5 Wedding Bouquet Etiquette Questions Answered

It's too beautiful just to toss

Updated 08/05/17

Courtesy of Olivia Rae James

More than just something to keep your hands busy when you walk down the aisle, your bridal bouquet is a detail that helps tie all of your design and décor together. It’s an accessory, a focal point, and one of the first peeks your guests will get into your celebration, so deciding what you’ll carry as you make your way to the altar is actually pretty important. Before you sit down to chat with your florist about what he or she will put together for you (or decide to DIY your own bouquet), our experts are here to answer five questions that are probably at the front of your mind.

Do I Have to Carry a Bouquet?

Bouquets are an immediately recognized (and totally pretty) wedding tradition, but carrying a bundle of blooms isn’t a must. In fact, the reason brides originally started carrying them centuries ago was because the perfume of the flowers masked their body odor (you know, back when bathing wasn’t a daily occurrence)...Since today’s brides aren’t so concerned about masking an unpleasant smell, the bouquet’s main purpose these days is to be a beautiful—but not necessary—accessory. You could opt to hold a single bloom, hold your pooch’s leash, or leave your hands empty so you can grab your parent’s for that important walk.

Who Else Needs Flowers?

Bouquets and boutonnieres are a great way to distinguish the VIPs in your wedding party. If you’re opting to outfit everyone with flowers, here’s what you’ll want:

  • Bouquets for your bridesmaids

A nosegay, basket of petals, or flower crown for your flower girl

  • Wrist corsages, nosegays, or floral clutch clips for female family members (like the mothers and grandmothers)
  • Boutonnieres for the groom, groomsmen, ring bearers, ushers, and male family members (like fathers, grandfathers, and brothers)
  • Again, there’s no hard-and-fast rule about this, so if you’d rather skip the blooms completely or have only a bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, that’s totally fine!

    How Do I Differentiate Between Bouquets?

    If your bridesmaids will be carrying bouquets down the aisle, there are a few easy ways to differentiate between theirs and your own. Most commonly, brides opt to have their ‘maids carry a slightly smaller version of their own bouquet, sometimes designating a certain flower to appear in the bridal bouquet only. You could also choose a variety of blooms for your own bouquet, then have each bridesmaid carry a few stems of a single variety. Another great option is to play with color, either adding an additional tone to your bouquet or having one be quite bright while the other is more muted.

    Do I Have to Toss My Bouquet?

    No! After putting all that work into designing the perfect photo-worthy bouquet, the thought of throwing it over your head can be totally heartbreaking. Also, many a female wedding guest has expressed intense aversion to the entire practice of the bouquet toss—you may want to save them the ordeal. If you do decide to do a bouquet toss, either ask your florist to create a smaller (and less expensive!) nosegay for you to throw, or grab one of the bridesmaid's bouquets. The smaller style will be much easier to throw, and less dangerous for those trying to catch it.

    What Should I Do With it After the Wedding?

    If you’re really attached to your bouquet, look into options for having it preserved. You can press a few of the blooms in a book, dry the flowers and place them in a shadow box, or have a professional company preserve it for you. Otherwise, stick the stems in a vase, and pop by your local florist for flower food to add every few days to keep the flowers alive as long as possible. Then relish in the pictures from your photographer!

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