one be quite bright while the other is more muted.

Do I have to toss my bouquet?

No. After putting all that work into designing the perfect photo-worthy bouquet, the thought of throwing it over your head can be totally heartbreaking. Also, many female wedding guests have expressed intense aversion to the entire practice of the bouquet toss, so you may want to save them the ordeal. If you do decide to do a bouquet toss, either ask your florist to create a smaller (and less expensive) nosegay for you to throw, or grab one of the bridesmaid's bouquets. The smaller style will be much easier to throw and less dangerous for those trying to catch it.

What should I do with it after the wedding?

If you’re attached to your bouquet, look into options for having it preserved. You can press a few of the blooms in a book, dry the flowers and place them in a shadow box, or have a professional preserve it for you. Otherwise, stick the stems in a vase, and pop by your local florist for flower food to add every few days to keep the flowers alive as long as possible. Then relish in the pictures from your photographer.

Bridal Bouquet Alternatives

"Not everybridechooses a traditional roundbouquet, and that’s okay because there are lots of other equally elegant options," Owens says. "Asymmetric shapes, smallerbouquetsresembling posies, cascading designs, are all beautiful and appropriate. The elements used can go far beyond basic roses and peonies. Tropicals, dried floral elements, and interesting color combinations create uniquebouquetstatements."

If you want to buck tradition even further, you can opt to hold a single bloom, make your way down the aisle with your pooch on a leash, or leave your hands empty so you can grab your parents for that important walk. Owens adds, "Lanterns, floral wreaths, paper flowers, wearable live floral pieces, like statement necklaces and dramatic headpieces, could be fun options for thebridehoping to skip the traditionalbouquetaltogether."

100 Bouquet Toss Songs to Consider for Your Wedding Reception

Everything You Need To Know About the Bridal Bouquet (2024)


What is the purpose of the bridal bouquet? ›

The bridal bouquet is more than just something to keep a bride's hands busy when she walks down the aisle. It is an accessory, a focal point, a hallmark, and one of the first peeks guests get into a celebration. As with no other element, the bouquet speaks of the bride's personality, character, and tastes.

What determines how the bridal bouquet should look? ›

Decide on the Best Shape

For example, if you have a mermaid or form-fitting silhouette, then a narrow bouquet may complement your form and highlight the dress's shape. On the other hand, if you have a ball gown or Cinderella-style dress, then a fuller, more dramatic bouquet would look beautiful alongside it.

Who pays for the bride's bouquet? ›

The groom's family provides the person flowers involved in a wedding ceremony. That includes the bride's bouquet, the groomsmen and usher boutonnières, and the corsages and mini bouquets for the both mothers and grandmothers.

How many flowers go in a bridal bouquet? ›

Smaller bouquets only need a handful of flowers, while more elaborate styles will require more blooms. For flowers that are between 2.5”- 3.5” in diameter, like roses, dahlias, or peonies, we recommend using at least 25 stems for a 9” bouquet and at least 35 stems for an 11” bouquet and add some greenery leaves.

How important is the bridal bouquet? ›

What does a bouquet symbolise and why do brides carry bouquets. Flowers have been a key part of the bridal look since the ancient Romans started to carry and wear floral garlands to their nuptials as a symbol of fertility, fidelity, and new beginnings.

What does the bridal bouquet symbolize? ›


Wedding bouquet is considered to bring happiness and satisfaction in marriage, while the ribbon with which the bouquet is tied with symbolizes fellowship. Tradition of wearing decorations (usually made of same flowers) on groom's lapel first appeared in the Middle Ages.

What color bouquet should a bride carry? ›

You cannot go wrong with white wedding flowers – they always look good against a colored dress. Or go with a monochromatic color scheme and use flowers that are shades of the color of your wedding dress.

How to choose the perfect bridal bouquet? ›

Think About Your Wedding

Dress is vital: consider the style, neckline, and overall silhouette of your gown when choosing the shape and size of your bouquet. If your dress is simple, you can opt for a more elaborate bouquet. If your dress is detailed, a more simple bouquet may be a better choice.

Is $1500 enough for wedding flowers? ›

Aim for 8-10% of total wedding spend towards your overall flower budget. This typically hovers around a couple of thousand dollars. A budget of $1,500-$3,500 is considered realistic or reasonable for average-scale weddings of 100 guests, allowing creative diversity without excess.

What happens if a girl catches the bride's bouquet after a wedding? ›

At the end of a USA wedding and maybe other countries, the Bride throws her Bridal Bouquet to the single women, like the Bridesmaids, and whoever catches the Bridal Bouquet is supposed to be the next lucky girl to get married.

Who catches the bouquet of the bride? ›

After the 'I dos' or when the reception party is coming to an end, all the single women in the wedding party gather and the bride tosses the bouquet over her shoulder. The woman who catches the bouquet is said to be 'next in line for marriage'.

What does 12 roses in a bouquet mean? ›

12 roses: A bouquet of 12 roses is a romantic way to express your love. The number 12 is often associated with completeness and perfection, and is a way to show the person you care about that they are the one and only person in your life.

What does 5 flowers in a bouquet mean? ›

5 flowers: Happiness, goodness, and luck. There is even a saying, “Five blessings on your doorstep!” in some cultures that accompanies giving a five-flower bouquet.

What is a good size for a bridal bouquet? ›

Wedding bouquets can range from a smaller size of 6″-7″, up to 11″-12″ wide, as well as a length up to 18″-20″. One important thing to note is that most brides prefer their wedding bouquets to be larger than those of their bridal party. After all, this is YOUR day!

What is the story behind the wedding bouquet? ›

“The origin of the bridal bouquet stems back to Rome when bridal couples would weave greenery and blooms into garlands and crowns scented with roses or orange blossoms, adding herbs to honor the gods and promote fertility and good fortune,” says Valerie Ghitelman, vice president of product development, sourcing, and ...

What is the purpose of flower bouquet? ›

To Communicate Emotions

Whether its love, joy, affection, appreciation, sympathy, romance or apologies; flower giving communicates the deepest feelings in the most elegant manner. It's been said that no tradition is as effective in communicating human emotions as gifting flowers or bouquets is.

What does getting the bouquet at a wedding mean? ›

Updates aside, the bouquet is still thought to represent good luck and fortune. It's said that if you catch the bouquet, then you'll obtain this luck, with the added superstition that you'll be the next person within the group to wed.

What is the significance of the bride throwing the bouquet? ›

The wedding bouquet toss is a tradition that dates back to the 1300s in England. The bride tosses her bouquet to unmarried women during the wedding reception and whoever catches it is said to be the next in line to wed. The bridal bouquet toss meaning is symbolic of fertility and good luck.

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