It’s easy to take for granted the wedding traditions we know so well, such as the first dance or tossing the bouquet. But our wedding ceremonies, rituals, and festivities vary greatly from culture to culture, including how we incorporate blooms & botanicals. Today we take a look at some floral wedding traditions from around the world, from competitive garland-giving to double bridal bouquets.
We’ve all seen movies where the bride & groom clank away in their decked out wedding car, but in Italy it’s often a reality for the couple to make their first exit as man and wife in a car covered in fresh blooms. As they drive off to wedded bliss, passersby will honk and shout “Auguri!” to wish the new couple a long and joyous marriage.
Thai floral garlands, called malai song chai, are often worn by both the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. Dating back over 200 years to the reign of King Rama V, who declared garland-making a required skill for the women of the royal court, these garlands range from simple to highly complex. Jasmine is most often used as the core flower, giving the garlands a lovely, strong scent.
In Sweden, the flower girl will carry a bouquet of herbs believed to ward off evil spirits, while the groom carries a sprig of thyme in his pocket for good luck. Another fun fact about Swedish weddings – the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, as they look down on the bride being “given away” by her father and owned by another man.
Jaimala literally translates to “victory garland,” as they were originally used to decorate men returning from battle. Traditionally, the bride places the garland around the groom’s neck as a way of accepting his proposal. The groom returns the gift with another garland called the mangal sutra. At some ceremonies, each person tries to get their garland over their partner’s head first, with friends and family slyly trying to give advantage to their relation. Some say the last to be garlanded will be the dominant member of the marriage. In Northern India, red and whites roses are typical, whereas in the South, marigold and bright orange are the traditional colors of choice.
In traditional Mexican weddings, the bride will sometimes carry two bouquets – one for herself, and one to honor the Virgin Mary, which will be left as an offering in the church after the ceremony. The bride’s madrina de ramo is a girl chosen to carry her second bouquet prior to the ceremony.