Wednesday, May 4, 2011

the language of flowers

Of the many details from last week's royal wedding, I was particularly intrigued by the attention paid to the meaning of flowers. According to the official website, Kate’s bouquet, designed by Shane Connolly, was comprised of flowers chosen for their significance to the families of the bride and groom and their meanings according to the Language of Flowers ~ lily-of-the-valley: return of happiness; sweet William: gallantry; hyacinth: constancy of love; ivy: fidelity, marriage, wedded love, friendship, and affection; and myrtle: an emblem of marriage and love.

When I put together my own bridal bouquet, I admit that I did not pay any attention to the meaning of the flowers included. So, curious to know the message carried in those blooms I turned to the gentleman’s extensive library of Victoriana which (naturally) includes a book on deportment, a whole chapter devoted to the Language of Flowers.

The translation:

* white roses: pure love
* ranunculus: radiant charm
* cosmos: beauty (derived from the Latin "kosmos")
* astilbe: “I'll still be waiting”
* blue thistle: austerity, independence, and nobility

Also in the mix were leaves of dusty miller and sprigs of silver brunia berries, which as far as I can tell have no assigned meaning. All together, I think the symbolism is quite perfect. Incidentally, my two matrons-of-honor carried bouquets comprised of the same flowers, but instead of the chocolate cosmos and astilbe, I included white and brown Queen Anne's Lace, signifying "haven, or protection" (rather appropriate, no?).

And what would a groom be without his boutonnière? The gentleman wore a blue thistle with leaves of sage, meaning "domestic virtue and wisdom," and thyme, signifying "thriftiness." After our ceremony my niece stuffed a bright pink clover flower in with everything. Clover, meaning "to live a carefree life of ease, comfort, or prosperity." She may not have realized it, but she gave us a most wonderful wedding wish!

(photographs by Kate Headley)


Style Court said...

Remarkable how spot-on the symbolism of your wedding flowers turned out to be.

I think I love lily-of-the-valley even more now that I'm acquainted with the meaning.

smilla4blogs said...

Oh how I remember that morning with buckets, overflowing with blossoms, (and one very lovely and focused bride-to-be!) Your post brings back such happy memories and I agree, the symbolism is perfect. What would we ever do without the gentleman's library and research skills?! xo

Inkslinger said...

Oh I love that bit about your niece and the pink clover . . . just wonderful! (and what a great pic of you and the gentleman!).

Ever since that tragic scene in Hamlet when Ophelia talks about the meaning of the flowers she's handing out, I've been interested in the various meanings of certain flowers (comes in handy for writing, too!) so I love, love, love this post. Now, if only I could remember the meanings.

pve design said...

I love the message and symbolism associated with flowers and also knowing that the origin of the bouquet was to bring heady scents to the bride in a time where hygiene was not first and foremost. We are blessed to have both today with all the potions and blossoms.
My bouquet was gardenia's, steffenatos and just like my Mom's - she will celebrate 63 years this August so I guess they must have some good meanings.

Janet said...

Courtney ~ being an autumn bride did rule out quite a few of my favorite flowers. Lily-of-the-valley for one!

Mom ~ I loved arranging the flowers! Such fun!!

Inkslinger ~ so easy to look them up online:

pve ~ my mother carried both of those in her bouquet. Very traditional: gardenia means "you are lovely" and stephanotis means "happiness in marriage."

home before dark said...

Love the ex post facto review and the reassurance that the flowers knew all along what they were saying was right and true. This is one my favorites of your wedding pictures showing the shared happiness and the looking forward together.

Anonymous said...

The language of flowers is "heard" throughout the world. Remember the marigolds at my wedding? Perhaps I should try and grow some in my garden....~MIR

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful, Janet. KDM

Emile de Bruijn said...

What a charming dialogue between appearance and meaning.

Janet said...

hbd ~ I would have felt horrible if I had chose something horrible (like basil!!!).

MIR ~ Of course I remember the marigolds! The western meaning: Mary's gold. A very special flower it seems in all cultures. And excellent in the garden.

KDM ~ thank you!

Emile ~ so glad it worked out that way.

Rebecca said...

Janet you wedding is so beautiful! I first came across it on Kate, the photographer's blog. And now on Snippet & Ink I read that you had your beautiful dress made! I am in Washington DC and I am also thinking about having my wedding dress made. Could you pass along the maker's name? Thank you!

Janet said...

Rebecca ~ thank you so much! My dress was made by Roya at Elegance Boutique on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. If you email me: jblyberg (at), I will send you the details.

Kitchen Benchtops said...

You are amazing and I love everything you do, you are an inspiration. have a great and blessed day!