Sunday, January 17, 2016
We've seen the surprising origins of many wedding traditions on this site, and the origins of the bridal bouquet is no different. I actually came across the information when looking up the colloquialism "piss poor." That saying came about at a time when urine was used to tan hides. Members of poor families would all urinate in one pot and then sell it to the tanner daily. Very poor families "didn't have a pot to piss in." So what did this have to do with a bridal bouquet?
It turns out people back then most often planned a June wedding, which is still a popular month to get married, but June was chosen by them because it wasn't too far after their yearly bath which happened in May. By June everyone still smelled pretty clean, but the bride carried a floral bouquet to help mask body odor that developed over the previous month.
And just to keep things in perspective, everyone in the family bathed in the same water. The man of the house was first, then the mother, followed by children with the youngest going last. This is where the saying, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" came from because the water became dirty enough it was opaque.
So the original purpose of the bridal bouquet was more or less perfume to cover B.O. I'm certainly glad we've evolved from that to a bouquet as an aesthetic bridal accessory!
And along with this practical reason for carrying a bouquet, some also believed it had the power to ward off evil spirits, which is a common thread among many wedding traditions from the wedding veil to the wedding cake. And tossing the bouquet to guests became a talisman for good luck.