Thank you for your question.
Here's an interesting tradition with floral wreaths:
"...Switzerland - After the vows have been taken, the bride?s floral
wreath, which symbolises her maidenhood, is removed and set on fire by
the mistress of ceremonies. If it burns quickly it is considered to be
The Miss Czech pagent mentions:
"...Women's kroje are usually more elaborate than men's kroje. The
head covering may be a cap, scarf, headband, ribbons, or even a floral
This page on Egyptian flowers also has an interesting tidbit on wreaths:
"...During the Greco-Roman Periods, mummies continued o be provided
with floral decorations, though these were usually made in a new way
and frequently used more imported plants. In these, individual
flowers, petals, stamens or twigs were bound together into small
bunches and joined together into compact wreaths. New flower types
included the rose (Rosa richardii), the Indian lotus (Nelumbo
nucifera), immortelle (Helichrysum stoechas), lychnis (Lychnis
coelirosa), jasmine (Jasminum sambac) and the little marjoram bush
(Marjorana hortensis). Sometimes, artificial flowers made of copper
leaf or colored wool were also added to the arrangement. The base for
these wreaths was very frequently pieces of decorated stalks of the
sedge Scirpus inclinatus..."
In an article on the history of bridal flowers, I found:
"...In the last 200 years, flowers have been an integral part of the
entire wedding ritual. The event that most influenced present day
weddings occurred in the early 1800s with the marriage of Queen
Victoria of England to Prince Albert. Their ceremony departed from
past royal weddings in that Victoria's gown was of white satin trimmed
with orange flower blossoms accompanied by a Honiton lace veil
anchored to a wreath of orange blossoms in her hair. Even though
wedding gowns of various colors continued to be used, Victoria firmly
established the ideal of the white wedding dress from that day to
...The 1960s and 1970s styles reflected social changes in American
society and a return to nature. Ceremonies were performed in parks and
forests, beside waterfalls and at the ocean. Brides carried simple arm
and hand bouquets without artificial accessories. Baby's breath and
daisies were a popular duo and natural earth colors were featured
instead of gold and silver. A floral wreath or a small bouquet of
flowers was often worn on the head by brides instead of a veil..."
In a Friend's of Mount Hope Newsletter, I found the following:
"...SYMBOLISM IN MT. HOPE
The wreath, a symbol from the ancients, can be found on many monuments
in Mt. Hope. Not only was it used as a symbol of death and mourning,
and formed an eternal Circle, but it also symbolized honor, triumph,
special achievement, and bravery. The emperors crown of gold laurel
leaves and the winners wreath of green laurel leaves were common in
ancient Rome. Withered remains of wreaths 4,500 years old were found
in an Egyptian Pharaoh's burial pyramid.
Today wreaths are still used: a winners floral wreath at a horse race,
a welcoming lei in Hawaii, oak or laurel wreaths in some medal
designs, as well as funeral wreaths, memorial wreaths, and the use of
wreaths on monuments.
The clasped hands within the wreath indicate farewell and a hope of
meeting again in eternity..."
As to the earliest use of floral wreaths, the same page on Egyptian flowers notes:
"...A very few mummies have been found with wreath-shaped arrangements
on their heads. For example the remains of a few leafs were found in
the hair of Amenhotep II, and a small floral garland once hung around
the royal insignia on the brows of the first and second coffins of
Tutankhamun. In fact, some of the later Books of the Dead (Books of
Going Fourth by Day) present, for the first time, a round floral
wreath as the symbol of successfully withstanding the Tribunal of the
Dead before Osiris.
Other plants were also used in the funerary process. For example, bulb
leaves from a Crinum variety, which is not indigenous to Egypt, were
used to cover the eyes, nose, mouth and mummification incisions of one
mummy. The remains of narcissus bulbs (Narcissus tazetta) were found
on the neck of Ramesses II, and on the chest of a female mummy, the
bulbs of a type of lily were discovered.
The Egyptian not only adorned the dead with floral wreaths, but in
many cases, also some of the funerary equipment. For example, the
statuette of the deceased in the 18th Dynasty tomb of Kha, as well as
divine statuettes and even jugs that contained food and drink in the
Tomb of Tutankhamun were provided with such floral arrangements..."
I don't think we will be able to confirm uses of floral wreaths prior
to that, even though its likely wreaths were used in even earlier
cultures, it would be hard to find verification of that.
And this page on botanical specimens seems to confirm:
"...There is also older material of Olea europaea L., present at Kew,
from Tutankhamen's tomb (dated to c. BC 1400-1350; Thebes 18th
Dynasty), but those specimens originate from a floral wreath :
1) 2 x phials of olive nuts and 1 x small box of olive fruits from the tomb
2) 2 x packets of olive leaves from the floral wreath..."
Now, as to largest suppliers...
By far, the largest supplier of flowers and flower products worldwide is FTD:
"..."Founded in 1910, FTD is the largest floral company in the world.
The leader in quality, artistry and dependability, FTD connects
approximately 18,000 North American retail florists and supports an
international floral delivery network of 52,000 affiliated FTD
Florists in 154 countries. FTD can deliver products to 99.8% of the
U.S. population. FTD stands behind a 100% satisfaction guarantee on
all orders sent through FTD for delivery within the U.S. and
I also found this information interesting for US Sales:
"...Retail floral sales in the US total about $14 billion a year--$8
billion from sales of potted plants and vases, and $6 billion from
fresh flowers--but the business is very fragmented. There are about
9,700 US flower growers, 1,000 wholesalers, 27,000 retail florists,
and 23,000 floral operations in supermarkets. The industry spends
about $100 million a year to promote flower sales.
The largest player is USA Floral, a company whose sales are projected
to be $560 million in 1998; it buys smaller companies and permits them
to keep operating under their own names. Number two is Dole Food
Company, with sales of $4.3 billion a year, including $200 million
from flowers. In 1998, Dole bought the largest flower wholesaler in
Florida, flower farms in South America, and in August 1998 announced
plans to acquire CCI Farms, a grower and marketer of fresh
And for just a little more on the big players in the flower business:
Company: When they?re not busy fertilizing flower beds with their
competitors? corpses, the world?s largest floral company is busy
employing 50,000-plus florists in over 150 countries...
Company: Founded in 1911, Hallmark rakes in $4 billion annually
selling gifts that nobody wants. In 1999 the company started hawking
Ordering: The concise Web design offers options by cost (under $40,
$60?$70, etc.) and occasion...
Company: What began in 1976 as a tiny Manhattan flower shop has
inflated Marlon Brando?style into a 24/7 phone and Internet goliath
that, each Valentine?s Day, sells over 2.5 million roses...
Regardless, hundreds of sites agree that FTD is the largest floral
company in the world.
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I trust my research has provided you with ansers to your questions on
wreaths. If a link above should fail to work or anything require
further explanation or research, please do post a Request for
Clarification prior to rating the answer and closing the question and
I will be pleased to assist further.