Bright yellow and blue wildflowers in bud vases with tapered candles on a long wedding dining table.

Popular Wedding Flowers and their Secret Symbolism

A guest blog by Millie Fuller - Creative copywriter and self-confessed coffee addict at Content 'n' Coffee...

If you're gifted a bunch of flowers, you'd dig out a decent vase and begin trimming the stems while saying thanks. But in the 19th century, you might have paid closer attention - the choice of stems could be a sneaky secret message.

Indeed, Floriography was a form of communication in those times. Each flower, type and colour represented a different sentiment. This meant the flowers present (and not), plus and the way they were arranged could send a complex message. Thus, nearly all homes in the Victorian era had a guidebook on the subject.

Some meanings were ‘rooted’ in mythology. For example, narcissus and self-obsession. Others ‘grew’ from the properties of the flowers themselves. Colour, medicinal value, and beliefs helped build the language of flowers.

Fast forward to today and we've all but lost this knowledge... or so you'd think. In fact, the most common wedding flowers all carry symbolism around love, luck, and beauty. Perhaps it’s not gone, so much as hidden.

Read on to discover some of the most popular wedding flowers and their symbolism.

Artificial red rose winter wedding bouquet my Unfauxgettable


Perhaps the 'queen of flowers', roses appear in art and literature throughout history. While the general idea is that red roses symbolise love and passion, each coloured rose has a different meaning.

Depending on their depth, roses can denote the degree of love or purity. For example: 

·        Burgundy - Unconscious love

·        Deep red - Bashful

·        Pink - Perfect happiness

·        Red - Passionate love

·        White - Purity and spirituality

·        Yellow - A love based on friendship

·        Red and white combined - Unity


We can’t talk about wedding flowers without mentioning the popular peony! A beautiful complement to roses, the peony’s delicate look makes it perfect for Spring and Summer bouquets.

Legend has it that the peony came about when Aphrodite turned Paeonia into the flower. She was said to be so beautiful that she caught the eye of Apollo, which made Aphrodite jealous. Perhaps this is how in Victorian floriography, the pink peony symbolised bashfulness.


At the beginning of spring, tulips bloom. Hence their modern symbolism as rebirth and new growth. In fact; many charities use the tulip flower to represent them.

However, during the Victorian times, tulips were all about love. From red (a declaration of love) to yellow(hopeless love). Even a tulip of differing colours may have been used to say 'what beautiful eyes you have!’

White tulip and Lily-of-the-valley simple bridal bouquet

Lily of the Valley

The Lily of the Valley is a flower of legends. In fact, it's said that these little flowers formed from Eve's tears when she left the Garden of Eden.

Throughout history, the flower has symbolised many things. But during the Victorian times, it represented are turn to happiness.


In the 19th century, the dahlia expressed commitment and appreciation between loved ones. A red flower, in particular, symbolised elegance and dignity, and was given in gratitude.

Its long-lasting blooms and extended flowering season earned it the title 'Queen of the Autumn Garden' -another reason for its association with lasting bonds and commitment.

Dahlia and alstroemeria bouquet with eucalyptus and skimmia


Lilacs have a distinct fragrance that can last for a long time. They are also known to live up to 100 years old. Perhaps this is why widows would wear lilacs as a symbol of their "old love" and memories of it in the 1800s.


The small, camellia-like Ranunculus is famous for both its medicinal properties and bright petals. It comes in many colours, from white to vivid pink, red, yellow, and orange. 

Legend says that a mythical Coyote had his eyes taken by an eagle. Unable to see, he created new eyes from a buttercup - hence the Ranunculus' other name, "Coyote's eyes".

Unlike other flowers, the Ranunculus has only one meaning: "you are radiant with charm". So, if you want to tell someone that they have dazzled you, give them a bouquet of these blooms.

Orange and white faux ranunculus buttonholes with skimmia, waxflower and ferns.


The meaning of the carnation varies by colour, but at its core, it represents love.

A bouquet of multi-hued carnations symbolises pure love. Pink carnations represent remembrance("I'll never forget you"), and purple carnations are for unpredictability.


Orchids were supremely luxurious in the Victorian age. To this day, they're difficult to grow and care for, but this made them all the more rare and valuable back then. Reserved only for the wealthy, there was an almost obsessive desire to collect them. The condition even had a name - "Orchidelirium".

To satisfy this, wealthy collectors would hire teams of orchid hunters, who'd travel the world to find and bring them back to London.

While orchidelirium might not be a thing anymore, people still enjoy collecting them. (I particularly like the pink ones, meaning “belle”.)

Adding sentimental stems

The average wedding now costs around £25,000 with 8% of that being spent on flowers and decorations. But you don’t have to skimp on the flowers with silk.

Not only are luxury artificial flowers realistic, but they’re also much more affordable than their counterparts. Furthermore, faux flowers open up all possibilities, meaning you can add in florals that aren’t technically in season (we do avoid dead giveaways like loads of Tulips in November, but the odd stem we can get away with).

As an extra layer to your keepsake bouquet, one thing Hannah loves to do is include sentimental stems in the arrangement. Should that be a nod to your heritage, a favourite flower, birth flower or someone's namesake.

Let’s chat about your wedding's floral flourishes