Wedding bouquets in the 1930s

Updated April 17, 2017

Ancient Greek and Roman brides began a tradition of wearing garlands of fresh herbs, including garlic, on their wedding day to stave off evil spirits. The Celts incorporated heather, ivy and thistle in their bridal bouquets. The 1840 marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert von Saksen-Coburg saw the Queen carrying a bridal bouquet of fresh flowers. Many brides since have carried fresh flowers in their bouquets and most would agree that the wedding day is not complete without them.


Money was scarce during the Great Depression, which consumed much of the decade of the 1930s. People had to use what was readily available to them. To date, brides had not ventured from the traditional white, ivory or cream colour floral arrangements. (This would not happen until the 1950s.) Unless they came from wealth, most brides utilised flowers that were locally grown. During this time period, several styles of bouquets were popular.

Cascade or Shower Bouquet

The cascade bouquet, which is considered to be the most formal of arrangements, would be round at the top, near the bride's hands, and spill over in a cascade of greens, ribbons and flowers. Some would nearly touch the ground. This style complemented the bias cut gown, which was made fashionable during the '30s. The bias cut gown was made by cutting the fabric on the cross grain rather than the straight grain. By doing so, the gown had a body contouring fit and looked almost like a second skin.

The larger, more traditional of these particular bouquets, was renamed the princess bouquet, after the 1981 marriage of Princess Diana to Prince Charles.

Arm Bouquet or Bernhardt Bouquet

The arm bouquet, which often used calla lilies and long stem roses, was also quite trendy in the 1930s. This style is designed to be held in the bride's arm and could be as simple or intricate as desired. Long stemmed flowers, gladiolus, calla lilies, delphiniums or long stemmed roses were most often the flowers of choice for this style. Ribbons were often woven in to the design.


The nosegay was a round shaped bouquet of closely filled flowers with much more greenery than other styles. It was usually styled within a small cone-shaped vessel of metal or glass, known as a tussie-mussie. Ribbons were often used to accent the flowers. Generally, two or three flowers were the central feature surrounded by herbs and greens. Central flower choices included roses, tulips and carnations.


The posy is a simple bouquet which is round in shape and designed to be held by just one hand. Often, the natural stems were wrapped in ribbon and embellished with a beads or pearls. Flowers of choice for this style included roses, tulips and peonies.

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About the Author

Based in central New York, Laura Slivinski has been writing and reviewing technical reports since 1999. She attended Onondaga Community College and Syracuse University and was a private investigator for many years. Slivinski is certified as an email tracing investigator, a wireless security investigator and a Level II insurance fraud investigator.