In the middle ages, people stank. Harsh, but true. Really, up until the end of the 19th Century, and even into the 20th Century, people’s attitude and access to cleanliness was very different to now. Depending on the era in history the custom of carrying a bouquet changes slightly, which means the history behind this wedding day tradition isn’t as clear cut as some of the others, however there is a continuity to the theme, which is that the bridal bouquets purpose was to mask odour.If you were to ask your parents or grandparents how often they used to wash when they were younger, it is quite likely they will tell you that they always had to wash their hands before dinner, but they only got a full body wash once a week. Go back a bit further, and people didn’t wash monthly let alone weekly! In the 15th century people took their annual bath in May. For this reason, weddings tended to happen in June. This is why late Spring to early Summer is the traditional time of year for getting married. Getting married the month after your annual bath, helped you to be smelling fresh on your wedding day. As an extra insurance to make sure the Groom thought the Bride smelt good, she would carry a posy of herbs and flowers.
Ditch the Scented Candle and use Herbs Instead
I’ve read many articles about how a couple should chose a wedding scent for their day through the choice of scented candles which will be lit during the ceremony and the wedding breakfast, to help cement people’s memories of your day. The idea is that whenever they smell that scent again they will remember your day. This idea is good in theory, especially as many people choose to have candles as part of their inside decorations (venue permitting). But, what if your venue don’t allow candles? Or, what if you don’t want candles? Or, perhaps, like my husband and I, the scent you like is a popular and commonly used scent, meaning it won’t be uncommon enough to fulfil its purpose of reminding you and your guests of your wedding day whenever you smell that scent?
This is where garden herbs could stroll in as your perfect saviour. If you’ve ever run your hand through fresh herbs you will know that just by moving the leaves with your fingers they give off their wonderful herby scent, and that scent lingers on your hand afterwards.
Like flowers, herbs have meanings attached to them, so when selecting the herbs you would like to use in your floral arrangements you may wish to take some consideration to the meanings they hold.
Rosemary — Remembrance and Fidelity
Sage — Wisdom
Thyme — Courage
Dill — Lust
Lavender — Virtue and Devotion
White tulips and baby’s-breath (Gypsophila) compliment a herb arrangement beautifully and are a double bonus for those on a small budget as these are low cost flowers. Carrying herbs in flower could be a wonderful way of paying a nod to the ancient tradition, whilst having a beautiful bouquet that also smells nice. Have you ever seen chive in flower? I have and the big circular purple flowers that grow on chives are beautiful. Thai Basil has a licorice scent and has reddish-purple flower spikes in the late summer. Dill flowers lots of tiny delicate yellow flowers. I love the idea of including mint in table decorations because of what a lovely fresh scent it has, but to make the scent a bit more memorable I’d choose chocolate mint herb plants.
Sarah Brunton had herbs in her floral arrangements when she got married on 4th August this year …
“In all the bouquets, buttonholes and centre pieces we had herbs added. It started whilst I was looking through Pinterest for inspiration and found some buttonholes with lavender and rosemary in. I’m not overly fond on strong floral scents and I thought this would be a wonderful way of getting some fresh scents into the flowers. The florist I used was amazing at suggesting some herbs we used. In the end we had; lavender, rosemary, mint, thyme and oregano in the bouquets and centrepieces, with rosemary, lavender and cornflowers in the buttonholes. I love using herbs in cooking and I try and keep a few bee friendly plants in our garden, so having so many bee friendly flowers on the day was a lovely nod. I even had a little bee hitchhiker for the main photos. The bouquets scent kept fresh all day and I would really recommend using herbs as greenery. I also think (although have no experience) this would be great for a DIY bride. They look so effective.” – Sarah Brunton
The picture used for the header image was taken by Berkshire based photographer Lisa of ‘Lisa Lucas Photography‘ who so sweetly allowed me to use the picture for this post.
Both Lisa and Alice are fantastic photographers so please do go and check out their sites.