The Tradition of the Rose Ceremony
The bride and groom exchange roses to each other, placing them in a shared vase. This symbolizes the act of giving oneself to the other in order to be joined as one.
The beauty of the rose is that it is a long-time symbol for love. Like any flower, the rose begins as a bud and eventually opens into full bloom, paralleling the growth of the bride and groom’s relationship. Usually the roses given are red, the color of love.
In terms of the covenant marriage, the symbol of the rose hearkens us to the person of Christ. Isaiah 35:1-2 speaks of the joy that comes with the fulfillment of Christ’s coming, the redeemed in Zion: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.”
The Rose of Sharon was a common rose in the verdant land of Sharon. It grew out of dry ground, yet blossomed into magnificent splendor. Such was Jesus. Budding from a dry and common root, His glory was revealed as his person and his ministry blossomed. So too will the contrast be between this fallen world and the Kingdom to come. (See here for more symbolic connections between Jesus and the Rose of Sharon.)
Exchanging roses combines the contemporary symbolism of saying, “I love you,” with the eternal symbolism of Christ’s love for us serving as the foundation for love in marriage.
Photo © Carole Gomez