Weddings are a mixture of traditional and nontraditional, old and new, something borrowed and (sometimes) something blue. One thing that tends to make it to most weddings, traditional or not, is the custom known as bouquet tossing.
It’s that moment during the wedding reception when the DJ calls for the single ladies to get into position on the dance floor. The bride, with her back to the crowd, clutches her bouquet, closes her eyes, and, on the DJ’s count, tosses the bouquet into the air. Without a second thought, it’s a mad scramble from the anxious group to catch the bride’s beautiful array of flowers, all for the hope of the good luck that the wedding tradition promises.
During the 1300s in medieval Europe, it was thought to be good luck to touch the bride. A bride didn’t expect to wear her wedding dress again, so others saw it as good luck or fertility charm. After the wedding, single women would chase the bride and try to rip the gown off.
During that time, marriage was a woman’s way of upward mobility and often more of a strategic move versus a romantic one. Single women were desperate to change their economic status by marrying someone who could provide for them. They wanted a bride’s accessories, simply because she was married. So, to deter guests from what had to be an uncomfortable moment, and an invasion of privacy, brides began tossing their bouquets into the crowds to cause a distraction. The wedding bouquet is said to be the best object to toss because the flowers are symbolic of fertility.
Over the years, as wedding dresses have evolved and gotten more expensive, it’s more of a tradition for women to keep them as a memento or to pass them on to other family members as a family heirloom. As society has progressed, marriage is a choice, and while luck may not be needed to fall in love and marry for romance, the bouquet toss tradition is one that has endured the test of time. It has evolved into a fun way for a bride to share her day with her single friends and family members.
Other countries have variations on the bouquet toss meaning. In Finland, the bride is blindfolded and stands in the middle of a circle of women. The bride turns slowly, while the women turn in the opposite direction, and when everyone stops a flower is handed to the lady standing directly in front of the bride.
Tradition calls for single women to participate, but if your unmarried friends aren't too keen on the idea of being pushed out of the way to catch the bouquet, don’t force them. Some may be feeling lonely or dealing with a breakup, so try to avoid shaming or guilting anyone into participating. If you only have one or two single friends attending, it might be awkward to do a toss, especially if other guests are married. Tradition says that whoever catches the bouquet or wedding flowers at a wedding is thought to be the next in line to wed. But, if the lucky lady doesn’t meet the man of her dreams, at least she has a beautiful flower arrangement.
The bouquet toss tradition has been around for centuries, but it’s a great way for brides who want a tradition to incorporate into their special day. Brides who opt for a more contemporary or modern wedding can still include the bouquet toss, but with a twist. Most often, single ladies look forward to the bouquet toss and are excited to elbow the competition. Some couples don’t like the idea of throwing a bouquet, so they can tailor a bouquet toss to their preference, or do away with the idea. Some brides can opt to stage the bouquet toss so that a specific person from the wedding party such as the maid of honor or a close engaged friend catches it. Others choose to give a flower to family members from the bouquet.
As with all wedding traditions, nothing is set in stone. As a couple, you can determine if the bouquet tossing tradition works best for you and your wedding. There are many ways to tailor traditions to your liking and to your guests to make the day special. Be as traditional as you want, or put a modern spin on it, it’s up to you, because, after all, it’s your wedding day.
Remember, Zola, is here to help offer advice and assist you with all the details of your wedding during all steps of the planning, from the decor, wedding ceremony, and to the flowers included in the bouquet.