While modern bouquets of fresh, sweet smelling flowers are the norm, their origins in the wedding tradition may surprise you. While I'll spare the morbid details (weddings are a happy event, after all) - the origins of this tradition dates back to Ancient Greece, and to times of the Black Plague in Europe! Greek bridesmaids would traditionally prepare flowers and herbs, bundling them together to form a garland wreath worn upon the bride's head. I couldn't track down when the transition from the wreath to the held bouquet occurred, but I did find some other interesting trivia. Traditionally, these bouquets were made with garlic and herbs, thought to protect the bride from evil spirits. This practice became especially important to people living in England during the Plague. The bouquets provided great comfort and, as survivors of great tragedy tend to place added emphasis to anything comforting, they became an integral part of many wedding traditions. While the traditional garlic and dill combination isn't very popular, it's hard to find a wedding tradition, especially in western culture, that doesn't have a floral bridal bouquet involved somehow!
Now, in terms of the Bouquet toss, that's another interesting story. In historic Europe, France and England especially, once the Bride was officially married, many times women attending the event would rush the alter, and in an attempt to bring good luck to themselves, rip pieces of the bouquet or dress (!!) from the bride. It's thought that the tossing of the bouquet evolved out of an attempt to placate these single masses looking for luck in love. (Crazy, right!?)
Regardless of creation, the various meanings of individual flowers selected, or the at times morbid history of the bridal bouquet, it's one of my favorite details to capture during a client's wedding celebration.