Traditions play a huge part in weddings, they form modern weddings still and another one of those traditions which has stood the test of time is the tossing of the bridal bouquet. This is something which is done at the reception, where the newly married bride turns her back on a gathering of unmarried ladies and blindly tosses the flowers over her shoulder. It is said that the lucky lady who gets her hands on the bouquet will be the next one to walk down the aisle and get married. It’s a little strange perhaps to see a crowd of single women desperately diving and scrapping for a piece of a perceived good luck charm, solely in the hopes that they will get rushed down the aisle themselves.
So where does the tradition of tossing the bridal bouquet come from? Well, this is a bit of a strange one and it is tied to even stranger old wedding tradition, the Bride’s garter. Yes, that frilly piece of lace that would be wrapped around the thigh of the Bride under her wedding dress plays a hugely significant piece of matrimonial history. It’s a dirty history at that. This goes back to the times where there was no in-between time of the wedding ceremony and the couple rushing off to consummate their marriage. It was custom a long time ago, to finish the ceremony and then immediately sequester themselves away in a room somewhere and ‘get it on’.
But it wasn’t to a private room that the newlyweds would rush. Oh no, people in the wedding party wanted first hand evidence that the couple had officially consummated their marriage and would crowd around the bed to get a glimpse of the deal being sealed, as it were. It was considered a very lucky thing if one of the onlookers could get their hands on a piece of the bride’s clothing which had been removed during the process, just to grab a thread of good luck for themselves. This rather bizarre post-wedding production has long since-drifted away, but it was even worse for some brides, particularly in medieval times.
Men would have foot races or even races on horses to compete for the garter, or in some instances they would chase the actual bride, turn her upside down and the first man to rip the garter from her leg was the lucky one. Just what a Bride wants to wrap up her beautiful day! So after that barbaric tradition had slid away and after the creepy viewing parties of the post-marital coitus had become just socially weird and unacceptable, this is where the tossing of the bouquet came in. It is said that by tossing the flowers and letting the crowds fight for that, it allowed the bride and groom to escape in peace.
It acted as a not-so-subtle diversion. Nowadays the garter has the same symbolic nature in the wedding as the bouquet. As marriage consummation became a private thing, it became practice for the groom to remove the garter and toss it outside of the door to the unmarried men in the wedding party, in order to symbolize that the married couple was consummating their vows. No spectators needed. Again, like the bouquet, it is said that whoever catches it, they will be the next one to get married. Even though it is a really weird thing to covet an undergarment of the new wife of someone you obviously know, this is a tradition which has been around for a fair old time.