Wedding Flowers – The Rose

As part of my ongoing series about wedding flowers, this month I will be featuring the classic rose.  In a previous post, History of the Rose, I discussed the origin, legend and history of the rose.  I will also discuss the language of the rose and the meaning of the different colors.  Since the rose has remained a very popular choice for weddings at the end of this post I will offer some tips and suggestions for bridal bouquets and boutonnieres as well ceremony and reception floral arrangements.

The language of flowers (floriography) was practiced centuries ago throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  In the Victorian era, the custom of nosegays (tussie-mussies) became a popular way for men and women to send secret messages to each other thereby somehow circumventing the eyes of their chaperones.  Flowers were chosen for their special meanings, such as the gardenia for new love, a camellia for romantic love, violets for faithfulness and forget-me-nots for remembrance, but the flower most often used was the rose which had a variety of different meanings.

An example of a classic Victorian tussie-mussie in a silver holder

The different meanings of roses

In the language of flowers, the classic rose had many different meanings according to its color and also the number of roses used.  I will explain the various meanings of the five most popular colors of roses below:

White Rose –

The white rose has become one of the most popular and traditional wedding flowers, in fact it is sometimes referred to as the bridal rose.  During Victorian times, in the language of flowers, the deeper the color of the rose meant the deeper the passion.  So, a white rose represented purity and innocence and was often sent as a message of true love.  Since it is also associated with new beginnings, the white rose was often appropriate to use for special occasions such as a wedding or a baptism.

Traditionally a bridal bouquet is made of all white flowers and white roses are a perfect choice.  Roses can be used either as buds or full bloom flowers; either type is fairly sturdy and will generally withstand most weather conditions.  White roses are available in pure white but other varieties can have a hint of color, such as pink, which can add some subtle interest when used in an all-white bridal bouquet.

Pink Rose –

Another popular color choice for weddings is the pink rose.  In the language of flowers a pink rose represents happiness and admiration but there were sometimes additional meanings depending on the particular shade of a pink rose.  Specifically a light pink rose means grace while a dark rose would mean gratitude.  Pink roses are often used for bouquets or floral arrangement to send to a young girl to mark a special milestone such as a graduation.

Pink roses used as wedding flowers in bouquets, boutonnieres and other arrangements would be a wonderful idea for a spring or summer wedding.  Since pink roses are available in a variety of shades, a combination of light and dark pink roses would add interest to any type of arrangement of wedding flowers.

Red Rose –

The red rose is one of the most popular rose colors and in the language of flowers it was used to convey a message of deep emotion and romantic love.  Red roses can also represent beauty, devotion, desire and deep passion.

The demand for red roses increases dramatically for Valentine’s Day, so to avoid paying a higher price or risking a supply shortage when planning a February wedding it might be best to choose another type of flower.  But if you have your heart set on red roses be prepared to order early and to pay a higher price!

Orange roses –

In the language of flowers, the orange rose represents enthusiasm and gratitude.  Specifically a light peach rose meant modesty, innocence and purity and a darker orange (or corral) rose which is more intense in color meant passion.

Orange or peach roses would be the perfect color to use for a fall wedding  Just image a lovely bouquet made in a combination of the two colors set against the bride’s white dress or a bridesmaids gold colored dress.

Yellow rose –

Back in the Victorian times, a yellow rose sent a message of jealousy and when given to someone it usually indicated that the person receiving the rose had committed infidelity.  Today, the yellow rose represents friendship, joy and wishes for good health which makes it an appropriate flower to use for a baby shower, a gift for a new mother or as a get well wish for someone in the hospital.

A yellow rose would be a wonderful flower to use for a wedding, just consider a bouquet of yellow roses for the bridesmaids to carry which would convey a silent message of friendship from the bride.

Ideas and suggestions for rose wedding flowers 

Roses can be a very versatile wedding flower that can be used for bridal bouquets and boutonnieres as well ceremony and reception floral arrangements.  Below are several ideas and suggestions for wedding flowers using rose, the examples show various arrangements using all white roses but any color or combination of colors can be used.


Two examples of different shaped rose bouquets

An example of a classic rose boutonniere

Two examples of rose corsages

An example of a rose arch used in church
but could also be used for an outdoor wedding

An example of a rose floral arrangement – perfect for a church altar decoration

An example of a candle and rose arrangement – would be perfect for a unity candle!

Two examples of rose chair decorations

An example of rose petals beautifully arranged for an aisle

 An elegant example of rose floral arrangement for a reception

An example of a rose cake topper