How to Rock Rose Petals in Your Wedding Ceremony

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (27/11/2021)
Categories:  |  Wedding Ceremony |  Wedding Traditions
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Pink rose petalsRose petals and weddings go together like, well love and marriage! While adding petals always ups the romantic ambience of the ceremony, they also reflect age old custom. Roses and rose petals as a symbol of love have been associated with weddings for thousands of years. In Ancient Greece petals were thrown over couples for happiness, together with grains for fertility.

There are also many other ways to include petals in your wedding ceremony  that will both surprise and delight your guests because they won't have experienced them before.

Petals on the Aisle

The most popular use for petals in a wedding is scattering them on the aisle in the pathway of the bride. Always sweet. Always makes for great photos. Sometimes funny if a flower girl decides to put her own spin on it. It offers infinite possibilities if you think outside the box. The most obvious one being that it doesn't have to be the bride who walks down the aisle! All of the following suggestions work regardless of gender. And most will work if the marrying couple decides make their entrance by walking down the aisle together.
  • Redefine what a "flower-girl" is
    • change up the age - flower nanas, flower dudes for example
    • change up the species - flower girls don't have to be human
    • change up the numbers - there is nothing wrong with having a bevy of "flower-girls"
  • Add to the petals
    • mix lavender or herbs that will release a fragrance when walked on
  • Multi-task
    • Have your "flower-girl" hand out something to guests - toss lollies, for example, or packets of petals for later use
  • Involve the guests
    • Give the guests sitting on the aisle petals to toss in conjunction with the flower girl. Decide whether you would like the guests to scatter the petals on the carpet or toss them over the bride as she enters. If anyone asks, having the guests scatter petals harks back to Elizabethan times when guests would scatter flower petals from the bride's home to the church
  • Prepare the aisle before the wedding processional begins
    • I like to introduce this formally after the housekeeping as the last thing that happens before the processional starts. I explain that [insert name here] will prepare the aisle. While this is frequently the groom preparing the aisle for his bride, it can also be members of the family in a symbolic gesture of welcome. Beautiful if the children of a blending family do it. Starting at the front, whoever is preparing the aisle walks back up the aisle, scattering petals as they go. It is important to start at the front and work towards the back so as make it clear that the ceremony has not yet started.

Petal Toss

The other very popular use for petals is to give them to your guests to toss over you as you walk back up the aisle at the end of the ceremony. Introduce an element of surprise instead.
  • Give your guests two envelopes, one to toss (petals), one to keep (potpourri that includes dried petals
  • Turn the tradition on its head. Keep the petals for the two of you to toss over the guests as you walk back up the aisle as an expression of appreciation
  • Reactivate the older tradition of the flowergirl scattering petals in front of the couple as they walk back up the aisle. It was a fertility ritual so you might want to take that into account when deciding yes or no on this one!
  • Save the petal toss for the group photos.

Welcome the guests with rose petals

Borrow from the lovely Indian custom of scattering petals at the feet of the guests as they arrive. uet You will need to appoint someone to do this. It's a lovely role for tween children.

Use petals for a COVIDSafe warming/blessing of the rings

Whether it is a blessing of the rings by the person solemnising the marriage, or a warming of the rings by the guests, this ritual involves the handling of the rings by numerous people. For a COVIDSafe variation, place the rings in a dish or other container and provide a basket of rose petals so that each person can warm/bless the rings by dropping some petals on them. What works particularly well is to place the rings in a glass box, where they can be seen, but not touched, and place that box on a tray on a table positioned so that guests will need to walk past it when they arrive for the ceremony. Invite the guests to pause and drop some petals on the box while they make wishes for marriage.

Scatter petals on the signing table

I tend to discourage arrangements of flowers on the signing table because they can get in the way of the photographer, may obscure the view the guests have of the signing, take up room, and if they leak or are knocked over it can be disaster for the paperwork. Petals scattered on the table take away from the bare table look, are powerfully symbolic (roses being a universal symbol of love), and do not get in the way if the bride's bouquet if that is laid on the table while the couple signs and poses for photos. If you are using fresh rose petals, scatter them on the table as close to the time the ceremony is scheduled to start as possible. Two hours is the outside limit that fresh rose petals will continue to look good. Much less on a very hot day.

Create a sacred circle

Create a circle of rose petals for the couple to stand in as they make their vows. I am strongly of the opinion that the circle should be for the two of them only. Your celebrant and your wedding party should be outside the circle as witnesses and supporters without intruding on the intimacy of the moment. If you are using fresh rose petals, create the circle as close to the time the ceremony is scheduled to start as possible. Two hours is the outside limit that fresh rose petals will continue to look good. Much less on a very hot day.

Mix petals instead of sand in a unity ceremony

Sand isn't the only thing that can be mixed in a "sand ceremony". While it might be a lot easier to separate out mixed rose petals, mixing petals of different colours is beautifully visual and powerfully symbolic. The ritual can be representative of the qualities you commit to in your marriages, the characteristics you bring into the marriage, or hopes and wishes for your marriage.

Use petals to highlight the kiss

There are two ways to highlight the kiss with a shower of petals - a toss and a drop
  • For a toss, give each member of your wedding party some petals to shower you with when you kiss after being pronounced married.
  • For a drop, you will need to attach a net to the ceiling to hold the petals. Using tacks on one and tape on the other, plus a long string attached to the net near the tape that can be yanked to pull the net down and release the petals on cue.

Fresh, dried, or silk?

Both fresh petals and dried petals require a specific type of care in order to look fresh on the day. It goes without saying that the better the quality of the roses, the better the result. If choosing fresh petals order from a florist, or be prepared to buy bunches of roses and depetal them close to the time of the wedding.

When your fresh petals are delivered from the florist, they will be in a plastic bag. Open it up and slide in a paper towel so it sits between the side of the bag and the rose petals. Then flip the bag over and do the same on the other side. The two paper towels will insulate from moisture build up and protect the roses from being bruised. Seal the bag and lay it down flat in the fridge but not in a very cold spot. Your fridge manual will tell you which parts of the fridge get the coldest. Periodically check on the petals for condensation. Too much condensation will damage the petals.

If you are depetaling the roses yourself you will need helpers. Or delegate! To depetal, gently and firmly twist each rose head to remove it from the stem. Discard the stem Then gently tease each petal from each head.

Store freeze dried petals in a cool area of low humidity (not the fridge).

Silk petals come in different qualities. Some of the cheaper ones are polyester and may not look very realistic.    

How many petals will you need?

  • For a petal toss you will need 1/2 cup (125 ml) of fresh or freeze dried petals per person if using cones or sachets, or approximately 18 silk petals
  • For a flower girl, about 4-5 cups (1-11/4 litres) of fresh or freeze dried petals or 100 silk petals. Plus lots of practice! Children often default to dropping one petal at a time unless trained to grab and scatter handfuls.

Need to know

Before making any decisions about rose petals, or, for that matter, anything else that might be tossed or scattered and end up on the carpet, floor, or ground, check your venue's policy. Some venues allow only dried petals, some allow only fresh petals, some do not allow petals at all. Some ban confetti and rice. Most will apply a hefty fine, aka cleaning fee, if their policy is breached. So it is important to check the policy early and give your guests a heads-up in your invitation and on your wedding website and/or Facebook private wedding group.

More roses in weddings

Thanks for reading!
Jenny xxx Let's talk
                      soon about how you can have the best ceremony
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