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Wedding Flowers: Symbolic Meanings

So roses mean love, tulips mean passion. Want more? Consult our A-Z guide to the symbolic meaning of flowers.

Photo: Wendell Webber

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

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

Meaning: Innocence
Best For: Filler in bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres
Scent: None
In Season: Year-round
Price Range: Inexpensive

Calla Lily

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

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)

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

Meaning: Regard
Best For: Garden settings, in pots
Scent: None
In Season: Spring
Price Range: Inexpensive (in season)

Daisy

Meaning: Share your feelings
Best For: Bouquets
Scent: None
In Season: Year-round
Price Range: Inexpensive (in season)

Delphinium

Meaning: Swiftness, lightness
Best For: Arrangements
Scent: Lightly fragrant
In Season: Summer
Price Range: Moderate

Freesia

Meaning: Innocence
Best For: Bouquets
Scent: Very fragrant
In Season: Spring and summer
Price Range: Inexpensive (in season)

Gardenia

Meaning: Purity, joy
Best For: Bouquets and boutonnieres
Scent: Very fragrant
In Season: Year-round
Price Range: Expensive

Hydrangea

Meaning: Understanding
Best For: Bouquets and arrangements
Scent: None
In Season: Spring and fall
Price Range: Expensive

Iris

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meaning: Bashfulness, the American spirit of ambition and determination
Best For: Arrangements
Scent: Lightly fragrant
In Season: Late spring
Price Range: Expensive

Rose

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

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

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

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

Meaning: Pleasure
Best For: Garden setting, in vases
Scent: Fragrant
In Season: Late spring and early summer
Price Range: Moderate

Tulip

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

-- The Knot

See More: Wedding Flowers