Bows have been used in decorations for hundreds and hundreds of years. We use them in our every day lives, to make knots that will look pretty as well as come undone easily, to decorate our dresses, to wrap our gifts, to hang about our necks. Bows are also used very often in weddings, especially elegant bows made out of expensive fabrics. In fact, many different wedding themes and color schemes require ribbons and bows by nature.
A prime example of bows in weddings is to use in flower displays. The bride's bouquet has to be tied together somehow, and it is usually done with a complex, loopy, decorative ribbon. Bows are also sometimes used in the ordinary flower displays on the tables and in the corners of the room. It helps compose the whole feel of the wedding more to have a common element such as ribbon.
Bows are also used on chair covers and table cloths. Many chair cover rental places, especially chair cover rentals San Diego, incorporate massive amounts of bows in wedding linens. Sometimes these linens use a single, simple, but very large bow. Other times the linens are positively dripping with tiny adorable knots. It is popular practice to tuck flowers, seashells, small candies, and giant lollipops into the knot of these bows, for it adds a decorative flair and gives the guest a nice souvenir to take home.
Bows can be seen quite ubiquitously on articles of clothing. Many dresses boast a giant bow on the lower back, or several small bows in various parts of the dress. Lots of girls have been known to wear bows in their hair ornaments, and men have been known to tie bows around their throats. Bows are also used on shoes. High heeled shoes tend to have large, fluffy ribbons or a row of tiny decorative bows, and many men's shoestrings are tied into a rather scrawny, unisex bow.
Enthusiastic jewelry designers have even utilized the bow shape in metal work. These new jewelry pieces are not necessarily seen at weddings, but they are sold by a large number of major retailers and would match a wedding party dress quite nicely. Regular bows in jewelry are used to adorn flowers attached to the wrist or buttonhole. Some girls follow pre-Revolution French Fashion and even tie jaunty girly bows around their necks, though these are more related to the chocker than they are to the man's bowtie.
The large, cloth bows used so often in chair covers and wedding linens or by wedding linen rentals companies are probably inspired by the giant bows that girls are so often apt to tie about their waists. This might have been the Elizabethan/French/Victorian style that enjoyed exaggerating women's hips through large, fluffy clothing elements. It is a bit of a far stretch to compare it to the Japanese obi, though the elements are same, the knot itself is completely different.
Elegant bows are also used to adorn wedding gifts. Weddings are decadent and luxurious, and the wrapping on wedding gifts usually follows the same path. People are apt to use the most elegant paper they can find and top it all off with a beautiful, expensive bow that neither the bride nor groom will ever have the heart to throw away.
In the same style as wedding linens, chair cover rentals, and wedding table cloths, large cloth bows are also commonly pinned to the draperies on the walls and over the windows. Complex, loose, draping pieces of cloth provide endless entertainment to interior designers, and it is only natural that these materials go along perfectly with complex knots and elegant bows. Bows are sometimes even hung from the lamps and gently nailed to the ceilings.
Bows are, however, never ever put on the floor. People would be more likely to trip over them than admire them. Bows are also used very rarely in food, especially in meat and vegetable dishes. When bows are used in food, they are most often used in desserts, where the light, fluffy shape is aesthetically pleasing and makes for an absolutely adorable confection. They are also used to dress up the cake as elegantly as possible, though bakery bows are usually made from edible materials.
Bows are also not usually used in napkins. This may be because the napkin designer wanted the cloth to be as smooth as possible, for maximum mouth-wiping efficiency. Either that, or napkins are so often washed that the bows would have been damaged in the process. Either way, there are very few things on the dining table (aside from flowers, tablecloths, and perhaps wedding favors) that actually utilize bows.