Symbolic Meanings of Wedding Flowers

So roses mean love, tulips mean passion. Want more? Consult our A-Z guide to the symbolic meaning of flowers.
Symbolic wedding flowers and centerpieces
Photo by Melanie Duerkopp

Did you know that magnolia means love of nature and stephanotis signifies marital happiness? During the Victorian era, The Language of Flowers created an ultra-romantic language for lovers' correspondence in which flowers replaced words. If you want to suffuse your wedding flowers with symbolism, check out our guide to the most popular wedding flowers and decide which messages move you most. Happy gathering!

Anemone

White anemone bridal bouquet

Meaning:

Expectation

Best For:

Bouquets and arrangements

Scent:

None

In Season:

Fall (Japanese) to spring (Wood or De Caen)

Price Range:

Moderate

Floral Fact:

Anemones bloom in either single or double blossoms

Baby's Breath

Baby's breath boutonniere

Meaning:

Innocence

Best For:

Filler in bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres

Scent:

None

In Season:

Year-round

Price Range:

Inexpensive

Calla Lily

Dark plum colored calla lily bridesmaid bouquet

Meaning:

Magnificent beauty

Best For:

Bouquets and arrangements

Scent:

Lightly fragrant

In Season:

Spring and summer

Price Range:

Expensive

Floral Fact:

This large tropical flower is very popular in weddings.

Carnation

Orange, pink, and red carnation pomander wedding decor

Meaning:

Pink represents boldness, red symbolizes love, and white indicates talent. Some other colors have negative connotations (see below).

Best For:

Bouquets, boutonnieres, and arrangements

Scent:

Very light fragrance or none at all, depending on variety

In Season:

Year-round

Price Range:

Inexpensive

Chrysanthemum (or mum)

Autum colored chrysanthemum ceremony aisle decor

Meaning:

Wealth, abundance, truth

Best For:

Bouquets and arrangements

Scent:

None

In Season:

Year-round

Price Range:

Inexpensive

Floral Fact:

Mums come in several varieties, which determine their size and color. The name literally means "golden flower."

Daffodil

Daffodil thank you favors

Meaning:

Regard

Best For:

Garden settings, in pots

Scent:

None

In Season:

Spring

Price Range:

Inexpensive (in season)

Daisy

White and yellow daisy aisle decor

Meaning:

Share your feelings

Best For:

Bouquets

Scent:

None

In Season:

Year-round

Price Range:

Inexpensive (in season)

Delphinium

Tall delphinium reception table centerpieces

Meaning:

Swiftness, lightness

Best For:

Arrangements

Scent:

Lightly fragrant

In Season:

Summer

Price Range:

Moderate

Freesia

Freesia braidal bouquet

Meaning:

Innocence

Best For:

Bouquets

Scent:

Very fragrant

In Season:

Spring and summer

Price Range:

Inexpensive (in season)

Gardenia

Gardenia bridal bouquet

Meaning:

Purity, joy

Best For:

Bouquets and boutonnieres

Scent:

Very fragrant

In Season:

Year-round

Price Range:

Expensive

Hydrangea

Eucalyptus and red hydrangea aisle decor

Meaning:

Understanding

Best For:

Bouquets and arrangements

Scent:

None

In Season:

Spring and fall

Price Range:

Expensive

Iris

Tall iris reception table centerpiece

Meaning:

A message of faith, wisdom

Best For:

In arrangements or potted

Scent:

Fragrant

In Season:

Spring

Price Range:

Moderate to expensive, depending on variety

Floral Fact:

Irises come in several sizes; they are usually blue or white, but you may find exotic varieties (including purple ones).

Lilac

Purple lilac and tulip bridal bouquet

Meaning:

Love's first emotions

Best For:

Filler in arrangements or as part of bouquets, depending on variety

Scent:

Very fragrant

In Season:

Local lilacs are available in the spring; imported French lilacs are available year-round

Price Range:

Moderate to expensive

Floral Fact:

The local lilac is grown like a bush, and is used as filler because of its greenery. The French lilac is more flower-like and can be used as such in bouquets and arrangements.

Lily

Lily centerpience in wooden box

Meaning:

Majesty, truth, honor

Best For:

Bouquets and arrangements

Scent:

Fragrant

In Season:

Summer, but often imported during other seasons

Price Range:

Moderate to expensive

Lily of the Valley

Simple lily of the valley bridal bouquet

Meaning:

Happiness

Best For:

Bouquets, in combination with other flowers

Scent:

Fragrant

In Season:

Spring and summer

Price Range:

Expensive

Floral Fact:

These small, fragile, bell-shaped flowers are considered traditional marriage flowers.

Magnolia

White magnolida bridal bouquet

Meaning:

Love of nature

Best For:

Arrangements

Scent:

Depends on variety

In Season:

Spring and summer

Price Range:

Expensive

Floral Fact:

Magnolias are more common in Southern-style weddings, as most magnolia trees grow in the South.

Orchid

Tall purple orchid reception centerpiece

Meaning:

Love, beauty

Best For:

Bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres

Scent:

None

In Season:

Year-round -- almost always imported

Price Range:

Expensive

Floral Fact:

This exotic flower comes in a variety of colors and sizes.

Peony

Classic white wedding cake with bright pink peonies

Meaning:

Bashfulness, the American spirit of ambition and determination

Best For:

Arrangements

Scent:

Lightly fragrant

In Season:

Late spring

Price Range:

Expensive

Rose

White rose bridesmaids bouquets

Meaning:

Love, joy, beauty

Best For:

Bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and arrangements

Scent:

Lightly fragrant to very fragrant, depending on variety

In Season:

Year-round

Price Range:

Moderate to expensive

Floral Fact:

Roses are the most popular wedding flowers.

Stephanotis

White stephanotis boutonniere

Meaning:

Marital happiness

Best For:

Bouquets and arrangements

Scent:

Very fragrant

In Season:

Year-round

Price Range:

Moderate

Floral Fact:

These trumpet-shape blossoms are traditional bridal flowers, no doubt due to their meaning.

Stock

White stock flower ceremony decorations

Meaning:

Lasting beauty

Best For:

Filler in arrangements

Scent:

Very fragrant

In Season:

Year-round

Price Range:

Inexpensive

Floral Fact:

Stock can be found in many colors to complement and fill out arrangements.

Sunflower

Sunflower decorated wedding ceremony arbor

Meaning:

Short-stemmed sunflowers mean adoration; long-stemmed sunflowers symbolize haughtiness

Best For:

Carrying a single stem down the aisle; potted arrangements

Scent:

None

In Season:

Fall

Price Range:

Inexpensive to moderate in season

Sweet Pea

White sweet pea reception table decor

Meaning:

Pleasure

Best For:

Garden setting, in vases

Scent:

Fragrant

In Season:

Late spring and early summer

Price Range:

Moderate

Tulip

White tulip bridal bouquet

Meaning:

Love, passion

Best For:

Arrangements and bouquets

Scent:

None

In Season:

Late spring

Price Range:

Expensive

Floral Fact:

These sweet and stately flowers can be found in a myriad of colors, but they are very fragile.

Unfavorable Flowers

It's sad but true: You might want to avoid certain flowers (if you're superstitious, that is). On the other hand, you can always thumb your nose at history and ascribe your own meaning to these "questionable" blooms. Here are the so-called negative indicators:


  • Christmas Rose: Scandal
  • Fig: Idleness
  • Foxglove: Insincerity
  • Larkspur: Infidelity
  • Lavender: Distrust
  • Marigold: Grief
  • Mulberry: I shall not survive you
  • Raspberry: Remorse
  • Red Carnation: Alas for my poor heart
  • Red Poppy: Consolation
  • Rhododendron: Danger
  • Striped Carnation: Refusal
  • White Poppy: Sleep
  • Yellow Carnation: Disdain
  • Yellow Chrysanthemum: Slighted Love
  • Yellow Lily: Falsehood
  • Yellow Rose: Jealousy

Photo Credit: Wendell Webber

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