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Medieval & Renaissance Theme Wedding FAQ: Questions about Flowers, Bouquets and Headpieces

4.1: What flowers can I use in my bouquet to go along with the medieval theme of my clothing?

4.2: Does anyone know (or can anyone point me to a resource for) the meanings of different flowers in a bouquet?

4.3: I've found a wonderful company to make our costumes, but I'm not sure what to wear for a veil. I know veils are traditional nowadays, but our medieval wedding is anything but.

4.4: Could I wear flowers in my hair instead of a veil?

4.5: I would like to use a garland of ivy as a headpiece, as it is symbolic of good luck and all. I have an ivy plant, and I wonder if just cutting off a long extension of the plant and forming it into a circle would work. Any advice?

4.6: Help! I am allergic to flowers and I cannot figure out how to replace them in my wedding. I am having a medieval theme. Are there any suggestions?

Medieval & Renaissance Theme Wedding FAQ: Questions about
Flowers, Bouquets and Headpieces

(c) The Medieval and Renaissance Theme Wedding FAQ was compiled
by and is maintained and copyrighted by Barbara J. Kuehl.  All
suggestions and additions should be emailed to her at  This document may be freely redistributed
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4.1:  What flowers can I use in my bouquet to go along with the
    medieval theme of my clothing?

From: cd055@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Jennifer Gebhardt)
Our wedding has a Celtic theme...and my bouquet will have white
roses, wine roses, thistle, and heather.
From: (339R0-romanov)
Each could carry a single long-stemmed red rose trimmed with
From: (Amy E. Rottier)
I had a cascading hand bouquet with lots of ivy trailing and
many colorful flowers (I wanted garden-y type flowers, simple
and homey).  The girls had large hand-tied bouquets of the same
flowers.  My flower crown was BIG - but I'm a big girl, and they
balanced me out.  The florist made a spray for the arch, too,
and it was incredible.  Looked fantastic and drew the ceremony
place together (a single big focus point just behind us, instead
of distractions everywhere).
From: Betsy Miller 
Here's an alternative I'm toying with (shamelessly pilfered from
Martha Stewart):  Each attendant carries a bouquet made from a
single flower but using the same greenery & general shape of
bouquet.  The picture I saw had one bouquet made with irises,
one with white roses, one with orange lilies, and one with a red
flower (not roses, but I can't think of what it was).  It looked
really pretty, especially since all the bridesmaids had
identical gowns.
From: (Bozwin)
My attendants are each carrying a cluster of tulips tied with
ribbon. Very reasonable price at that time of year (spring).
Haven't decided yet if each will carry a different color, but
maybe.  With 4, you could do the colors like winter, spring,
summer, fall.
From: (Hillary Butterfly Burgess)
Three ideas I've seen and loved: 1) A small round bouquet with
cascading ivy and ribbon (ivy is cheap filler, but beautiful,
ribbon you can get inexpensively at a craft/fabric store).
2) Long stem flowers.  Tie them together with green craft wire,
wrap about 4 inches of satin ribbon around the stems (toward the
bottom) and attach a bow to the ribbon.  (I like satin bows)
Add ribbons and pearls to the hanging ribbons from the bow to
make it more fancy/formal.  3) Baskets:  We *might* have the
flower girls carrying small baskets filled with petals and then
have the BM carrying bigger baskets filled with flowers and
hanging ivy.  My mom has bought the baskets at yardsales and
craft stores for between 25c and a buck.  She will decorate them
with satin material and ribbon, then we will give them to our
florist who can make a flower arrangement for the BMs.  The
florist suggested we use the BM's arrangements as table
From: (Katie Healey)
My fiance's name is ERIC, so my flowers were Edelweiss (a pain
to find in October!!!), Roses, Ivy, and Carnations.  I know, it
sounds too cute for words, but I really liked it.  For my
bridesmaids, I had bouquets that were virtually the same, except
for one type of flower.  I found one kind of flower that means
"friendship forever" (my best friend's bouquet); another kind of
flower means "memories treasured" (for the bridesmaid who had
been a friend since before we could walk); "new friendship" for
my future SIL; etc.  There are several good books on flowers
that tell about the meanings of different flowers.  It's kind of
neat, once you get going.  When I gave each bridesmaid her
bouquet, I included a little card that explained the meaning of
their special flower.  We all cried baskets before we even left
my house!
In a book entitled "Period Flowers", the chapters called
"Medieval Flowers" and "Renaissance" talk about the flowers
most popular during those times.
From: (Margritte)
There is a book called "Theme Gardens" that you might want to
check out.  It has plans for several gardens--including a
medieval paradise garden, a Shakepeare garden, and others. It's
a wonderful place to look for lists of appropriate flowers.
From: Debbie McCoy 
Ancients used herbs, not flowers, in bouquets because they felt
herbs--especially garlic--had the power to cast off evil spirits
(can you imagine walking up the aisle holding a clump of
garlic!?).  If a bride carried sage (the herb of wisdom) she
became wise; if she carried dill (the herb of lust) she became
lusty.  Rosemary was said to ensure the powers of remembrance.
In Tudor England, brides carried marigolds that had been dipped
in rosewater.  They later ate them. since they were thought to
be aphrodisiacs.  Later flowers replaced herbs and took on
meanings all their own. Orange blossoms, for example, mean
happiness and fertility.  Ivy means fidelity; lillies mean
From: (Jason L)
Our flower girl carried sheaves of wheat, a symbol of growth,
fertility, and renewal.
I would recommend using mixed wildflowers with stalks of dried 
wheat instead of baby's breath.  Keep in mind that they did not 
have florists back then and many items that they used were dried.
The brides bouquet was usually given to her by her mother and 
there was great significance in the types of items present in 
the arrangement.  For example, the wheat was to wish the bride 
fertility, both in family matters as well as family crops.
Usually there would be some flowers present which were native to
the area around the brides home, some flowers native to the area
around the grooms home, and 1 flower from around where they would
live after marriage.  This was more of a peasants' custom since 
they usually could not afford rings and this symbolized the 
couple's joining.

4.2:  Does anyone know (or can anyone point me to a resource
     for) the meanings of different flowers in a bouquet?

From: (Trystan L. Bass)
The language of the flowers is ancient and many of the symbols
have not changed.  These examples come from Shakespeare:
     Red rose and myrtle = I love you
     Ivy with white and red flowers = marry me?
     Forget-me-nots = my true love is yours
     Pansies = you occupy my thoughts
     Violets = I am faithful and loyal
     Mint = great virtue
     Sage = great respect
     White and red roses = unity of purpose
     Pink roses = ours must be a secret love
     Marigolds = I am a jealous lover
     Lavender = I distrust you
     Basil = I hate you
Basil is reputed to help to pull the spirit together, give faith
in India, Pain and misfortune in Greece and a Love Token in 
Italy.  Dill is reputed to be for optimism.  Sage is for esteem 
and open-minded acceptance of unexplained events.  Rosemary is
an herb for remembrance, easing pain, and giving of unselfish
power.  Parsley - I remember hearing somewhere that it was
representative of cleanliness of mind and body(?)  Some of this
is taken from the Bach Flower remedies and some from "The Scented
Garden" by Rosemary Verey.
From: (Q2 USA)
Ivy, symbolizes marriage and fidelity.
>From (Barbara Jean Kuehl)
If you are interested in creating a bouquet with a special
meaning, the following website contains a list of flowers and 
their meanings:
From: "Mary A. Patterson" 
There is a book by Kate Greenaway called the Language of Flowers
that has what flowers "mean".  There are many books on what
flowers "mean" and meanings can differ from book to book.

4.3:  I've found a wonderful company to make our "costumes", but
     I'm not sure what to wear for a "veil".  I know veils are
     traditional nowadays, but our medieval wedding is anything

The headpiece I will be wearing is a wreath made of
ivory-colored flowers, with a veil attached to the back.  I am
also having headpieces made by a friend of mine for my
bridesmaids.  They will have different colored flowers, baby's
breath, and ribbons (which coordinate with the emerald-colored
dresses) instead of the veil.
From: prauda@plootu.Helsinki.FI (Kristiina Prauda)
We had a formal evening reception with a medieval-ish theme.  I 
made a veil for myself.  I borrowed a small gold-and-rhinestone 
tiara from a theatre and added a two-layered, gathered tulle 
veil with narrow gold thread edging starting straight from the 
tiara. The upper layer went to my waist and served as a blusher;
the other layer went down to the hem of my gown (no train). I 
had always known I wanted a long, big veil, but I hate the look 
of those white pearl-and-sequin headpieces. Nor was I too keen 
on fresh flowers, because I think they look best with no veil at
all (with very well styled hair). The tiara was perfect with my 
gold-accented silk gown.  My friend's cousin is getting married 
in a few weeks.  I heard that her veil is short, layered and 
rather fluffy and that she's renting a headpiece from "Kalevala 
Koru". They make jewelry based on actual historical jewelry 
findings., The headpiece is a bronze or silver garland, and can 
be worn either closed, crownlike on top of the head, or open at 
the end, tiara-like.
From: (Amy Hannah)
My dress is really simple and I'm gonna have an updo or I'll be
forever hearing my grandmother's voice sweetly reminding me to
comb my hair.  I was thinking a real neat twist with two spindly
Fuji mums stuck into the "folds" and no veil or just a long piece
of veil on a comb strategically placed in there somewhere.

4.4:  Could I wear flowers in my hair instead of a veil?

From: Debbie McCoy 
It's not necessary to wear a veil. A veil is merely traditional
and ceremonial (although in Judaism Conservative and Orthodox
ceremonies, it's a requirement). Since your wedding sounds very
much your own, the only thing that's important is that your
headpiece (if you choose to wear one) look beautiful.
From: (Lisa Steinberg)
The veils of today have only been used for the last hundred or
so years so, by not wearing one, you aren't contradicting some
ancient tradition.  I like the look of flowers scattered
throughout a hairdo--nice and whimsical.
From: Michaele Kashgarian 
I'm planning to wear fresh flowers instead of a veil. Once I
decide on a dress, I'll try to figure out which flowers will
go with it.
>From (Barbara Jean Kuehl)
Anne of Cleves (early 1500's) supposedly wore a wreath of 
rosemary at her wedding.
From: Deirdre Shaw 
All the Renaissance Faires that I have been to sell wreaths made
out of dried flowers.  I've usually seen a *wide* variety of
colors and flowers used, so you should be able to find something
that matches or complements what you're wearing.  I've liked the
look of the flower wreaths so much that my headpiece is going to
be a wreath similar to the ones sold at the Faires.
From: (Trystan L. Bass)
A wreath of flowers is a very ancient bridal headpiece.  You 
could also wear your hair loose, which symbolizes virginity
(married women wore their hair up and mostly covered).  You
could have the bridesmaids wear their hair braided or up, to
emphasize the bride.
From: "Jill C. Tompkins" 
My wedding is this fall, and I am having a circlet made of silk 
leaves and dried flowers.  Beautiful silk fall leaves are 
available.  They mix beautifully with fresh or silk flowers and 
are not too expensive.
From: (Jason L)
We adapted a Finnish tradition of the mothers crowning the bride
to give their blessing to the daughter.  Andrea entered wearing
a wreath, which she gave to one of her attendants, then both
mothers came forward and put a snood and tiara on her head.
From: (SUE)
My MIL is giving me her white crown headpiece, and I have silk
flowers to weave into it and my hair.
From: (Judith A. Murray)
I had my hair braided by a woman who does braiding at
renaissance faires.  Flowers, pearls, but no headpiece and no
veil.  It was the talk of the wedding!  (I also paid to have my
sister's hair braided - her braid cost $38, and mine $50, plus I
gave her a $12 tip, making it an even $100 - this was one of my
From: (Lynn Woods)
I don't like veils either. I have really long hair and so I made
a headpiece that is three white silk rose buds, two mini-lilies,
& ivy. Draping down from the flowers is three loops of white
satin ribbon with long pearl sprays over the ribbon.  It's a
little hard to describe, but the effect is similar to a veil
without having to actually endure netting or tulle or whatever
it is. It goes on the back of my head.
From: prauda@plootu.Helsinki.FI (Kristiina Prauda)
My friend Paivi's headpiece consisted of her magnificently long 
and thick tawny hair styled around her head (not in braids, but 
sort of tubes or rolls) and decorated with fresh ivy leaves and 
individual white gladiolus flowers. It was really beautiful. 
From: Kari Astley 
I decided to get a head band with a tear drop pearl in front 
because I've always loved the look (sort of like a mythic 
princess).  I would highly recommend trying some on and then 
finding someone to make the one you want.  I had no idea what I 
was looking for till I tried some on.  It's amazingly easy to 
have someone make one, and that way you get exactly what you 
want.  Also, the price for mine was incredible, it was cheaper 
than it would have been had I bought one in a store.
From: (jen jenkins)
One thing that I think is totally beautiful is to have like a 
twist that goes all the way around the head.  it would start
just behind the ear, but a little higher on the head. and go all
the way around to the other side.  It's kinda like a french
twist just not straight up and down.  Then you just put flowers
or baby's breath in the twist part.
From: (Miche)
My dress is Renaissance style, and I'll be wearing a veil ring
made from a willow twig.  I'll be threading pieces of gypsophila
(baby's breath - yick, hate that name) through it along with
some seasonal coloured flowers.  No veil.

4.5  I would like to use a garland of ivy as a headpiece, as it
    is symbolic of good luck and all.  I have an ivy plant, and
    I wonder if just cutting off a long extension of the plant
    and forming it into a circle would work.  Any advice?

From: (Barbara Jean Kuehl)
Try this.  Cut off a long vine of ivy, wind it around about 
three times, tucking it every so often so that you don't need to
use wire or ties to keep it together.  I've seen this done, and
it works great and holds up fantastically!
From: (Q2 USA)
Use a piece of flexible wire and wrap it from end to end with
white or green floral tape.  Form it into a circle the size of
which sits on your head where you'd like it.  Secure the two
ends together with floral tape.  The morning of your wedding,
gently secure the ivy strand to the circle in several places
with floral tape.  Leave it in the refrigerator, maybe on top
of a wet cloth in a tupperware container.  You could add colored
ribbons, pearls, cords, tulle or silk flowers to the headband as
to your taste.

4.6:  Help!  I am allergic to flowers and I cannot figure out
     how to replace them in my wedding.  I am having a medieval
     theme.  Are there any suggestions?

From: "Jill C. Tompkins" 
I'm having a circlet made of silk and dried flowers in an autumn
theme.  This will include silk leaves.  Beautiful silk fall 
leaves are also available.  Perhaps you should look into this.
They mix beautifully with silk flowers and are not too expensive.
Diana Ewing  wrote:
If your wedding is in the evening, why not a candle instead of
flowers.  I can't think of anything more romantic.
From: (Jenette Lynn Cowie)
Are you allergic to dried flowers?  Some dried flowers are very
beautiful, and go well with many themes.  If this doesn't work, 
maybe you could consider using several candles.
What about using ribbons and lace instead?  You can have some 
beautiful "flowers" and designs made with ribbons, and you can 
intersperse the bouquet with long flowing lace.
From: prauda@kruuna.Helsinki.FI (Kristiina Prauda)
If you cannot use any real flowers even in decorations, there is
always silk ivy. Ivy (and other greenery) has often been
suggested in these groups for medieval-style decorations, and
silk ivy doesn't look as fake as silk flowers sometimes do. It
actually looks very good in long garlands and thick branches
around the room (and high on the walls, if possible).  There are
so many possibilities for medieval decorations that flowers are
not at all necessary: candles, candelabras, banners, shields,
tapestries... And if flowers are not completely forbidden, as
long as they're not close to you, maybe you could have an
arrangement on the altar (if it is a church wedding). As for you
and your bridesmaids, you could carry candles.  Or maybe your 
bridesmaids could also be readers for the ceremony and carry 
fancy scrolls with ribbons, with their texts written in the 

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