Poetic Petals

Choose the flowers that hold meaning for you with this handy guide

During the Victorian era, flowers were given specific meanings and chosen with care to express feelings of romance and love. Today, although many of the meanings have faded, the general sentiments still hold true. We consulted Stacey Abernathy of Willow Branch Flowers and Design to put together this guide—use it to choose blooms that hold meaning for you.


The most classic flower a bride can carry, roses hold different meanings depending on their colors. The most traditional wedding options are white and red for “unity,” although white also represents “purity.” Marrying your best friend? Opt for yellow roses, which stand for friendship.
Availability: Year-round, although costs can increase around holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day
Alternatives: Lisianthus or ranunculus
Cost: $3 per stem for standard roses; $9 to $12 per stem for garden roses



Despite the peony’s showy, large blooms and sweet fragrance, this flower means “bashful.” White and pink peonies are the most popular for weddings, but yellow, coral, red, and deep burgundy shades are available seasonally.
Availability: Mid-spring to early summer, but can be imported from other areas of the world in late fall and sometimes around Christmas
Alternatives: Garden roses or ranunculus
Cost: $12 to $15 per stem


Representing “devotion, remembrance, and vanity,” these large flowers are a favorite option because of their size and ability to “fill in” a bouquet. White, blue, pink, purple, and green are the most popular colors.
Availability: White, green, and blue hydrangeas are available year round. Pink and purple are normally found in the spring and early summer
Alternatives: Viburnum, which is only available in green and white
Cost: Price varies by color.  White and blue cost $5 to $6 per stem, while green, pink, and purple range from $12 to $15


Meaning “dazzled by your charms,” ranunculus is a popular option all on its own, or as a substitution for roses or peonies. It comes in all colors except purple.
Availability: Some colors are available almost year-round; others are limited to spring and early summer
Alternatives: Roses or peonies
Cost: $3 per stem



With their happy, bright appearance, tulips stand for “consuming love” and “happy years” and are available in many colors, making them a favorite for bridal bouquets.
Availability: Late November to May but can be imported other times of the year at a higher cost
Alternatives: None; the tulip is a particularly distinctive flower
Cost: $3 per stem for Dutch tulips; $6 to $9 for longer-stemmed French and parrot tulips


Calla Lily

The calla lily symbolized “magnificent beauty” to the Victorians and is a classic bridal flower in white, although it is also available in yellow, pink, red, and dark purple.
Availability: Year-round
Alternatives: None; there really is no other flower that looks similar to a calla lily
Cost: Costs can vary. Smaller calla lilies can costs $6 per stem; larger blooms can cost closer to $9 per stem

Categories: Planning, WeddingsDetails