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Rose Petals as a Centerpiece

Wedding Herbs

Discover ways to include herbs in a wedding celebration. Learn which herbs have significance for weddings.

Herbs are appearing in more and more weddings, adding beauty — and meaning — to the celebration. The attendance of herbs at weddings isn't a new idea, by any stretch. In fact, ancient Roman brides tucked marjoram (representative of marital bliss) in bridal crowns and nosegays, and their grooms wore rosemary as a sign of virility. Mint and marigold (as aphrodisiacs) and ivy (symbolizing fidelity) were woven into Roman wedding garlands and wreaths. The Victorians, too, (big believers in the significance of individual plants) carried flowers that symbolized their feelings and wishes for their marriage. 

If you're planning a wedding, consider herbs for meaningful decorations, accessories, and gifts. Here are some ideas for including fresh and dried herbs in the festivities:

  • lavender flowersTie bundles of herbs with ribbons (lavender alone is a good choice, as is an assortment of herbs) and hang on doors, church pews, chair backs, etc.
  • Toss rose petals instead of rice.
  • Strew rose petals and other herbs on reception tables, the procession path, the interior of the bridal couple's car, etc.
  • Place dried herbal potpourri in baskets lined with lace or tulle or in silver bowls. Place at each table. (Include a list of herbs chosen and their significance.)
  • Use potted herbs as table decorations. Clay pots tied with a bit of ribbon or twine, or wrapped with a bit of lace or linen, work beautifully.
  • Place fresh-cut herbs in mason jars (also tied with ribbon, lace, linen, etc) for table decorations.
  • Make herbal sachets for take-home gifts for guests. Include a tag explaining the sentiment behind the herbs.
  • Small packets of herb seeds also make good gifts for guests. Write on the packet the meaning of the contents, along with the names or initials of the wedding couple.
  • Tie small sprigs of herbs onto napkins at the table settings.
  • Attach an herbal corsage to the ring pillow.
  • Make a large herbal wreath to surround the punch bowl or smaller herbal wreaths to hang on the backs of chairs.
  • Incorporate fresh or dried herbs in hair wreaths and veils, bouquets, and boutonnieres.
  • Include herbs (such as lavender) in cake recipes and decorations.
  • Scent your invitations, announcements, programs, etc. with herbs. The easiest way to do this is to place a few drops of an herbal essential oil on a cotton ball and place in a box with the papers. (Be careful not to get the oil on the paper; keep the cotton ball to the side.) Cover the box and leave for a couple of weeks or more, until the scent infuses the papers.
  • Diffuse herbal essential oils during the reception.
  • Make your own botanical candles using dried herbs.
  • Pin a small sachet of herbs into the hem of the wedding dress. (You might use blue fabric — "something blue" — to make the sachet.)
  • Attach an arrangement of herbs to the handle of a flower girl's basket. Fill the basket with rose petals and other strewing herbs.

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To help you choose which herbs to use, here's a primer on the symbolism of herbs that are especially wedding appropriate:

Angelica: protection
Calendula: health, joy
Carnation: admiration, pure love
Heather: admiration, protection
Ivy: fidelity
Larkspur: joy
Lavender: love, devotion
Lemon verbena: unity
Marjoram: joy, happiness, marital bliss, blushes
Mint: warm feelings
Myrtle: true love, married bliss, fidelity
Oregano: joy, happiness
Pansy: thoughts of loved one
Parsley: festivity
Rosemary: remembrance and fidelity

Rue: protection from evil
Sage: domestic virtue
Sweet basil: good wishes
Thyme: courage and strength
Violets: faithfulness
Pink roses: beauty, grace
Red roses: passion, love, luck
Rose white: unit, love, respect, innocence
Rose geranium: preference
Rosemary: remembrance, fidelity, luck
Sage: domestic virtue, long life
Thyme: courage, strength
Verbena: faithfulness, marriage
Wormwood: affection
Yarrow: everlasting love

Including herbs in a wedding celebration is both modern (fresh and eco-friendly) and old fashioned (the Romans have dibs on the idea, after all). No matter what kind of wedding you're planning, though, herbs can enhance the celebration with meaning and beauty.

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