The White Rose: Its Meaning and When to Give It

When it comes to giving roses, the meaning behind the roses comes through in their color, and among the roses, the white rose is singular in the light it can bring to a room. Bringing a sense of purity as well as grace and honor, standing alone the white rose can represent the innocence of life’s purest moments or it can bring softness to the meaning of an arrangement.

The seemingly higher meaning of the white rose is what makes it so ideal for life’s special moments, such as for weddings, baby showers, or engagements. At Venus et Fleur®, we make personally customized floral arrangements for all these occasions. While only you can know the exact message you want to send, our Eternity® roses and other flowers will help that message reverberate all year long, and for most white-rose occasions, a lasting symbol is in order.

The special meaning of the white rose is one steeped in history, all of it building on our perception of the white rose today and providing insight for the next flower arrangement with white roses that you consider.

The History of the White Rose and Its Meaning

The color of a flower’s petal is important in choosing the right ones for a special occasion. Roses come in many colors, each representing a different emotion. White roses are often seen as the traditional flower for weddings, earning them the name the “bride’s flower,” so they make great engagement gifts as well. But apart from the marital or bridal theme from white flowers, they also make great graduation, funeral, or housewarming gifts, and all because of the meaning provided by their history.

HISTORY OF THE WHITE ROSE

In ancient Greece, the white rose was a symbol of the goddess Aphrodite, who was later renamed Venus by the Romans. She embodies the ideas of feminine beauty, love, and sexuality. She played an important role in the Iliad and was one of the three goddesses present at the wedding that eventually led to the Trojan War.

There is a myth that all roses were white, until Aphrodite pricked her foot on a thorn, dripping her blood onto the roses and causing them to turn red. This happened after Cupid, or Eros, accidentally shot the stems with an arrow, causing them to grow thorns. Perhaps representing some acceptance that few things can be completely pure, and certainly not all of one thing.

It may even have been Aphrodite who made roses so prominent, as she was often presented with flowers by her followers in ancient Greece. Because of this tradition, giving certain flowers to a woman is another way to tell her that you view her as a goddess. If you want to tell your significant other that she means the world to you, a bouquet of red roses can show your passion, but pairing them with white can show the purity in that passion.

ENGLAND’S INFLUENCE

In 14th century England, the War of the Roses took place. This war was between the Duke of York and the Lancaster family. The Duke’s family symbol was the white rose, and the Lancaster family symbol was the red rose, giving the War of the Roses its name.

While this may have given some momentum to the Rose after its fall from prominence in Rome, the War of the Roses thankfully left the meaning of white roses unchanged. The white rose continued to embody the main aspects of Aphrodite — true love and feminine beauty. 

Much later, the tradition of white roses being used in bridal bouquets became popular when Queen Victoria walked down the aisle in 1840 with her own set of white roses. You could argue that this is when roses started to take back their current prominence.

IN CHRISTIANITY

Of course, both the Roman Empire and the Church of England were christian communities, so this could be why the white rose earned its almost angelic impression. It was often used to represent the virgin Mary, and is seen widely in Christian and particularly, Catholic images. She is sometimes called the “Mystical Rose of Heaven,” where the rose represents purity and joy. With Mary’s connection to the white rose, they “rose” to popularity in medieval gardens. 

THE DIFFERENT MEANINGS OF THE WHITE ROSE

Although it carries a few traditional connotations, depending on when or how it is received, the white rose can mean many different things. Our classic arrangements can make the perfect gift in any setting, carrying a message and meaning fully customized by you.

AT WEDDINGS 

White roses can symbolize the young love that the bride has for her soon-to-be spouse. These flowers can carry the message of purity, loyalty, and innocence. Because of this, they are often at the center of any wedding decoration theme.

White roses are also meant to form the foundation of a relationship, which is why they are often seen on a wedding day. When the couple has been together for a little while, red roses can then be given as a gift between them. This change in color shows the growth of love between the couple.

The white rose focuses on the relationship and loyalty between the married couple and puts their love on display. A bouquet of these beautiful flowers is the perfect gift for an anniversary if you want to tell your partner that you love them as much as the day you first married.

White roses can also be gifted to the other important people in your life, not just your spouse. They can be given to your close family or others you love in some of their most special moments or trying times, bringing hope, honor, and a soft light with them.

AT FUNERALS

As we alluded to, white roses aren’t always for a celebration or joyous occasion, sometimes they’re used to show sympathy or at a funeral. They carry with them a sense of purity and a tie to holiness, as well as wishing the departed well on their path to heaven.

At an emotional time, white roses act as a way to bring peace to the grieving family. They might be at the funeral in a variety of arrangements, including on wreaths and crosses. At Venus et Fleur, some of our best options for a funeral include the Le Plein, the Grandiose DE Venus™, the Round Grandiose, or any number of our elegant vases with flower arrangements.

AT GRADUATION PARTIES

Another place where white roses are common to encounter is at a graduation party. Graduates are often given white roses as a way to tell them that their accomplishment is recognized and to impart hope and honor for their new beginning.

Unlike their meaning at funerals, a white rose in a graduation setting carries a lot of hope and positive energy. If you have anyone in your family graduating soon, you might consider sending them an arrangement of gorgeous white roses for good luck — they will be certain to love them.

In particular, a sophisticated arrangement of white roses could mean a lot to someone completing their higher education. Those graduating from a master’s, doctorate, or nursing program would fondly look upon their arrangement, all the hard work that went into it, and all the new opportunities it represents.

OTHER TIMES TO GIFT WHITE ROSES

Aside from the more formal and momentous moments in life, there are other times when sending someone you care about an arrangement of white roses can be seen as a great sympathy gift. If you have a friend who is sick, a white rose can send them hope and be a symbol of good health in the future.

White flowers are also seen as a way to restore balance in your life. If you know of a family who is struggling, then sending them a bouquet of white roses to display in their home is said to help give them a prosperous future. 

In that same vein, this also makes white roses a great gift for new homeowners at their housewarming, new neighbors, or friends who are moving away, as they symbolize a hope of pure and honorable life in this new stage. This makes them wonderful as a welcome present, to say farewell, or to wish someone good luck.

Give the White Rose as a Gift at Weddings, Graduations, and More


With the history of the white rose behind it, it’s no wonder that this flower rose to prominence as the flower of choice for some of life’s biggest, most transitional moments. The next time you need flowers for a wedding, graduation, funeral, or just to say congratulations and good luck, you know what rose to use. For all those moments, shop with Venus et Fleur, and we’ll help you send just-the-right-message, with the longest-lasting arrangements and flowers fully customized by you.