The tradition of the bride carrying flowers as she walked down the aisle dates back to ancient times when women carried aromatic bunches of herbs and grains as it was believed that these would ward off evil spirits, bad luck and ill health. Some of the most common herbs were garlic, rosemary, chives and dill, the latter often chosen as it has powers to promote lust.
Welsh brides used to give myrtle to their attendants for their bouquets, as it was believed that if the attendant planted it and the plant grew, the grower would be married. In Ireland, lavender is a traditional herb often used in the bouquet.
Flowers have special meanings in other cultures. In Hawaii, the bride and groom wear leis and newlyweds in India wear floral headdresses.
Scattering of Flowers at the Church
Flower girls first appeared in the middle ages, bearing wheat to symbolise fertility. Wedding flowers are scattered by a young girl preceding the English bride and her wedding party, expressing hope that the bride's path through life will be happy. In France, as the newly-wed couple depart from the wedding site, laurel leaves are scattered in their path.
When a knight entered a tournament, it was customary for him to wear a flower or a colorful handkerchief belonging to their fair lady. The tradition later evolved to the groom wearing a single flower from his bride’s wedding bouquet.
Tossing the Bridal Bouquet
The tradition of the bouquet toss stems from early days in England when it was considered good luck to take home a piece of the bride’s attire. Guests would fight for bits of the bride's clothes, flowers or headpiece to share in the good fortune. This developed into the bride throwing her bouquet (to the single ladies) and the garter (to the single men).