Thousands of people get married everyday, all over the world and each couple has the free will to choose what elements and practices to have within their wedding ceremony. The presence of flowers and music is a almost a necessity within all modern weddings. But where do these practices come from? Let's take a look!
Music and Flowers
The presence of music at a wedding dates back to the days when noise was considered to keep evil spirits away. Now music adds solemnity, praise and joyous celebration to the wedding ceremony. Not only is there traditional music played at weddings, but non-traditional, such as the tying old cans to the back of the couple's getaway car. This is also considered music and was done to frighten the devil away from the newlywed couple.
Flowers became a custom long ago within wedding ceremonies. During the Middle Ages, noble brides wore their finest jewelry on their wedding day, but peasants wore their favorite flowers, often times in the form of a garland. In ancient France, the father of a girl with no dowry would tell prospective grooms that her fortune would be her garland. The garland was a tribute to her virtue. Nowadays the amount of flowers at a wedding is seen as display of the father's fortune, rather than the bride's virtues.
Flowers carry symbolic meaning. For example, orange blossoms are an emblem of fruitfulness, baby's breath stand for fertility and rosemary for remembrance. Greeks used ivy as a symbol for indissoluble love. Today wedding flowers still bring a message of fertility, enduring love and bounty. Yet modern florists see brides picking flowers based on color schemes or personal preference more often rather than the meaning behind the flowers.
Why do brides then carry a bouquet of flowers down the aisle? It was the Victorian's that took the garland and made it into a bouquet. Also, the Early Roman brides carried bunches of herbs under their veils to symbolize fidelity and fertility and to ward off evil. This shows the transition of flowers as jewelry to the flowers being held in the bouquet; although it is common today for brides to have flowers in their hair as well as in their bouquet.
Within wedding history, mothers took flowers and decorated the bride's house and the groom's house with olive and laurel leaves as symbols of virtue and abundance. This practice was perhaps a forerunner of decorating the altar in the church with flowers and greenery. In present wedding ceremonies, wedding guests expect to see the wedding altar or wedding stage decorated beautifully with flowers and greenery.
In the past, wedding guests scattered flower petals from the house of the bride all the way to the church. We can now see this tradition being exhibited through the flower girl. As a young girl (usually wearing a dress resembling the brides) walks down the aisle before the bride, she will take flower petals or something resembling them and toss them to the ground, to pave the way for the bride, as part of the processional.
Currently, at a traditional western wedding ceremony bridesmaids and the groom have flowers too. This is because "early bridesmaids' bouquets were made out of pungent herbs such as rosemary and garlic, not flowers. The smell was supposed to drive away evil spirits eyeing the bridal party. Today, most brides are not worried about evil spirits and do not choose to have pungent bouquets for their wedding party. This would bring an element of imperfect to their special day. Rather, they choose flowers based on elegance and appropriate color theme to suit their personalized wedding. -The Royal Engagement-