Flower girl 411

 

Unlike many other roles and rituals which are still surrounded with debate, the roots of the role of the flower girl are made clear. In the era of the ancient Greeks and Romans flower girls were called upon in attendance during nuptials to symbolize the passage of the child into a blossoming and “blooming” woman, wife and mother.

Strewing petals on the altar pathways first began with scattering selected herbs and spices to signify fertility during the event. She is the classical symbol of innocence, which was carried on, even in the medieval age by offering of sheaths of wheat in the bridal procession.

Centuries rolled on and in the Elizabethan age, a number of flower girls were still involved in the bridal train and were followed by a troop of merry musicians. A special flower girl would also carry a silver cup meant for the bride and was decorated with bright ribbons alongside another carrying gold adorned rosemary branches. In addition to this, the entire path from the bride’s home all the way to the Church was always covered in rose petals and many small bouquets were brought into the event to be presented as take home gifts to the guests.

For many generations in this golden age only female attendants were allowed in the bridal chamber to prepare the bride for the wedding. It is a tedious process that until now would last for days. This in special practice by royalty and in some European countries it is still common to see more than one flower girl and some even only include children below a certain age to join the procession.

The floral hoop which is sometimes worn or the head as an adornment or is simply carried, is derived from the wedding ring which is the sign of eternal love. Daintily adorned baskets carried rose petals carried by these little girls in bright satin sashes also became the norm. A lot of modern wedding traditions were credited to the lavish royal wedding of Queen Victoria in 1840. Besides the miniature bridal gown for the flower girls, the use of white on the bridal gown and on the wedding cake as well became fashionable because of her. All of these played an impact upon the romantization of the wedding rites as we practice them to this day.

Looking back, historians noted that it an ancient practice for the groomsmen and bridesmaids to dress like the betrothed couples in order to confuse would be assassins or spell casters. But in these modern times we have kept this tradition for purely sentimental reasons. It is still quite acceptable and amusing to see the ring bearer and the flower girl to mimic the dress of the bride and groom.

The choice of flower girls in today’s society now comes with a lot of practicality. Ideally she should be between the ages of 4 and 8 which should be age wherein little girls can carry out the strewing of rose petals to lead the bridal procession. But there are no strict rules to this as even older girls, women and in some humorous cases even men are called upon for this role if they are held dear by the happy couple.

There is also no rule about having many flower girls, its just that selecting girls too young for the task might leave them running scared when the entrance hymn starts and might cause her to cry and dump her basket of petals – but is anyway taken as fresh delight to all who attend.

Until next time,

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Jewish Wedding Traditions

The following is a glossary of Jewish wedding customs as they are traditionally defined.  Although I am not Jewish, I often provide floral and decor for those who are and I wanted to educate myself of the traditions and customs.   These customs and traditions may vary amongst Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews as well as among those of varying levels of religious observance. We suggest using this glossary as a guide and consulting with your wedding officiate when choosing which customs to incorporate into your Jewish wedding.  I admit, this post is a bit lengthy, but if you are really interested in the traditions read it to the end.  There are some very interesting elements to the Traditional Jewish Wedding that I never  understood before this research.

Chossen V’Kallah
The Hebrew words for groom (chossen) and bride (kallah). The wedding couple is likened to a King and Queen and are to be treated with great honor and fanfare on the day of their wedding and the week following.

The Mikvah
Just prior to the wedding (within the final 4 days), a bride immerses herself in the mikvah (a ritual bath), with the purpose of spiritual purification. Oftentimes grooms pay a visit to the mikvah before their weddings as well. The Mikvah is an essential part of the the Jewish laws of family purity. It is customary for the bride and groom to learn these laws with a teacher during the period of engagement.

Week Before The Wedding
There is a custom in the Ashkenazi community that the bride and groom not see each other for the entire week leading up to their wedding. While there is no definitive source for this tradition, its benefits are believed to increase the joy of seeing each other again when they are reunited at the wedding. It also prevents the bride and groom from unintentionally hurting each other emotionally during the inevitable stress and strain of the final week before the wedding.

Shomer/Shomeret
While the word shomer (masculine)/shomeret (feminine) literally means a “guard,” the role of the shomer/shomeret is more like that of a best man/maid of honor.  The job of the shomer/shomeret is to make certain that the bride and groom arrive to the wedding safely and as stress-free as possible. Additionally, during the time that the bride and groom do not see each other before the wedding, the shomer/shomeret will often act as go-betweens for the couple.

AufRuf
It is customary for a groom to be called up for an aliyah and recite a blessing over the Torah on the Shabbat before his wedding. After the groom’s aliyah, the congregation will often sing “Siman Tov u’Mazal Tov” to him and may pelt him with candy as a fun way to wish him a sweet new life.
*The Aufruf is an Ashkenazi practice and is not generally part of Sephardic tradition.

Shabbat Kallah
On the Shabbat before the wedding, the bride’s friends and loved ones, as well as women from the community, gather together to celebrate the bride, bring her joy, make her laugh, and help keep away the last minute jitters.
*The Shabbat Kallah is an Ashkenazi practice and is not generally part of Sephardic traditions. The Shabbat Kallah is a relatively recent custom.

Like Yom Kippur
Because the bride and groom are starting a new life together, their wedding day is considered to be a personal Yom Kippur for each of them. For this reason, it is customary to add the Yom Kippur confessional to their private afternoon prayers. This is also the reason why many couples fast (see below) on the day of their wedding.

Tena’im
Tena’im are documents of betrothal similar to an engagement contract, agreed upon and signed by both a representative of the groom and a representative of the bride. Because it is considered a grave breach of honor to break this formal betrothal, it has become customary in many communities that the formal Tena’im not be signed until just before the wedding. Therefore the Tena’im are signed by two qualified witnesses at the Groom’s Tisch.
*The signing of the Tena’im is an Ashkenazi practice and is not generally part of Sephardic tradition.

The Groom’s Tisch
The Groom’s Tisch is a less formal reception for the groom. Tisch is the Yiddish word for “table,” and during the Groom’s Tisch the male guests will come to greet him and perhaps share a bit to eat or a l’chaim in his honor. During the Groom’s Tisch, the official betrothal (known as Tena’im – see above) is concluded and the marriage contract (Ketubah – see below) is signed. (Both documents are signed by two appropriate witnesses.) The Tena’im is then read aloud, after which there is the “breaking of the plate,” a ceremony during which the bride and groom’s mothers smash a ceramic plate together.  This symbolizes the seriousness of the commitment between the families: Just as breaking the plate is final, so too is the engagement.
*The Groom’s Tisch is an  Ashkenazi practice and is not generally part of Sephardic tradition.

The Ketubah
After the couple is legally engaged (Tena’im), it is time for them to be contractually married. Two witnesses sign the Ketubah (literally the marriage contract) which traditionally  spells out the husband’s obligation to his wife, everything from sustaining her with basic necessities to honoring and cherishing her. Additionally, the traditional Ketubah discusses how the husband must support his wife during their lives together, and, G-d forbid, in the event of death or divorce. While the contract has been signed, the couple is not yet considered married until the chuppah ceremony.

Chuppah
The Chuppah, or wedding canopy, is a covering, often cloth, held aloft on four poles. The chuppah is symbolic of the first roof the bride and groom share together, representing their new home. That there are no walls in this new home, encourages the couple to follow in the ways of Abraham and Sarah, whose tent was always open to guests.
Following a brief family processional, the groom precedes to the Chuppah. He is traditionally welcomed by the song Baruch HaBah (Blessed is he who comes). An Ashkenazi groom will often don a simple white robe, known as a kittel.  The bride and groom’s white attire is symbolic of purity and creates the imagery of angels. Sephardic grooms are wrapped in a new talit (prayer shawl) and recite a sheh’heh’cheh’yanu blessing, thanking God for sustaining him to this occasion.
The bride enters last and is escorted to the Chuppah where she meets her groom. In most Ashkenazi traditions, the bride circles the groom seven times under the Chuppah and then stands to his right. In many Sephardic traditions, the bride is escorted almost all the way to the Chuppah, at which point the groom comes out to meet her and escorts her the rest of the way.

Kiddushin
Like many Jewish ceremonies, the wedding ceremony begins with a cup of wine. The rabbi recites a blessing over a cup of wine and a second blessing of sanctification over the marriage.  Both the bride and the groom then drink from the cup. The groom then places a solid gold band on the right index finger of the bride and declares: “Behold, you are consecrated unto me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel.” These two blessings and the giving of the ring, completes the ancient betrothal ceremony.
To separate the first part of the wedding ceremony from the second part that follows, the Ketubah is read following the giving of the ring.

The Ring Ceremony
During a traditional Jewish ceremony, the wedding ring is placed on the bride’s right index finger, which is the finger most visible to the witnesses. The wedding band actually validates the marriage contract, consecrating the marriage.   Jewish wedding rings must be made of solid uninterrupted gold, silver or platinum with no precious stones or holes breaking the circle. The continuity of the ring represents the hope for an everlasting marriage.

Reading of the Ketubah
The Ketubah is read aloud and the groom hands the document to the bride. The couple is now officially husband and wife. The second half of the ceremony now continues with the Nissuin (uplifting)

Yihud
Immediately following the ceremony, the bride and groom, now husband and wife, are escorted to a private room where they have an opportunity to  spend a few moments in each other’s company (Yichud means alone-together). During this private time in the Yichud Room, they may not be disturbed. Seculsion in the Yichud room immediately following the Chupah is only practiced by Ashkenazim. Those Sephardic couples whose custom it is to be secluded in a Yichud room, generally do so after the reception.

Simchat Chatan V’Kallah
A Jewish wedding reception may range from a sit down dinner with music and dancing to a carnival like atmosphere.  At Orthodox  Jewish weddings it is considered a mitzvah (good deed) to entertain the bride and groom.  Some guests may wear costumes, shake tambourines, do acrobatics, and even set their hats on fire in their seal to entertain the couple. Much of the dancing is done in large circles – otherwise known as “Simcha Dancing.”

Siman Tov u’Mazal Tov
A common song at Jewish weddings, “Siman Tov u’Mazal Tov” is a musical way of wishing the couple well.  “Siman Tov” means a good sign. “Mazal Tov” means good fortune.

The Horah
The Horah is the name given to the circle dance that is often done at weddings. A well known Horah dance song is Hava Nagillah.

Birkat Hamazon
At the end of the festive meal, Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals–also known by the Yiddish term Bentching) is recited to thank G-d for the food and sustenance that has been enjoyed. This is followed immediately by a second recitation of the Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings) repeating the same blessings that had been recited under the chuppah.
There are two cups of wine involved in the formal Birkat HaMazon. The first cup of wine is held by the one who leads the Birkat HaMazon, and after the Grace has concluded, the second cup is passed around to the individuals who are honored with reciting six of the seven Sheva Brachot. The leader then recites the blessing over the wine, the seventh blessing. After the seven blessings are completed, the two cups of wine are blended together and divided among the bride, groom and leader to drink.
I know it was a lot to take in, and this list is in no way exhaustive.

Until next time,

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Flower of the week – Allium

From the family of onions, the allium flower was incorrectly grouped with the lily family. This was a mistake, of botanical proportions! Botanists recently have transferred this beautiful plant to its rightful family and thus reunited the allium flower with its previously, estranged, family grouping.

Allium flowers are beautiful specimens and have been the favorite of many magnificent artists, such as Rembrandt and Baker, who immortalized alliums in spectacular works of art.

Many growers of alliums also cultivate this member of the onion-genus for its beautiful flower blossoms. The flowers form an unmistakable and unique round-area, at the very top of the bloom, in which is known as the umbel region, of the flower.

Prized for its beauty and non-onion aroma fragrance, the allium flower is used in many perfumes and cosmetics products throughout the world. The ancient native Indians of Peru use this flower for medicinal as well as religious purposes and it was seen as one of the most import plant species of the Mayan culture.

Allium comes in periwinkle blue (otherwise known as lavender) and white and can be used in numerous ways to create the look and feel you are looking for.

They can be used in so many ways to create a very classic look, or something very contemporary.

Until next time!

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Bridal Show Advice for the Bride


‘Tis the season again, bridal season that is! As we approach next weekend’s highly anticipated Austin Bridal Extravaganza I wanted to give some bridal show browsing tips.  I recently attended a show with my newly engaged daughter and being that is way  my first show as a participant, browsing was a whole different ballpark!   I have observed many brides who were overwhelmed, but never quite experienced that myself until this visit.   Even though I am very familiar with the bridal world, and what information she needed, I still had no clue where to start. There were pile of people trying get to each booth.  Trying to successfully grab a business card you are sucked in to filling some door prize out, or setting up appointments and even listening to spiels from the vendors.  Don’t get me wrong, these prizes can be great and what they say could make or break booking that vendor. Follow these tips, not only from a wedding vendor but a Mother of the Bride’s perspective!

1.       Register online before you go, earlier the better. This skips you waiting in line to fill our paperwork at the door.

2.     Bring an appointment book, many vendors offer coupons or discounts if you book an appointment that day.

3.       Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, don’t bring the cute heels for this event, it is a large ballroom filled with people. Leave your coat in the car or check it at the hotel, what is worse than handling a huge purse, bag filled with goodies (Trust me we left with 4 bags filled with flyers, goodies and cards) and then also lugging around a coat.

4.       Leave the family at home, the little ones that is. There is nothing worse than trying to get to a crowded booth or through the isle than being blocked by a huge stroller.

5.      Print out address labels on sticker paper with your name, address, email, phone, and wedding date. This way you and your bridesmaids won’t spend 5 minutes at every booth entering for door prizes, or writing your contact information out for those vendors that you would like to contact you after the show.

6.       Keep a pen in your pocket easy reachable. When you taste the most amazing cake or see the most gorgeous gown in a catalog, write a star or quick note on their business card.  This way when you get home and empty your bags out you remember which stores you want to visit.

7.       Look first for vendors handing out bags, start there this way you can fill them up and not be stuck hands full of paper. Go around to all booths even if you think you know who you are booking for that category still grab business cards or flyers in case something happens like that vendor isn’t available for your date.

8. Enjoy the day.  How many times in your life will you plan your wedding.

These tips hopefully will help you feel less overwhelmed. Bridal shows are extremely informative and we vendors have a ton of knowledge to help you!   Go slow and keep your cool, talk to vendors even if there is a wait to reach their booth, you never know what help they may end up being.

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Nicole’s Cute and Pink Wedding

We recently created one of my all time favorite Chuppah’s for Nicoles May 1st Nuptuals, at Star Hill Ranch. We started with a clean slate in the cute little Chapel!

After a trial run at the studio, it was time to create the basic structure on site.

We then started hanging hot pink stock, Dendrobium Orchids and crystals strands all over the Chuppah. Here is the finished product!  Photos courtesy of Studio 563.  Thank you Andy and Andi! You Rock!

So cute!  <3

Until next time!

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Old, New, Borrowed and Blue… Common Wedding Traditions Revealed

Today’s popular wedding traditions have evolved over hundreds, even thousands of years of people joining together in some form of matrimony. Some wedding traditions that have endured are based on blessing the couple with good luck; others are a means for the couple to convey their feelings for one another. Regardless of the wedding tradition itself, all wedding traditions share the same essential symbols of unity, happiness and prosperity; messages that stand the test of time.

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

The saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” is a popular rhyme that has been used since Victorian times. The “something old” represents the bond to the bride’s family and her old life; “something new” represents the couple’s new life together and their future hope for happiness, prosperity and success; “something borrowed” from a happily married woman is meant to impart similar happiness to the bride; and “something blue” represents fidelity and constancy.

White Bridal Dresses

Wearing white also dates back to Victorian times when Queen Victoria abandoned the usual royal tradition of wearing a silver gown, instead choosing to wear white. Before that time brides simply wore their best gown, rather than a special wedding dress . The popularity of white can also be attributed to it symbolizing purity and virginity. White was also thought to ward off evil spirits.

Throwing Rice

Showering the couple with rice is an ancient tradition. As rice is considered a “life giving” seed it is thought that by throwing in on the couple they will be bestowed with fertility and have many children. Many churches now forbid it on their property but there are some safe alternatives to throwing rice .

Cake Sharing

Sharing the first piece of wedding cake is a wedding tradition with Roman roots. The Romans believed that by eating the wedding cake together a special bond was created between the couple. The wheat used to bake the cake was symbolic of fertility and a “fruitful union”, while the cake’s sweetness was thought to bring sweetness to all areas of the couple’s new life.

The Kiss

The ceremonial kiss that concludes the wedding ceremony is said to represent the couple sharing and joining their souls. In Roman times the kiss “sealed” the couple’s agreement to join in a life-long commitment. There are so many traditions that I could go on and on about them all, but instead, I think I will save some for a post later in the week.. Until next time,

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The Threat of Rain

There is an old saying that rain on your wedidng day is a  lucky omen.  The Italians even have a saying for it, “Sposa bagnata, sposa fotunata”, which means that a wet bride is a lucky bride.  In the U.S., it is commonly repeated that rain is lucky, although most bries would prefer a dry day and a little less luck.

Rain is also considered to be a good wedding omen in Germany, Sweden, and France.  This is possible because rain is associated with a bountiful harvest, and thus, fertility.  Some believe that the rainier the wedding day, the more children the marriage will produce.

However, not everyone considers rain to be a lucky charm; consider the old adage, “Happy is the bride whom the suns shines on”.  There are several superstitions that are said the ward off rain on the wedding day.  One is to feed your cat on the morning of the wedding (this is a strange one – shouldn’t you feed your cat every morning?).  Catholics can hang a rosary outdoors on the date of their nuptuals to put a stop to rain in time for the cermeony.  In parts of Spain, to avoid rain the bride or her mother can delvier a dozen freshly laid eggs to the nuns of the convent of St. Clare.

Whether you consider rain to be a lucky sign or not there is always a chance that it will fall onyour wedding date.  To make wet weather less of an issue, plan in advace for inclement weather.  If you are planning an outdoor wedding, check the Farmer’s Almanac for the driest times of the year in your hometown.  Also be prepared with shelter for guests and the couple, or a backup location if the weather forces you to move the cermeony inside.  For weddings in tents, order a floor to avoid having your reception in a mud pit.

If it does end up raining on your wedding day, the best thing to do is grin and bear it.  I once attended a weddding cermeony held in a park on a very wet day.  It was treacherous going down a steep hill of wet grass in high heels, but the couple posted usehers with large umbrellas and rain boots to escort the ladies to the cermeony site which was tented.  Some of the male wedding guests also pitched in to help.  It rained and rained, to the point where you could barely hear the musicians playing while the guests were being seated (an we were all wonderin ghow we would hear the vows).  Then the most amazing thing happened: just as the cermeony began, the rain stopped and the sky cleared.  The bride and groom exhcnaged their vows unde a beautiful beam of sunshine, which seemed like a lucky omen, indeed.

So if the weatherman predicts inclement wethar for your weddin day, just remember the Italian saying “Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata” A wet bride is a lucky bride.  If you don’t buy into the idea that rain is lucky, there is always the old standby: Rain, rain, go away – come again another day!

Until next time,

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