Image Credit: Kevin McGinn Photographer

Whispering Flowers

When choosing the flora to adorn your special day, aesthetic is the obvious decider. However, what you may not have considered are the meanings attributed to certain flowers and what each variety represents. Camilla Stephenson speak with Debbie O’Neill from Debbie O’Neill – Freelance Designs about the language of flowers and how you can make a declaration of love with your bouquet.


Image Credit: Euro Photography

Flowers have always played a significant role in society’s gatherings. Whether positioned at centre stage or softly decorating the background, they’re used in ceremonies around the world, particularly in weddings.

Whether you love the beautiful smell of roses, or daffodils are reminiscent of a farm you visited as a child, floral arrangements can be chosen for various reasons. However, what lies beneath the aesthetic of flowers is an international dictionary representing emotions that can transcend any heartfelt speech.

Budding Romance

Whether they’re positioned to complement a venue, or sprinkled along the aisle by the flower girl for the bride to walk along, flowers are typically abundant on your special day.

The bouquet you carry down the aisle to your future groom-to-be will surely be one filled with love and excitement, but did you know that adding baby’s breath to your arrangement is said to bring everlasting love? Or that a touch of honeysuckle can symbolise devotion? Similarly, a red rose signifies passionate love, and from a daffodil spills the promise of new beginnings.

Your special day should be personal and sentimental, so if you’re can’t decide which varieties to include in your floral arrangements, below are the meanings behind some of your favourite blooms:

Tulip: Declaration of love
Ivy: Fidelity
White rose: Purity
Freesia: Trust
Speedwell: Fidelity
Stephanotis: Happiness in marriage
Eucalyptus: Protection
White hyacinth: Beauty
Honeysuckle: Devotion

Neglect Size

Contrary to modern belief, the size of a floral arrangement does not determine its beauty. In the Victorian Era, a small posy was an eloquent reminder of love for the recipient. The ‘less is more’ trend often accounts for more effect, or, in this case, sentimental meaning. To proclaim your devoted affection, all you may need is a quaint bundle of heliotrope to carry down the aisle.

Treasured Memories

Despite flowers having particular meanings behind them, each individual person also has a different memory associated with a particular bloom. Whether a flower’s scent takes you back to a favourite destination, or a certain variety reminds you of a dearly departed relative, flora has a way of attaching itself to a beloved memory.

Creative florist Debbie O’Neill from Debbie O’Neill – Freelance Designs has worked closely with many of her past clients to create floral arrangements that symbolises a particular memory or loved one. “A client [requested] a flower placed at the back of their bouquet as a symbol of their lost loved one being with them on the day,” she says. Similarly, a bride had lost both of her parents and requested roses in her bouquet. “She had a white bouquet and two red roses in the centre that symbolised [her parents],” she adds.


Although there are many precious memories that should be remembered, it’s the unpleasant ones we try to forget. Since the use of flowers is so prominent at certain ceremonies, such as funerals, some varieties are associated with grief or death and thus should be avoided.

On occasion, a request to avoid a certain flower can come from a cultural background where superstitions are high or traditions

have been followed for centuries. Since white chrysanthemums are most associated with funerals in Korea, O’Neill says Korean customers tend to avoid using them at weddings. Likewise, white flowers are associated with death in Chinese culture, so couples prefer to incorporate red blooms into their wedding as they symbolise happiness and good luck. “Several different nationalities have different superstitions,” she says. “Chinese clientele don’t usually like white or chrysanthemums as these symbolise death. Italian clientele don’t like arum lilies as they use them for cemetery flowers. Some clients are just superstitious, so they do make requests.”

Global Romance

When two people from different countries become married, it can be impractical or expensive to host a wedding at each destination. However, to pay homage to the bride or groom’s background, certain flowers are able to bring ‘a touch of home’ to the wedding ceremony.

A sprig of eucalyptus or a blooming waratah will instantly remind an Australian of their home country, much like a tulip will invigorate memories of windmills and stroopwafels to any Dutch native getting married on our shores. Modern technology may be innovative in the world of weddings, but nothing holds memories of home like a native flower.

There are many aspects to consider when deciding on which flowers to include on your special day. Dependant on the blooms you choose, there are many different elements that can be reflected from your floral arrangements, such as your personality, cultural traditions and religious beliefs. Above all, regardless of a certain flower’s proposed meaning, your signature style should radiate to bring a new and unique significance to the combination you’ve chosen.