A Bride in her early thirties asked me if she had to carry a bouquet. She and her Groom had planned a small ceremony in the home of his parents. Fewer than ten people would attend. With international travel scheduled for the following week, the important item on their agenda was having a legal ceremony. They would have a big, traditional wedding next year, after the baby was born. Rather than hold flowers for this small ceremony, she would hold the Groom’s hands. I assured her there was no requirement that she carry flowers. I also explained why she might want to reconsider her decision.
Weddings are a time when the language of flowers speaks volumes. The pure vibration of the rose is thought to gently stimulate the heart chakra. Deeply rooted, the delicate rose can surmount many obstacles. The iris is thought to unblock old, self-limiting patterns and create a rainbow bridge between worlds. Even the tiny violet imparts the power to protect against fear. Lavender is believed to cleanse the energetic field, to soothe and heal frayed nerves—a good idea for any Bride!
Instinct tells me there’s a deeper reason for the Bride to carry a bouquet.
The processional reflects who the Bride and Groom are as individuals. She is a woman with friends of her own—the bridesmaids. He is a man with friends of his own—the groomsmen. They enter sacred space from different directions – he from the side to stand with the officiant at the altar; she from the back, down an aisle strewn with flowers. While marriage requires both to take risk, his particular task at that moment is to stand and wait. He needs to be patient. Her task at that moment is to move forward. She needs to be bold. The invisible message in the processional is that these two people are willing to risk everything to build a life with each other. As the officiant, I’m aware of the energy between them as physical distance closes. It’s not uncommon for her eyes to water, for his lip to quiver.
They meet in the space before me. A look passes between them. I imagine the relationship flashing before their eyes…the way they met, the first date, the first kiss, using the “L” word for the time, the uncertainty—can something this good be real? Meeting each other’s families, fragile dreams followed by casual noncommittal conversations about “someday,” the proposal and all the planning that led to this moment, the fear of somehow messing it all up, the determination, the unconditional, luminous love. Unless the Bride is feeling light-headed, I encourage her to hold her bouquet as she stands in front of the man she’s about to marry.
Deeper into the ceremony, I ask the Bride to pass her bouquet to her Maid of Honor. Whether the Bride is carrying a lavish cascade or a single rose, when she hands her flowers to her attendant, everyone who has ever been married, and anyone who dreams of being married, will recognize that the process of transformation has taken a step. I doubt they realize the real significance.
The Bride is no longer Persephone picking wildflowers in the meadow with her girlfriends. Nor is she about to be abducted. The Bride has just given up something of fleeting beauty for something of lasting love. She has done so with will, intent, and purpose.
Deeper into the ceremony, I ask the Bride and Groom to face each other and hold hands. Never underestimate the power of touch! These two people have entered the invisible circle of change. The transition from single to married is taking place. It’s a powerful moment.
The ceremony continues. Only after the Couple has exchanged vows and rings, only after I have pronounced them married, only after I introduce them as a couple, only then does the Bride retrieve her bouquet and walk back down the aisle. During the reception, the Bride joyfully affirms her life choice by blindly tossing her beautiful bouquet, leaving to fate which unmarried girlfriend will next face the choice: Fleeting beauty or lasting love?
Oh…the Bride I spoke of at the beginning of this story? The night before the ceremony, she ordered a bouquet.