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Emerge into the world of bridal flowers

emc alumni emc core program emc designer floral design floral education Sep 04, 2022

EMC inspiration

Learning from the past to focus on the future

As unique as her personality, the floral design is the most intimate accessory a bride wears on her big day.

And the internet has a tone of references as to what bridal flowers mean to the newly wed, but what does it mean for a florist, for a designer? What are the things you focus on when designing bridal pieces? Where is the added value that sets you apart from your competition? Scrolling through are bouquets online is a real source of inspiration but have you scrolled down the path of history to get to know better the meaning behind wedding flowers. Going through a journey of reconnection with the past can be a tremendous source of inspiration both in style and techniques employed. Reaching for such sources of inspiration is just as valuable as going to workshops or learning from contemporary designers.


Although it has long been customary to adorn wedding ceremonies with flowers, the great variety of bridal bouquets that are currently offered is a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to the 19th century, most wedding ceremonies employed wreaths, a few crowns, and loosely wrapped flowers. Since the early 19th century, bridal flowers and bouquets have become more popular. Their designs and materials have changed with time, giving rise to the huge variety and seemingly endless options available today. The majority of modern customs are simply relics of the past, though. All of the flowers, patterns, and combinations had a distinct and vitally important meaning throughout history. Even though the majority have been forgotten, our contemporary wedding customs still include them, both consciously and unconsciously. Flowers have accompanied humanity throughout history, symbolising changes and developments in people's lives. 

A brief history of the bridal bouquet

Flowers, wreaths, garlands, and tiny, straightforward bouquets were all sold on town squares in ancient Greece. The profession of "flower binders" most definitely existed, and Glycera of Greece was one of the earliest recognised florists in history. Small bouquets consisting of wildflowers, violets, olive blossoms, and—most importantly—roses were frequently used. Flowers were used for communication, celebration, and appreciation, especially when there was love involved. For instance, a modest bouquet would be left on a girl's doorstep to court her, and wreaths were popular at wedding ceremonies. According to the mythology of the gods, each flower and piece of leaf had a distinct meaning and symbolism which everybody respected.

Flowers were a vital aspect of life and were sold all across ancient Rome, the vast metropolis where people came from all over the Roman Empire. The usage of flowers became lavish and sumptuous due to influences from Greek culture, which continued and improved on earlier practices. Better growing methods and imports from Egypt also made it possible to have an abundance of material. Both the colors and scents of flowers appealed to the Romans. They favoured various types of herbs, violets, hyacinths, matthiola, and most significantly, roses. The rose, which derives its meaning of love from Greek mythology, has now emerged as the flower of fashion. Wreaths worn on the head during wedding rituals were fashionable for both men and women, representing fertility and everlasting love while warding off evil spirits. A crown consisting of flowers and greenery was designed for especially special occasions.

During the Middle Ages, with the fall of the Roman Empire, the Christian Church grew to be the dominant force, and among other things, the extravagant and excessive usage of flowers was outlawed since it was seen as a representation of antiquated religious mythology and a betrayal of God. The church itself employed many flowers in its symbols as a contradiction and under the pressure of people and traditions. The usage of wreaths was expanded throughout the Renaissance, and floral design as it was in ancient Greek and Roman eras came back into fashion. The use of flowers had also changed as the emphasis shifted from a religious to a secularized, science-driven approach. During this time of extensive change, the bouquet as we know it today was created. New flowers were among the many items that the Europeans brought back after discovering new lands. Royalty and nobility started to carry bouquets as a fashion statement, while working-class men continued to wear wreaths if they had any flowers at all.

The introduction of numerous new and exciting flowers to Europe during the Baroque and Rococo eras in the late 1600s and early 1700s, including orchids, Chinese roses (Rosa chinensis), peonies (Paeonia), and tulips (Tulipa), led to an expansion in the usage of flowers, particularly for weddings. Small, circular, slightly domed, tightly packed bouquets that could be handled in the hand were popular. If they were truly remarkable, they would be placed in a specially constructed bouquet container made of silver or other priceless materials. Roses, carnations, myrtle, and citrus blossoms were the most widely used flowers. The bouquet for the dress's décolletage, which frequently had a particular glass tube or vase sewed into the arrangement, was even more magnificent.

The Pompadour bouquet, named after the fashion icon Madam Pompadour, was another well-liked arrangement. This thin, loosely bound bouquet had a collar made of paper or lace, and the backing made it simple to set it down. The demand for other semi-crescent-shaped bouquets was also high. These bouquets were eventually transformed into wedding bouquets in the second half of the 18th century, and the bouquet gradually began to replace the wreath as the floral design vogue for a wedding among the nobility. Before the middle of the 19th century, corsages, wreaths, semi-wreaths, and crowns were more common wedding decorations than bouquets for the bride. Wedding bouquets from the first half of the 19th century and the second half of that century cannot be compared because of the vast disparities between them.

Most of the larger European cities throughout the Empire era featured flower marketplaces where bouquets of natural flowers or flowers that had been wired individually and then blended together according to personal preference were sold. These bouquets are what we now refer to as posies. The Biedermeier, posy variations with meticulously arranged concentric circles of colored flowers, each ring holding one variety of flower, was the following major trend in bouquets. In the middle of the 19th century, the German-speaking nations gave birth to this carefully arranged bouquet. All of the components, including the flowers and greenery, are first wired. Next, circles are made by starting at the center and tying all the way around, then placing the stems parallel or at random. As such, the spiral system did not yet exist.

The white garment becomes fashionable for the first time in history in the early 1920s as the bouquet becomes a luxury that people of all classes can afford. Shower bouquets peaked in the 1920s and 1930s, peaked in the 1940s, peaked in the 1940s, peaked in the 1940s, peaked in the 1940s, peaked in the 1940s, peaked in the 1940s, peaked in the 1940s, peaked in the 1940s, peaked in the 1940s During the war years, corsages were frequently worn in place of hand-held bouquets, which are now the sole responsibility of the bride and groom's mothers and grandmothers. With the development of the formal linear and vegetative designs, a quick transition can be seen starting in the 1970s. Overall, we can conclude that while crowns and wreaths nearly vanished, bouquets received greater attention and were made with more creativity and expertise. Nowadays, bouquet designs are more distinctive and unique than ever. The emphasis is on expression rather than a certain style, and a range of accessories are used.

Looking back through history we see how the use of flowers has changed according to historical époques and availability to a constantly larger audience like most trends in society, changes took place slowly until the early 20th century. From then on, things started to accelerate, and trends have changed constantly from the late 20th century until now, reflecting the tempo of modern life. Styles and shapes, crowns, wreaths, special flowers as well as materials have been reused in various ways and are still incorporated into our wedding rituals today. Today though, in floristry, as in society as a whole, we are looking for a personal expression. There are more things to love than red roses! With knowledge and inspiration from history and with today’s fantastic selection and quality of flowers and all other available materials the options for the designer to convey the message of love and the personality of the bride are limitless! In future times, the task of the florist will be so much more than only putting together beautiful flowers. It is up to us to match the right flowers, colours, shapes, textures and materials to the feelings, qualities and personality of our clients. The language of wedding flowers is all about love!

Bridal flowers in EMC

"The bridal composition is by far the ultimate design challenge for a florist. The personal connection between the bride and the flowers makes it special. The importance of this floral design means that it involves both competent hands and an emotional empathy approach since we need to be able to relate to a person's personality, wishes, and dreams. That tiny bouquet contains everything, and to the bride, it means the world. The bride values the emotional component. The bridal flowers are a fusion element, encompassing tradition, nature, emotion and uniqueness. Understanding communication puts us on the next level, growing from a craftsman to a skilled designer, adding value for the person for whom we design it." Tomas De Bruyne, lead instructor in EMC

EMC provokes the students from Foundation class to view the bridal floral design as a unique piece, the purpose of it being of bringing emotion into centerstage and showcasing their ability to translate that into a bridal design work. Through each step of this process, our students gain knowledge of techniques, shapes, lines, colour, they get to work with all the Elements and Principles of Design. It uplifts their capability of connecting to the client and focus on delivering their message. Floral harmonies and inventive use of elements are key and the challenging task of translating love into a design is a journey we believe is so important that all florists should go through.


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