Symbolic Meaning of Traditional Wedding Flowers

The accepted poetic meanings of traditional wedding roses and tulips

The most traditional wedding flowers became popular for several reasons. The seasonal availability of roses and tulips surely contributed to their heavy use in wedding ceremony and receptions, but there is another side to these choices that many may not consider. The symbolic meaning of these blossoms influences our choice to use these flowers on the happiest day of life comes in to play every time they are added to a bouquet or centerpiece.


The most popular of all the traditional wedding flowers is the rose. In general, the rose simply means ‘love.’ There are so many symbolic meanings attached to the beloved rose, however, it is best to look at them in terms of the color of the rose. The poetic symbolism of the rose changes with the different colorations it is cultivated in.

  • Red Roses: The red rose is a symbol of love, desire, respect and bravery. Popular in romantic and winter weddings, the red rose has become synonymous with marriage and romance. When combined with white roses, the red roses’ meaning transforms to one of harmony.
  • Yellow Roses: Many people think the symbolic meaning of the yellow rose is one of apology, when the opposite is true. A yellow rose symbolizes forgiveness, friendship and happiness. Aesthetically, yellow roses bring brightness to wedding floral arrangements, adding to its poetic meaning of high spirited joy.
  • White Roses: The iconic symbol of bridal purity, innocence and poise is the crisp white rose. Arguably the most popular and recurrent wedding flower, the white rose stands for the innocent love and charm of a new marriage and the purity of the blushing bride.
  • Pink Roses: The symbolic meaning of pink roses is tenderness, love and happiness. Different shades of pink roses have slightly differing meanings, however. A deep pink rose is associated with gratitude while a light pink rose means admiration and gentle love.


Like roses, the poetic meanings associated with tulips vary based on the coloration of the flower. The generalized symbolism of the tulip is fame and perfect love. When used in a bouquet or arrangement, tulips represent elegance and feminine beauty.

  • Cream Tulips: A cream colored tulip is perfectly suited for use in wedding arrangements for both its visual beauty and its symbolic meaning. The poetic connotation of a creamy white tulip is a love that will last forever. Combined with the purity of white roses, cream tulips add a poetic touch of pure, undying and perfect love.
  • Red Tulips: The red tulip has the most passionate symbolism of the different colored tulips. A ruby colored tulip is considered an impassioned declaration of true love to your soul mate and an assertion of truth and honesty. This vow of love and belief is what makes the symbolism of red tulips ideal for wedding floral arrangements.
  • Variegated Tulips: The most interesting look tulip, the variegated tulip, has the most straightforward symbolic meaning. When you give someone a variegated tulip, whether by itself or in a bouquet, you are telling them they have beautiful eyes.
  • Yellow Tulips: A common theme in the symbolic meanings of yellow flowers is happiness and joy. In keeping with that theme, yellow tulips stand for delight and happy thoughts.

The rose and tulip are traditional wedding flowers that are not only beautiful but stand for the happiness, joy and love that are of vital importance to a happy marriage. By understanding the poetic symbolism of these gorgeous and elegant blooms, you can use them more effectively in your wedding ceremony and reception décor.


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