Flowers a Bride Should Carry
By Martha Coman
Flowers always been pre-eminently a symbol of nature’s bursts of joy, and for that reason, perhaps, more than any other, excepting their own beauteous excuse for being, they have been used lavishly for all festive occasions. But there is no one time when flowers are so universally called upon to play an important part as in the month of June, for then it is that the carved arches of the church and the walls of the home echo back the triumphant notes of the wedding march. There is but one thing fairer than a perfect day in June, and that is a June bride, clad in shimmering satin and crowned with folds of frosty lace.
The flowers the bride shall carry is a question to be decided by her own individuality, for every girl has her favorite, and her wedding day is a welcome opportunity to make her choice a public one. The bride’s bouquet is not invariably of pure white, though the paler colors are more effective and much more acceptable than the deeper ones of red or pink. Lilies-of-the-valley made up into one of the beautiful shower bouquets are about as appropriate for the fair maiden as anything, though there are innumerable combinations possible in the way of orchids and violets.
The shower bouquet is rarely successfully turned out by an amateur, and those persons who save the last sweet service of personally arranging the bride’s flowers for their own fingers had best not attempt much in the way of a shower. But the palest of pink roses or the beautiful bride roses are at hand and can be easily arranged. The sweet, old-fashioned white lilac is a most acceptable flower to use when the bouquet is put together by loving hands rather than by busy professional ones, and it lends itself easily to an admirable result.
White orchids combined with the delicate green of the Farleyencis fern make a stunning bouquet, especially when the whole is tied lavishly with broad, soft velvet ribbon that matches exactly in shade the delicate petals of the rare exotic. This flower and fern, put together in the form called the “Princess Plume” bouquet, is a most beautiful and effective accessory to the bride’s attire.
The violet cuff bouquet was a fad for a time, as was also the Du Barry collarette of the same modest but popular flower. The collarette and cuff effects were generally used only for the bride’s attendants, the bride herself carrying a huge shower bouquet of white violets. Leghorn hats of white, lavishly decorated with pink roses and tied on with broad streamers of ribbon to match, are very pretty for bridesmaids, and it is then a most effective idea to have the attendants carry only large bunches of waving, feathery, maidenhair fern. Wild sweet-brier roses and apple blossoms are very lovely for floral decorations, but they are rather difficult to manage when it comes to the bouquets, and so they are both more popular for wall and aisle decorations.
Marguerites are pretty for the little pages to carry, and they are also most effective for banking chancel rails and the like. One extremely pretty wedding occurred not long ago, at which marguerites were extensively used, as this was the bride’s favorite flower, and also because she was a Marguerite in name.
The pages, two boys and two little girls, carried straw hats tied in the form of baskets and swung over the arms of the children with broad streamers of ribbon. The hats were filled to overflowing with the nodding field flowers, and after they had been decorously carried up the aisle to the altar, and when the ceremony had been performed, the little tots walked down the aisle ahead of the bride and groom strewing in their path the blossoms from the basket hats. It was done so solemnly and so sweetly by the grave-faced children, and was in itself so tenderly significant, that many a spectator found himself looking on with dimmed eyes.
Another most effective idea in the way of a novelty is that of having the bride’s attendants carry shepherds’ crooks, the long, graceful affairs painted pure white, and to each one tied a beautiful bouquet of Mermot roses. From these depend sweeping streamers of white velvet ribbon. The effect is extremely beautiful. When orchids of a pale and most delicate tint are tied with velvet ribbons it is often the fad to have the streamer ends embroidered in the same tints.
Gardenias and violets are a lovely combination, though it is generally the custom to use either the one flower or the other. A bridal bouquet has a certain sweet dignity of its own, and this must not be encroached upon by any injudicious combinations of colors. The “plume” bouquet is one now very popular, and its name really indicates its peculiar shape. The plume is built, not as a round or shower bouquet is, but the plume is made to lie along one’s left arm, the heavy heads of the long-stemmed roses lying over the crook of the elbow, and the stems crossing the front of one’s gown. Sweet peas, the long-stemmed variety, are very stunning made into a double plume, or with great bunches of the flowers at both ends, and when this is the case the centre is carefully wrapped with wide ribbon, which hides the stems successfully and leaves only the pretty blossoms in sight.
At one of the early spring weddings which occurred while the lilacs were still in full bloom, the bride carried a beautiful loose bunch of pure white lilacs, relieved only by the subdued green of their own pretty leaves, while her attendants carried great bouquets of the same flower, but in the purple shade. Great branches of the same old-fashioned flowers were fastened about the altar rail and lined the aisle, and the clean, spring-like fragrance was everywhere.
Perhaps, when it comes to the last word concerning the flowers for the bride, and unless her individual taste is rather out of the ordinary, there is nothing lovelier for the maiden than a great loose bunch of the real bride roses, those heavy-headed white flowers that are at once so lovely and so symbolical.
Frank Leslie’s Weekly, 24 July, 1902
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: In some families there exists the custom of including a sprig of myrtle, symbol of love and constancy, in the bridal bouquet.
A pretty German custom that is beginning to be observed here is to plant a spray or two of the bridal wreath when it is made of natural flowers. The wife of a well-known German citizen, full of this tender sentiment, brought with her to this country a flourishing little plant grown from her own myrtle wreath. A little while ago her daughter was married and her wreath was composed of the starry blossoms from her mother’s carefully tended shrub. Omaha [NE] World Herald 17 August 1891: p. 3
All royal brides who are related to the Queen have a sprig of myrtle on their wedding day that is cut from a particular tree. This tree was grown from a slip sent from Germany for the bridal bouquet of the Princess Royal, and the tree it was cut from dates back to the time of the Crusaders. Otago [NZ] Witness, 30 December 1897: p. 43
As for shepherds’ crooks for the brides-maids, they are (Mrs Daffodil has personally observed) deadly in the wrong hands, so perhaps the less encouragement they receive, the better. As this 1890 article observed:
Bridesmaids have not yet learned to carry their canes as gracefully as Watteau’s creations handled the insignia of their pastoral calling. Let me advise any lady desirous of adopting this fashion at her own wedding to see that the bridesmaids are well-drilled previous to the ceremony, so that uniformity in the carriage of the canes may be observed.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.