Romantic wedding customs, rooted in herbal lore, are being revived by modern brides who cherish the sweet and sentimental feelings fragrant herbs and their symbolism can evoke. Offer your guests a glimpse of the past by incorporating these charming traditions into your own celebration.
A favor of gilded rosemary for remembrance, the bridesmaid who snips a piece of myrtle from the bride’s headdress to root in her garden (perhaps to wear on her own wedding day), the notion that a sprig of ivy woven into the groom’s boutonniere will keep him faithful — all are long-forgotten traditions which are now being rediscovered.
Herbs and flowers were once utilized as a form of communication, a practice which originated in Persia but also flourished with the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. It was the Victorians who brought the practice to a high art. Many books were published during this period describing the hidden meaning of just about every herb and flower imaginable. The use of flowers as a subtle means of communication became very popular with this reserved society which found it difficult to express thoughts and feelings directly.
For example, friends parted by difficult circumstances could send or receive a small bouquet called a tussie-mussie which might include herbs and flowers like zinnia (missing you), peppermint (warm feelings), chamomile (energy in adversity), and clover (for luck).
In another instance, a gentleman could express his thoughts toward a lady by sending her the message, “you are radiant with charms” (ranunculus), “I declare my love for you” (red tulip), “my intention is marriage” (myrtle). She could either decline his sentiments or perhaps respond, “my happiness has returned” (lily of the valley), “I am in agreement with your intentions” (phlox), but “I am a little shy” (peony). The gentleman would then know how to proceed. Thus, flowers were able to convey a symbolic message in a sweet and subtle way.
As in courtship, the Victorians used flowers and herbs extensively in their wedding celebrations. This art is easily incorporated into modern wedding festivities. Floral arrangements, bouquets, corsages, and table decorations can all be augmented with herbs. It is especially nice to receive a bouquet with symbolic meaning. Anyone you wish to honor might be the recipient of a fragrant expression of your thanks or good wishes.