Are your currently choosing florals for your wedding décor and bouquet?
Both secular and religious culture have long traditions of ascribing particular symbolism and significance to flowers. The first use of flowers and plants as an invitation to contemplate God’s creation is believed to have originated in medieval monasteries. Saint Basil the Great wrote in a homily, “I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to yon the clear remembrance of the Creator.”
The thought that living things speak a language, drawing our attention to the Father’s creativity, precision, and beauty, is a profound one. If the language of flowers appeals to you, consider incorporating blossoms that signify Our Lady--the purest, most radiant bride--into your selections. Here, four flowers with Marian significance.
Many images of the Annunciation depict the angel Gabriel presenting Mary with a lily as he invites her to shelter and bear from her womb the Word made flesh. Saint Joseph, Mary’s beloved spouse, is also frequently shown with the lily. Both of these connections emphasize Our Lady’s purity and chastity--her perfect integration of body and soul.
The lily of the valley flower, in particular, is also known as “Our Lady’s tears,” said to have blossomed from the tears Mary shed at the foot of the cross. Even on the joyful day of a wedding feast, these flowers are a delicate, fragrant reminder that marriage calls us to embrace both agony and ecstasy.
Consider, as well, that the lily is mentioned several times in the Song of Songs, a source of beauty among thorns and an element within “a garden closed:” an meditation on what it is to be a bride.
Bold, sculptural star and Easter lilies are well-suited to spring weddings or minimalist brides, while tiger lilies and lily of the valley are a great fit for summer celebrations and bohemian or rustic tastes.
The ancient prayer of the Litany of Loreto calls upon the intercession of the Holy Trinity and of Our Lady under various titles, including Mary as the “Mystical Rose.”
Why the rose? Popularly considered the crowning, most beautiful of all flowers, Our Lady has been described by Saint Brigid as “beautiful to the sight, and tender to the touch, and yet it grows among thorns, inimical to the beauty and tenderness...The Virgin may suitably be called a blooming rose. Just as the gentle rose is placed among thorns, So this gentle Virgin was surrounded by sorrow.” As with the lily, the symbolism of roses invites spouses to consider the good times and bad, the easy and the crosses, which they entrust to one another in their marriage vows.
Roses convey a classic sensibility and, in addition to the Mystical Rose devotion, call to mind Our Lady’s gift of roses to Saint Juan Diego at Guadalupe.
Marigolds or Calendula
As prayer gardens grew more prevalent in medieval monastic settings, the faithful frequently reclaimed pagan epithets for plants and flowers by giving them religious names. Marigolds or calendula flowers (variations on a similar species) are now traditionally known as “Mary’s gold,” intended to invoke Our Lady’s heavenly queenship and radiance, the “woman clothed with the sun” in Revelation who triumphs over the grasp of evil and destruction.
Available in warm tones of red, gold, and orange, marigolds are beautifully suited to fall weddings, and can also be found in year-round friendly white.
Choosing blue, the color most frequently associated with Our Lady, for your wedding florals offers an array of choices and shades to complement your wedding colors, season, and style. Consider hydrangea, hyacinth, iris, bluebells, or wildflowers.
Do you plan to choose your wedding flowers based on their symbolism or connections to Scripture and the saints? Share your stories in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.