25 Popular Wedding Flowers and What They Mean
By Wedding Spot
The world of weddings is packed with symbolism. From the ceremonial ring exchange to the bells that ring out in celebration, you’ll find signs, tokens, and symbols everywhere you look at weddings. Many traditions we’ve come to associate with weddings have deep roots, with some customs originating centuries ago. Much like the aisle the wedding party walks down to the arch that oversees the ceremony, there’s more to wedding flowers and what they mean than it may seem.
In this post, we visit ancient Rome, Japan, Guatemala, Greece, and other destinations to uncover the history and mystery behind the most sought-after wedding flowers. From roses to ranunculus and daisies to delphinium, we explore different species of wedding flowers and what they mean. We discuss the symbolism behind beautiful blooms to help couples, wedding planners, friends, and family choose the best floral display for the big day.
Discover the most in-demand wedding flowers and what they mean
Traditional wedding flowers and what they mean
Roses, perhaps the most popular and romantic flower, kick off our list. As varied as roses are, in color, size, and appearance, so are the ideas they symbolize. They are given to say, “I love you,” “I value our friendship,” “congratulations,” and more. The age and color of the blooms dictate what the flowers symbolize, and roses are known to hold a wide variety of meanings, such as:
• Red rose: beauty, love, romance, and courage
• Red rosebuds: purity and beauty
• Thornless red rose: love at first sight
• Orange rose: desire, fascination, and sensuality
• Peach roses: gratitude and genuine feelings
• Yellow rose: joy, friendship, new beginnings
• Light pink rose: admiration
• Dark pink rose: appreciation and gratitude
• White rose: purity and innocence or silence and secrecy
White rosebuds also represent girlhood, making them common elements in bridal bouquets.
One of the most popular wedding flowers in the world, peonies boast large blooms and come in an array of stunning colors, covering a spectrum of pinks and purples. The peony symbolizes good luck, empathy, wealth, romance, honor, and a long marriage, making it an excellent addition to any wedding celebration.
More commonly called buttercups, ranunculus is a popular ruffled wedding bloom that comes in yellow, pink, orange, red, and purple hues. Blooming late spring to early summer, buttercups are often associated with children and are said to signify friendship, joy, youth, and happiness. They also represent charm and attraction, ideal for young couples in love.
A voluminous bloom native to Asia, hydrangeas have inspired artists, musicians, writers, and legends with their beauty. According to Japanese mythology, hydrangeas represent heartfelt emotion and gratitude for acceptance or understanding. Legend tells the story of a Japanese emperor who became so overwhelmed with his duties and business that he neglected his true love. To apologize to the family of the woman he loved and show his appreciation for their understanding, the emperor showered them with hydrangeas.
Although the blooms come in a vast spectrum of colors, pink hydrangeas are supposed to best represent heartfelt gratitude due to the flower’s resemblance to a beating heart. If symbolism is important to you, avoid blue and white hydrangeas in wedding arrangements, as the former represents frigidity, and the latter symbolizes boasting.
5. Calla Lily
Calla lilies are one of the most interesting flowers on our list due to the contradictory ideas they often represent. A sought-out bloom for both weddings and funerals, calla lilies are purported to represent youth and fertility as well as death. Greek legend tells of the calla lily’s origin, explaining that the flowers sprung from the drops that fell to the ground as Hera nursed young Hercules. From the drops, wondrous flowers sprang, each with a magnificent spike protruding from one exquisite petal.
Dahlias produce intricate blooms of geometric, multilayered petals. Commonly used in weddings, the striking flowers can stand independently, but dahlias also blend well with mixed arrangements and bridal bouquets. For centuries, beginning in the Victorian era, they have been given as celebratory gifts to signify a deep commitment or lasting bond. Giving dahlias can show appreciation, express eternal love, and celebrate diversity.
Blooming from spring through fall, daisies are incredibly accessible and versatile wedding flowers. A sacred flower in Norse mythology, daisies are cherished symbols of the goddess of fertility, love, and beauty. Often given at weddings and to welcome new babies, the flowers also symbolize new beginnings. Inexpensive and decidedly darling daisy buds make perfect fillers in many beautiful bridal bouquets.
8. Lily of the Valley
Blooming in early spring, this dainty, adorable flower symbolizes the return of happiness or happy times. Another flower closely attached to mythology, the lily of the valley is linked to Ostara, the German goddess of fertility. With tiny, bell-shaped flowers, the lily of the valley’s splendid beauty is also associated with royalty, motherhood, and purity.
Popular wedding filler flowers and their meanings
9. Baby’s Breath
Symbolizing innocence, compassion, sincerity, trust, and everlasting love, it’s no doubt why baby’s breath is such a popular addition to floral wedding arrangements. Due to the multitude of tiny flowers present on the plant, it is often referred to as “million stars” in Singapore. A bouquet of baby’s breath represents adoration and the desire to live a fulfilling life—a million days—with the one you love. The bushy growth pattern of baby’s breath makes it an excellent and affordable filler flower for couples looking to save money on wedding flowers.
10. Bells of Ireland
Although the name may suggest their nativity resides in Ireland, bells of Ireland are actually native to Turkey. Named for their common usage in Irish celebrations, like ceremonies and weddings, bells of Ireland are also called “Shell Flowers” because of their shell-like shape. A member of the mint family, this herb displays curious green floral spikes and small white flowers. Often given as a gift, this flowering herb symbolizes well wishes of good fortune for the recipient.
11. Wax Flower
Chamelaucium waxflower is a flowering shrub native to Western Australia. With five waxy petals of pink, white, or purple, the leaves of the wax flower contain oil glands that emit a lovely, fragrant scent when crushed. Striking and affordable, the shrub symbolizes “riches and long-lasting love.”
Frequently used as an exotic wedding filler flower, the brightly colored blooms of the wax flower add vibrancy to any arrangement. The shape and style of the flowers make them ideal additions to boho-inspired events and make whimsical rustic wedding decorations when placed in mason jars.
12. Dusty Miller
A fabulous companion flower and filler for bouquets of roses, peonies, and other delicate blooms, the dusty miller adds a velvety texture to any arrangement. With lacy, ashy gray leaves that resemble sage, dusty miller has long been used in wedding décor. A drought-tolerant plant that produces small clusters of yellow blooms once a year, the herbaceous plant symbolizes industriousness and diligence, making it an apt choice for engaged couples with a strong dedication to their future.
Vibrant wedding flowers and what they symbolize
A vibrant wedding flower with a long history, Europeans and Native Americans used delphinium to produce a spirited blue dye. Derived from the Greek “delphis,” meaning dolphin, delphinium is also called Lark’s Claw, Lark’s Heel, and Knight’s Spur. Teleflora, a major international florist company, states that the dolphin-shaped blooms of delphinium “symbolize an open heart and ardent attachment and convey a feeling of lightness and levity.”
The amaryllis flower is named for the Greek maiden, Amaryllis, who, according to ancient mythology, fell in love with a shepherd named Alteo. Alteo had a passion for flowers but not for Amaryllis, much to her dismay. Upon the instructions of an oracle, the love-struck maiden sacrificed her blood for Alteo.
Each day for thirty days, Amaryllis stood outside Alteo’s house, piercing her heart with a golden arrow. Each time, blood from her pierced heart fell to the ground, and on the thirtieth day, a flower with crimson blooms grew from her sacrifice. Amaryllis gave the flower to Alteo as a symbol of her devotion and the sacrifice she was willing to make to win his adoration. In modern wedding traditions, the eye-popping blooms of the amaryllis flower represent deep love, passion, and attraction.
Bougainvillea is a thorny, climbing ornamental plant native to the tropics. The bold flowers on the fast-growing vine come in vibrant shades of pink, purple, and red. With symbolism that dates back centuries, bougainvillea vines and their heart-shaped leaves represent passion. In the Victorian era, bougainvillea bouquets were given as romantic gifts by those hoping to ignite a passionate relationship with the recipient. Across the world, the flowers also symbolize peace, with many cultures displaying bougainvillea to welcome visitors and celebrate free trade.
Bouvardia is a tropical flowering American herb with flamboyant, tubular flowers that resemble miniature bouquets. The lightly scented trumpet-shaped blooms may be red, white, yellow, or scarlet, and the thinly branching bouvardia represents enthusiasm and versatility. Also called the Hummingbird Flower and Firecracker Bush, this star-shaped wedding flower is the perfect choice for energetic couples with a zest for life.
Orchids are one of the most temperamental flowers used in wedding arrangements, but their beauty makes them popular decorations for many celebrations. There are many species of orchid, ranging from widely available to incredibly rare and exotic. Similar to roses, the color of an orchid has a significant impact on what it represents, with each hue symbolizing different feelings or virtues, including:
• White orchid: purity, rebirth, simplicity, and spirituality
• Purple orchid: royalty and luxury
• Red orchid: lust, love, and passion
• Yellow orchid: happiness, positivity, and friendship
Seasonal wedding flowers and what they mean
18. Sweet Pea
An extraordinary flower, sweet peas typically bloom each year on June 21st, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. Symbolizing good luck and kindheartedness, sweet peas have long been associated with French brides and wedding day well-wishes, but these sweetly scented blooms could cost you a pretty penny at the florist. If you’re planning to have sweet peas present at your wedding, remember that it can be challenging to get the timing right, and when in season, the blooms are often in high demand.
A mesmerizing and towering symbol of the summer sun, sunflowers represent happiness, devotion, loyalty, and adoration. Not only do the flowers look like the sun, but the symbolism attached to the bold blooms is associated with the buds of the sunflower and their tendency to follow the sun across the sky. At weddings, sunflowers represent deep devotion reminiscent of the flower’s dedication to following the sun.
Lavender is a flowering herb renowned for its healing properties. The fragrant purple blooms have anti-inflammatory properties and are frequently used in aromatherapy and holistic healing practices. Said to bring good luck, represent love, and symbolize devotion, lavender’s calming properties can also calm the nerves, helping to reduce wedding stress and settle any pre-ceremony jitters.
A picture-perfect flower that can spice up winter wedding ceremonies, poinsettias are a staple symbol of the Christmas season. Since the flower became associated with the Christmas holiday in Mexico and Guatemala in the 1500s, displaying the flowers has remained a seasonal tradition. Boasting festive red and white blooms with deep green leaves, poinsettias symbolize the miracles of the holiday season, success, joy, and cheer.
Budget-friendly wedding flowers and what they mean
Long-lasting and inexpensive, chrysanthemums are favored amongst florists and budget-conscious wedding planning couples. Signifying the arrival of autumn, the bursting blooms symbolize well-being, friendship, loyalty, and honesty in the United States. In European countries like France and Austria, however, chrysanthemums symbolize mourning and are often associated with funerals or memorials.
23. Queen Anne’s Lace
Queen Anne's lace has enticing texture, volume, and versatility, making it one of the most popular wedding flowers ever. It is rumored that the clustered flower is named for Queen Anne, who legend says pricked her finger while making lace, dripping blood onto the delicate fabric. The purple-red flower in the center of a Queen Anne cluster represents a single droplet of the queen’s blood. Flowers that boast chocolate-colored blossoms are said to symbolize new beginnings and fertility, while the more common white blooms represent grace, elegance, and beauty.
If you’re looking for a way to save money on wedding flowers and still display robust, full bouquets, consider adding Queen Anne’s lace to your floral arrangements. The umbrella-like blooms of Queen Anne’s lace add dreaminess and whimsy to any wedding celebration.
Carnations are inexpensive, widely available flowers, making them popular for weddings and couples planning on a tight budget. Often used in bouquets and boutonnieres, carnations are also the traditional first anniversary flower, as they symbolize commitment and dedication. Some scholars believe their name originated from Greek coronation traditions, as the flower was used in the creation of ceremonial coronation crowns. Red carnation blooms symbolize deep love, while white blooms represent pure love.
Due to their sword-like shape, gladioli received their name from the Latin word “gladius,” which translates to “little sword.” In ancient Rome, gladiators wore the gladiolus in battle, as the flower was believed to protect one from death. As a result, the gladiolus has become a symbol of strength, integrity, and faithfulness.
Some of these affordable flowers can be great options if you’re planning to DIY your wedding flowers—just make sure you know what to do with the flowers after your big day. If you’re planning to use a florist, they should be able to help with this; but adding affordable flowers will still help you keep costs under control.
Now you can identify wedding flowers and what they mean!
Now that you know what popular wedding flowers represent, you can choose the ultimate assortment for the big day. Design a wedding that embodies joy, love, happiness… or all of the above. Tell a story, display passion, or offer best wishes for the future with your wedding floral arrangements.
Fans of tradition, history, and symbolism will enjoy learning about another cultural wedding tradition: handfasting ceremonies. The poetic ritual, which centers around the literal and metaphorical binding of newlyweds, has a long history. Join us as we explore the ancient tradition and examine its influence on modern wedding culture.