As with all traditions, there are multiple explanations that sound pretty plausible. So, you get to choose which one you like best!
Brides started carrying bouquets to ward off evil spirits: No one wants pesky evil spirits lurking about on their wedding day, poised to make off with the bride or somehow ruin the ceremony in another way. With the right combination of stinky herbs and flowers, or even pungent garlic cloves, a bride could ensure that no dastardly demons would dare to come near.
Brides started carrying bouquets to mask the smell: Hundreds of years ago, people didn’t bathe daily like we do now. Oh no, not them—they didn’t even think they should bathe weekly or monthly! Apparently they thought it was unhealthy to bathe more than once a year. So, unless their wedding was scheduled right after their yearly cleansing, they needed to employ some heavy-duty odor-masking techniques. Brides started carrying big bouquets of fragrant flowers and herbs to avoid scaring off their groom (who, for some reason, apparently wasn’t quite as smelly as she was).
Brides were expecting a little romance later: Brides wanted to ensure that their grooms would be amorous after the ceremony, so they started carrying bouquets of herbs and edible flowers with aphrodisiac qualities, like dill and marigolds. The plants from the bouquet would then be prepared at the wedding feast and consumed by all—which meant it probably wasn’t just the bride and groom who left feeling amorous!
Brides simply wanted to add some beauty, fragrance, and personal expression to the ceremony: Today, brides choose their bouquet flowers based on what they like, what goes with the theme of the wedding, what matches the season and/or location, and what smells pretty. So maybe, just maybe, that’s what brides way back then had in mind, too!
Next up: Wedding Legends #3: Why Do Brides Wear Veils?