When planning a funeral, there are a lot of choices to make. One of the things most associated with a funeral is flowers. But what do specific flowers and colours represent? Here’s a guide to help with themes and floral tributes.
What do Flowers Mean?
Flowers can be used as an expression of love, commonly used as gifts and for things like valentine’s day, but they can also be used to express sympathy, respect and comfort. Any of these uses are valid for a funeral. They can bring beauty and warmth to the service.
History of Using Flowers for Funerals
One of the earliest and most famous uses of flowers at a funeral was at President Andrew Jackson’s service in 1874. The use of flowers in this case was very practical, as they were used for odour control because President Jackson’s body was not embalmed.
In 1951, even earlier evidence of using flowers as a tribute was found in a cave in Northern Iraq during an excavation, thought to be from as long as 80,000 years ago. Flowers have now become a decorative choice.
Colours in General
If you’re looking to use a specific colour for the funeral but aren’t sure what to choose, here’s a general guide of what each colour of flower usually represents:
- Red flowers can mean strength, love and devotion or respect
- Orange flowers signify joy, enthusiasm and warmth
- Yellow flowers symbolise warmth, as well as hope and friendship
- Blue flowers represent peace but also sadness and sympathy
- Purple flowers mean admiration, respect, sympathy and sorrow
- Pink flowers signify compassion, innocence and grace
- Green flowers represent nature, wellness and renewal
- White flowers can stand for purity, elegance, reverence and eternal love
When picking a colour for the flowers, you can take any one of these meanings, it doesn’t have to involve every single meaning.
You can use these specific flowers or colours because of their meaning, but you can also use your choice of colour for other reasons, such as it being the favourite colour of the deceased.
The colour can be used for other parts of the funeral other than flowers too. You could use them as a dress theme, with everyone wearing clothes or an accessory in the chosen colour. The colour theme could also apply to the coffin/urn, the funeral hearse and any other part of the funeral service.
Flower Arrangement Types
Flowers can be used in many ways and put in many places in regard to a funeral. They can be arranged into shapes such as crosses, hearts and names like “nan” or “mum” which will then be placed in the hearse with the coffin. Wreaths can also be placed on top of the coffin.
Flowers can be displayed during services, at the wake and later placed on and around the grave.
What Specific Types of Flower Can Symbolise
Here is what flowers commonly used for funerals can mean:
- Daisies symbolise peace and hope
- Lavender represent grace, devotion, purity
- Tulips can mean love, peace and hope
- Irises signify faith, hope, courage, wisdom and admiration
- Carnations are a popular choice, symbolising love as well as sympathy and grief
In the UK, lilies are the most popular choice of funeral flower. In general, they represent life after death and the deceased’s soul being renewed and returned to a state of innocence. Lilies signify light and purity.
Different types of lilies have added meanings:
- White stargazer lilies symbolise ambition, compassion and sympathy.
- Oriental lilies represent eternal life
- Peace lilies symbolise rebirth
- Casablanca lilies signify celebration and positivity
- Yellow lilies can mean thankfulness
Roses are very popular and used all around the world for many different occasions. For funerals, white roses express purity, humility and innocence. Red roses express love and respect, whilst pink roses represent gratefulness.
Orchids symbolise love and beauty but each colour can add another meaning or intention.
- Red – affection, desire, strength, bravery
- Blue – individualism, rarity
- Green – good fortune, luck, health, nature and longevity
- Yellow – friendship, happiness, new beginnings
- Orange – pride, strength
- Pink – joy, happiness, innocence, femininity
- Purple – admiration, appreciation, dignity
- White – reverence, innocence, purity
Whilst understanding meanings behind flowers may help with your choices, the flowers and other decisions you make for a funeral service are ultimately up to you and what you think your loved one would’ve wanted. For more advice, speak with a funeral director.