The Wedding Tradition I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Love

This fall I was at a wedding (flying solo, I might add, as two flights for our household twice in 4 weeks was too much) and the time came for the bride to toss the bouquet. I’ve always thought I was a pretty traditional girl and I like a lot of wedding traditions. I love a playful cake smash. I’m the most enthusiastic dancer to SHOUT. I enjoy those silly, expected things.

bridal bouquet

So when the DJ announced that all the single girls should head to the foot of the staircase for the bouquet toss, I hesitated. The girl who catches the bouquet is the one who’s supposed to get married next, right? Well hey, I’m not going to pass up a chance for that to be me. But then again, I would never group myself into the “single gals” category. That’s just not where I am in my life. It felt a little disrespectful to N. There is a great possibility that I was over thinking all of this, as over thinking things is definitely my m.o.

I followed the lead of another girl at my table who was at the wedding with her long-term boyfriend. She went and I followed. But as I stood there with maybe 10 other ladies, I felt pretty pathetic. A little desperate. Add in my complete lack of athleticism and I knew I had a zero percent chance of catching that bouquet, nor did I want to. I felt like jumping for it elaborately or making a wild effort would just emphasize that feeling. So I smiled and stood completely still, as the bride tossed the bouquet into the hands of someone else. Relief washed over me.

I decided almost instantly that I wouldn’t continue this tradition if we go the wedding route. I don’t know that I’ll participate in the future either. It just didn’t make me feel good. Again, this totally could have everything to do with me over thinking things. I’ve been guilty of that many times. I also completely understand why brides do it. It’s tradition! It’s supposed to be fun! I guess I’m wondering how other women really feel about the bouquet toss? Do you participate? How does it make you feel? Did you do one at your wedding?

Aside from that, it’s a damn expensive little bit of your wedding to just toss away. In other news, I now know that bouquet is not a word I’m capable of spelling correctly the first time. Happy Thursday.

YOU MIGHT LIKE:
  • I don’t know why, but I like the toss. I threw one, and I just think it’s all in fun, as is the garter. I don’t consider myself traditional at all but I do like traditions. That’s the only reason why I think I’m for it.

  • I had a separate toss bouquet and threw it for tradition’s sake – and one of my best friends caught it. It worked for her – she was engaged less than a month later. That said, prior to being married, I did always find it awkward too. I have heard of brides going the route of giving it to a grandparent or the couple in attendance who’s been married the longest, and I think that’s a lovely tradition too.

    • I really, REALLY love that idea – the couple in attendance who’s been married the longest! I’m getting married in April and I think I will take this idea. Thank you!

      I agree with you, Nadine – it’s extremely uncomfortable. Especially since I’m older and many more of my friends are already married .. but it’s like saying, you NEEEEEEED to be married in order to be fulfilled and complete? No thank you.

  • I didn’t do it at my wedding (isn’t it kind of mean?) and I had a lot of people come up to me and be like “thank you for not doing the dumb bouquet toss!”

  • we didn’t do one. i hated the idea of it and our families are so large that we didn’t invite many friends and HONESTLY i’m thankful. (we also skipped the garter because neither of us were thrilled about jason’s first time seeing what’s under my skirt in front of our grandparents.) instead we had a small bouquet and extra boutonniere (holy spelling) made and did a dance where each married couple entered the floor and was eliminated based on how long they’d been married until my grandparents -married 66 years at our wedding- were the last two standing. they were pinned and given the bouquet and i just remember loving the testament it was to life-long marriage especially as ours was just beginning. PLUS they were being commended for something they’ve certainly worked hard at versus feeling singled out and animalistic chasing a bouquet through the air.

    and off my soap box i go.

  • I find the whole thing weird because, you are right, those that are single (i.e. not married) are really in a relationship. I had a dance with all couples and slowly had couples leave the dance floor based on the length of time they have been together. The first couples off the dance floor were those unmarried, then married for under 5 years, and so on. The remaining couple received a floral display, as well as, gave us advice on being married as long as them. 🙂 I love it!

  • I definitely understand your thought process on this one. It didn’t bother me in any wedding I ever attended while I was dating my boyfriend (now husband) for five years because it just felt so silly and light hearted. No one genuinely thought that the bouquet or garter meant anything. And quite honestly, if they had, they probably wouldn’t have volunteered to catch it!

    Funny thing though, I tossed my bouquet (which I put together myself with Costco bulk ordered flowers by the way) and one of my bridesmaids caught it. Two weeks later her boyfriend of 8 years proposed and they’re getting married next week. Even though he’d already had the ring for weeks, it was pretty funny, and maybe the only time I’ve EVER heard of anything like that happening.

  • JC

    This is actually a conversation that i have had recently while discussing my wedding. I never particularly liked the tossing of the bouquet, and hated the whole garter thing, so it probably wont happen, despite the number of times my mother in law tells me I disappoint her.

  • I HATE that part of the wedding. It makes me feel really awkward.

  • I did it at our wedding because, youre right, its a tradition! I rationalized the whole single lady thing at other weddings because “technically” you are considered single unless you are married. Facebook had to come up with “in a relationship” and “its complicated” to give us choices because its not so black and white these days. I was with my husband for 6 years before we were married, I was not “single” by any stretch of the imagination, nor would i ever describe myself that way… i think the bouquet toss is supposed to be fun, and I think it is fun for those who want to participate. No one actually believes that catching that bouquet means they will be next to marry. I’m not sure that any that I have been in have been mean spirited, and I have never thought that participating made me or anyone else look pathetic. All of that being said, I can see where you are coming from and I think that is totally valid and agree that not participating or having one is a good way to go. There are plenty of other things going on at weddings anyway!!

  • i was completely and totally in love with my bouquet I didn’t want to give it to ANYONE. so I didn’t do the bouquet toss and I was perfectly happy with that. I took my flowers home!!

  • Laura

    As I get older (29) pretty much a but 3 of my college friends are married, myself included in those 3. I was at a wedding 2 months ago and absolutely didn’t want to do the bouquet toss. Two of my engaged friends literally dragged me on the dance floor to do it. I’m sure they didn’t mean to be hurtful, but I felt almost like I was on display with the other girls, who were much younger. And it’s now a tiny group of girls vying for the bouquet.

    I’ve been with my boyfriend almost 2 years and am really hoping for a ring soon, so I may be especially sensitive to this. But I learned no way will I do a bouquet toss at my own wedding.

  • I know that I won’t be tossing my bouquet because I want to hang on to that sucker, especially since they are so darn expensive. If I had one specifically for tossing, then I would toss it though. It all depends I guess.

  • I didn’t toss the bouquet at my wedding either, for two reasons. One – I made my bouquet myself and I didn’t want to ruin it. Several people mentioned just using a bridesmaids bouquet, but I wanted them to keep thiers. Whether or not the actually kept them was up to them, but I wanted to give them all an opportunity. Secondly, I don’t have many single friends! I have a few, but since our wedding was so small, most everyone there was either married or in a long term, serious relationship. I didn’t feel like embarrassing or forcing anyone to do anything they would be uncomfortable with – so I skipped it. No one even noticed.

  • We didn’t do the bouquet toss or the garter toss at our wedding, either – for one, we didn’t have a lot of single gals or guys there, for two, I didn’t want my brand new husband up my skirt in front of my grandmothers (or parents, for that matter!).

    So instead, we did a little contest. We had all the married couples in the room stand up. Then we told everyone who had been married for longer than 5 years to stay standing, everyone else sit down. Then we said longer than 10 years…everyone else sit down. We kept going until finally the last person standing was my great-aunt (my uncle didn’t make it to the wedding), married for over 50 years. We gave the bouquet away to her. It was really fun to get to hand my aunt the flowers and a cool way to celebrate marriage and commitment in general!!

  • It’s something I don’t care for and prefer to avoid…so not something I’d do at my own wedding. I usually try to shrink down at my table and ignore it, but then someone inevitably is like “HEY GIRL I SEE YOU OVER THERE. YOU’RE SINGLE, GET UP THERE!” and so I stand as far back as possible and retreat the instant I can. I’m not a don’t-look-at-me introvert, I’m the first one out on the dance floor, I just hate the bouquet toss. Glad I’m not alone here 🙂

  • Interesting idea. Maybe it’d be fun to do no toss & instead keep the bouquet as a memento. Like pop them in a vase like a regular bouquet to keep for a few days post wedding. :] // ☼ itsCarmen.com ☼

  • I’ve ever really liked the whole flower/garter toss. Mainly because I really don’t ever want to be the person in the middle of the room having a guy touch my leg. It gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it! I go up to the toss like all the other single ladies because I don’t check off that “married” box yet and it’s obviously important to the bride and groom. I feel like the photos always look better with a good group there so I do my part haha but I think it’s safe to say that I don’t plan on doing it for my own wedding.

  • I have only good memories of bouquet tosses–I guess I’ve never been anywhere where it’s really taken seriously. To me, it’s just something to laugh about. One bride, a friend of mine, tossed her bouquet so far sideways that it was hurtling straight at my little brother and he instinctively stuck his hand out and caught it. He was maybe 10 at the time, everyone thought it was the funniest thing ever. At my wedding, the “single ladies” encompassed mostly my little cousins (preteens) and one older lady in her 60s, a long time friend of the family who made a big deal about going up–she was totally hamming it up the whole time. A 12 year old girl caught it. My bouquet was fake, made of plastic flowers so it cost about $5 to make, so it didn’t hurt to throw it, either. Maybe it depends on the audience how well suited the tradition is.

  • I have never been a fan of the bouquet toss. I just got married in October and we did not do a toss at all. Pretty much everyone there was either married or in a serious/engaged relationship so it would have been younger family members and maybe one or two other guests which would have been just awkward and uncomfortable for everyone. Plus I just dislike the tradition. I think it makes people (especially “single people of marrying age” – whatever that means) feel self-conscious and maybe even sad which was not something that I wanted to promote. However, my florist was willing to offer a small toss bouquet to me at no additional charge. Not sure how many florists do that though!

  • I did at my wedding and no one caught it, they just let it fall at their feet until my friend finally picked it up.

  • It was super interesting reading everyone else’s comments- I had no idea so many people hated the bouquet toss! I can see how it could make you feel kinda bad, especially if you put a lot of weight on what it represents (like “yay I’m married- hopefully one of you gals will be too so you can be happy like me!”) but I honestly just see it as a fun, funny moment. The last wedding I went to one of the catering waitresses caught it because it was flying directly at her face haha that was super funny. But I can definitely see both sides- but I’m leaning more towards liking it 🙂

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

  • I got married 2 and a half years ago, and we opted not to do both the garter toss and the bouquet toss. We did this for many reasons, but just a few being 1. I always feel uncomfortable at the bouqet toss at other people’s weddings and wouldn’t have missed doing it, so I assumed people would feel the same at mine 2. I didn’t really need my grandma watching my new husband crawling up my leg with his face to get my garter 3. I feel like these are typically done later in the evening and can break up the flow of dancing…something I didn’t want to do if people were out there having a good time.

    All that being said, I think it’s such a strong-standing wedding tradition and if someone wants to have it be a part of their own wedding, that’s totally awesome and completely their call! I just ultimately knew I didn’t want it at my own wedding, and I certainly don’t think anyone missed it.

  • I’ve always hated that tradition too, for the same reasons as you. My husband and I dated for 6 years before we got engaged, and I never thought of myself as “single.” The dichotomy between “single” and “married” bugs me because there’s no room for people who consider themselves committed but haven’t made it legal yet. We definitely did not do the bouquet toss at our wedding.

  • Mar

    Our wedding was so untraditional – no bouquet toss, no garter, we didn’t even do a proper cake cutting. To be honest with you, we didn’t want to stop the epic party that was doing on. And not a single person cared or said anything about it.

  • Personally, I’ve never participated in the bouquet toss because I just don’t really appreciate what it stands for. Why is it that women are supposed to try to grab the bouquet but men are supposed to NOT want to catch the garter?! I mean, I know to some people it’s just all fun and games, but I just choose not to be a part of it because I don’t like the symbolism behind it. I guess it goes without saying we didn’t have either of these traditions at our wedding 🙂

  • Jae

    I’ve only been to very few weddings in my life, and I stopped participating in “bouquet tossing” when I got engaged. No further explanations necessary, I guess?

    Anyway, we didn’t have a traditional “bouquet tossing” at our wedding. Instead, our wedding coordinator came up with a sort of elimination game. We did the same thing for “garter tossing”, and it was so much fun!

  • My florist made a separate toss bouquet; just something simple with the same flowers but not expensive or photo-ready in any way. It was probably an extra $15.

    I agree though: it’s awkward to toss AND awkward to stand in the group on the receiving end.

  • I’m not a fan either. But mainly because I physically can’t run and jump to get it without breaking and if I just stand there I look like an idiot. So I always just don’t go up. My sister was supposed to have one, but I think they forgot. We had a separate bouquet and everything – but I’m pretty sure the actual toss never happened.

  • I agree. The bouquet toss exemplifies this weird idea that unless you’re married, your relationship doesn’t count. It’s also, to me at least, pretty sexist. Yes, there’s also the garter toss, but I don’t feel like that has nearly as much air of desperation around it in our culture. Personally, the idea of getting married makes me break out in hives, but the idea of a wedding with all these traditions focusing on the bride’s virginity, giving away the bride, saying “man and wife”, traditions that come out of a time when women were considered property, is even worse. I’m glad someone else agrees about the bouquet toss being a strange, uncomfortable tradition, because most everyone I know loves it.

  • I am completely with you on this, and I did not do a bouquet toss at my wedding!

  • I didn’t toss mine either. The dang thing was like $100 bucks!!! We didn’t do any of those traditions except first dance.

  • I did not throw a bouquet at my wedding. I didn’t even announce the bridal party. I do not like much attention on myself and I knew most of the bridal party didn’t either so I spared us all. Weddings have become such a performance lately I think. But to each their own.

  • Danielle

    I totally agree. I hate the tradition. I hated standing there both when I was truly single and when I was with my now husband but not yet married. I got married in June and did not do it and I’m sure people were happy about that!

  • I never tossed the bouquet when I got married, didn’t think about it so didn’t do it………..

  • Erin

    I did the toss at my wedding and although I don’t particularly remember exactly I’m guessing we did up a smaller throw away bouquet{I needed spell check too ;)}. I was a horrible tosser & almost took out ceiling lights, my sister snatched the flowers from my mom who was on a chair to be funny, Since the end of that marriage & being back in Ohio I’ve been to enough weddings of college friends that it take me more time than I care to give to count, being the single gal again in her late 20s/almost 30s I’ve had to dip back into that gaggle of gals that eagerly await the throwing of those special flowers(I have not been excited or enthusiastic & stand in the back)- although, even not caring does not mean that flower bunch won’t end up in your hands, yes- they’ve been mine once…it was unexciting & it’s obviously a bunch of bull. Plenty of the gals whose weddings I’ve since been to were also there and I obviously am still single and unmarried. I guess it’s a fun little tradition that people do because it’s always been done, but so is the ‘groom can’t see the bride day of’ bit but I think it’s all just superstitious & not worth more than you can throw best friend across a room…not much in other words. I’m not much a fan of being a participant these days but I recall I used to be excited(hopeful even) to get to participate in that part of the reception. I used to get sad when the DJ would somehow announce that all the single ladies of marriageable age should come to the dance floor.That usually meant I was out- too young n all…now I’m far less excited about basically being forced to go stand at the back of the pack to wait for the bride to toss the flowers to the pre-planned recipient(lame as well, just toss the damn thing!) And that should be the end of my babbly rant…
    Have a good weekend!

  • I have ALWAYS hated the bouquet toss. I think it is so awkward. I would actually get up and go to the bathroom before the toss sometimes to avoid the whole thing. When my fiance and I weren’t engaged I dreaded that part of any wedding we attended because we have been together for over 10 years so people were ALWAYS busting us about not being engaged so the bouquet toss was just yet another reminder to everyone that we weren’t married/engaged and the teasing was awful. Then I would over think the whole thing and thought people were staring at me the whole time. I vote NO for bouquet toss.

  • I really dislike the bouquet toss. It feels kind of degrading. And every time I’ve tried to bow out of it, the people around me throw a fit. What if I don’t want the flowers? What if I don’t want to be married next (or ever)?

    Some of my friends have given their bouquet to their mom or given it to the longest-married couple in attendance. I think those are better homes for the bouquet.

  • I loathe thebouquet toss. To me it’s wasted money, and a bunch of desperate looking girls running and jumping for this bouquet. I’ve tried to back out of it, but sometimes people force you into centrestage to go for it.

    I hate it so much, that when I got married last month, I didn’t do it.

  • I actually regret having done the bouquet toss at our wedding because it perpetuated the “tradition.” (We did tell the DJ not to do the forceful thing, so if anyone didn’t want to come up, we weren’t forcing them to.)

    It’s such an entrenched tradition though, when my mother got remarried they dug up a bunch of old traditions and did the garter and bouquet tosses. Since there were almost all married couples at the wedding, they made the married people participate under the concept of taking their spouse on a second honeymoon. I was literally forced to do it and it made me super uncomfortable. I developed the “hold a baby” defense move for those in the past and it worked for me again. (The hold a baby move was to literally take my baby niece up with me so I couldn’t possibly catch anything.)

  • I’m with you. Not only is the toss embarrassing for the single ladies… but the garter retrieval is embarrassing for the newly married couple.

    We skipped the tradition after a pretty terrible experience at a previous wedding where I was forced to catch the bouquet(the bride wanted it back) and then my now husband wasn’t able to catch the garter. Anyway, my husband was pretty upset with his future wife getting ‘man-handled’ so this tradition has some brutal memories for us. Actually, no one noticed we skipped it at our wedding, and I feel like it was for the better, no one was called out, and the dance floor wasn’t awkwardly emptied, just full and bumping the whole time. When you are planning your wedding, just try not to give in to the pressures around you and plan the wedding for you and N, not your guests(though you inevitably do). All the best!

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