Natural Living

By Alisa Leonard

After the initial euphoria and happy delirium of my boyfriend’s proposal, I buckled right down to business with my mother and a few girlfriends to begin THE PROCESS…that is, the whole frenzied business of planning my ultimate fairy-tale wedding (this is when latent princess complex explodes to the surface). I remember the first thing I wanted to nail down wasn’t my dress, or the invitations, or even the venue. My first thought was flowers!

Being somewhat of a nature freak, this might have been expected. Flowers have an almost transcendent quality of purity and beauty that can reflect so perfectly our unique style and personality. More than mere “decoration” they can imbue a celebration with a particular essence and motif. The Victorians had an almost religious fascination with the meaning and symbolism of flowers and what they called “the language of flowers.”

I remember my best friend had exuberant bunches of bright Gerber Daisies, which, according to the Victorian Florigraphy gospel, means “share your feelings,” at her spring garden wedding. They had been the perfect choice for the small and intimate ceremony where close friends and family did indeed share in the blissful feelings of their big day. How sweet the meaning of the flowers she chose! Whenever I see those cheerful little flowers I always think of that beautiful day.

As for me, with Audrey Hepburn as my muse, I chose the simple and tailored white Calla Lily for my wedding, which according to The Language of Flowers means “magnificent beauty.” (Ah ha! I knew I felt a special connection with them *wink*) Indeed, flowers speak volumes where words often fall short — like that single red rose your new boyfriend left you or that bouquet of wild flowers you gave your mom for Mother’s Day. So, for those of you fabulous gals with wedding bells ringing in your ears, I’ve done a little digging and ta-da! I give you this nifty little list of flowers and their symbolism:

Rose: love, beauty, joy
Calla Lily: magnificent beauty
Gardenia: ecstasy
Ivy: fidelity
Lily: purity
Orchid: love, beauty, refinement
Peony: marital happiness
Stephanotis: happiness in marriage
Tulip: perfect lover
Baby’s Breath: innocence
Carnation: boldness, love, talent
Daisy: share your feeling

Gardenia: purity, joy, secret love
Daffodil: regard, unequalled
Sweet Pea: pleasure
Forsythia: anticipation
Holly: domestic happiness
Orange Blossom: innocence, eternal love, marriage and fruitfulness

…of course this is only a short list and I encourage all you anxious brides-to-be to find your perfect flowers. Simple research on the internet turns up several substantial sites on floral symbolism. There are also a plethora of books on the subject. My favorite? This awesomely-named Victorian gem of a book: Collier’s Cyclopedia of Commercial and Social Information and Treasury of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge.

Originally published May 2006
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