Monday, May 25, 2015

Wedding Crap: Bouquet & Garter Tosses

(See introduction and disclaimer to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

What is the tradition? 

During the reception, the groom takes a garter off the bride's leg, has all the single men gather, and tosses it to them for one to catch. Similarly, the bride has all the single women father, and tosses her bouquet to them for one to catch. Superstition has it that the two catchees will be the next people to marry. In some cases, the man who caught the garter also proceeds to put the garter on the leg of the woman who caught the bouquet.

What is the origin of the tradition?

Most likely based on some combination of community involvement in helping make sure the marriage was consummated, and that the bride was considered good luck, at some point it became common for guests to grab at the bride's clothing as the couple left the wedding. To appease them without losing her clothing, brides began throwing the bouquet or small articles - like a garter - to the guests instead. 

Why do people still follow it?

Fortunately, I think both tosses are starting to become less popular. The act of singling out the single guests is seen as less than respectful of your loved ones who came to celebrate with you, and the sexual removal of an undergarment from the bride in front of all her relatives has begun to be seen as the tacky event that it is. 

Ultimately, I think those who do participate are looking it at simply as good old fun. It can be readily boiled down to as essentially a party game, so what's the harm?

Why is that crap? 

Underneath that party game, though, both the underlying tradition (either treating the consummation of a marriage as a matter of public importance, or treating the bride as merely an object that can raided for good luck charms), and the actions who make your guests under go (pointing out marital status in a denigrating manner, acting in an overtly sexual manner with your spouse in front of your guests, or coercing two complete strangers into acting in an overtly sexual manner with each other in front your guests), contain an ickiness that can is not worth ignoring for the sake of fun. 

What am I doing with this tradition?

There was no garter or bouquet to toss, and we didn't have a dance floor or similar venue with which to host any sort of little games or activities anyway. If I had had a bouquet, I might have considered using one of the alternatives I've heard of, of ceremonially giving your bouquet to a special guest - perhaps a mother or grandmother, or the longest married couple in the room.

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.


  1. I've always thought the garter thing was odd! The tossing of the bouquet doesn't seem nearly as tacky, that just seems fun if some gals want to participate, but the garter...I don't now just a bit much.

    1. Yeah, regardless of other arguable issues, there's really no way for the garter to not be inherently sexual to some degree, so at a family event... no thanks! Though I've always chosen to not participate in the bouquet toss (and fortunately not been coerced into it!) some crowds do enjoy it.

  2. I think you're right that these traditions are disappearing. I have never been to a wedding with a garter toss, and I can't remember seeing a bouquet toss since I was a kid. Personally the thing that would stop me from doing either is the uncomfortable singling out of single people (even if it's optional)., why??

    1. Right?! It's such a weird, almost fetishization, of being married. Because of course everyone want to get married, right? That's point of winning the toss. So pointing out the single people while encouraging marriage seems so denigrating, even if the couple doesn't personally think so, that's basically what you're saying by doing the toss with single people.


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