It starts with a sinking feeling in your stomach. The feeling doesn’t care that you have a killer dress on, or that you’ve finally discovered high heels that aren’t permanently mutilating your feet. The feeling doesn’t care that you share a mutual love of Anne Sexton with only single groomsman. It is, of course, the feeling you get when you realize you forgot the cardinal rule of wedding attendance as a single women – you didn’t flee the room like your hair was on fire when they announced the bridal bouquet toss.
The bouquet toss is a wedding tradition that originated out of an old habit of tearing the bride’s wedding dress to pieces. Back in olden-times England, the bride was considered infused in good fortune. So her guests would claw at her dress to get some good luck for themselves. As a way to stay clothed, the bride would toss her flowers at the congregation to distract them from her threads. So the singleton who caught the bouquet would also catch the bride’s good fortune and presumably, not the plague or bad teeth.
I caught the wedding bouquet – once. It was my sister’s wedding and I was 24-years-old. When my 7-year-old niece was informed that I caught the bouquet at her mother’s wedding, she laughed and offered “Well, that really worked!” She said this a few months ago, when at aged 38, I did wed.
And what does getting married in my late 30s mean? That somewhere around the age of 30, my interest in getting tossed at a wedding shifted focus from flowers to booze. For me, age 30 was The Year of Many Weddings. This was also the year when a groomsman asked me why I was still single as we walked down the aisle together. This happened because I went against type. At age 30, I should have been juggling cats in my Miss Havisham threads, not wearing a Vera Wang bridesmaid’s dress I couldn’t afford.
So when the bouquet toss was announced at this particular wedding, the atmosphere was ripe with delight and tension. Since this was a family wedding, I had the pleasure of cousins shoving me out on the dance floor into the lineup. In between leaving nail marks dragged across the floor, I grabbed my 5-year-old cousin to go up with me. I promised her that it would be delightful. Accordingly, I practically threw her at the flowers when they came our way. Let me just say – rolling around on the floor with a crying child in your arms does nothing for Vera Wang.
And yes, we know, some people like to toss the bouquet at their wedding. Others will lunge for it like it’s a life jacket on the Titanic, having lots of fun along the way. To these people – we hear you, we love you, and comment away on our lasting discomfort.
But not everyone wants to get up there and dive for flowers. So here are their thoughts and stories – most now married, some happily single, all united in their survival of tosses past. (Note: Our survey was completely scientific in that we called our friends. In that it wasn’t. At all. And partially anonymous to avoid hurt feelings. But still!)
Sara from San Francisco tells it bluntly: I once witnessed a bouquet toss done by the father of the groom who said, kid you not – microphone and all – “Will all the virgins please stand for the bouquet toss?” There was an uncomfortable murmur that ran through the crowd, and he said defensively, “What? If you’re not married wouldn’t you be a virgin?” Cue a bunch of weirded out women in their 20s and 30s not getting out of their chairs.
Anonymous from New York City reminisces: There’s always the married girl at your table that starts yelling “That’s you, that’s you!” when they ask for all the single ladies – as if you didn’t know you were single.
Kacey from Los Angeles is thoughtful: The bouquet toss really does define what kind of a woman you are (or at least where you are in life). Whether you go to the front of the pack and fight for it or stand in the back and avoid it pleasantly to appease the bride. Or, maybe you’re just a camera whore and you want to make sure you make it in the album for posterity.
Starre from Norwalk, Connecticut, is passionate: I hate the bouquet toss! It makes women seem so desperate and pathetic, I just can’t get over it. Why does anyone do this anymore? It’s just insulting in this day and age. I personally have refused to do this at weddings and the one time I was forced into it, I stood in the back, very embarrassed. Seems mean to the bride if you don’t, but makes me feel like a total schmuck to stand there, I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Anonymous from Los Angeles is fired up: No way would I do a toss after seeing grown cousins ripping each other’s hair out over bad roses, baby’s breath and a prayer. Also at my friend’s wedding, she threw a splintered bouquet, which splintered to many different people. But my splinter was the official “catch”. What was my prize? An excruciatingly embarrassing piece of wedding theater – I had to sit in a chair while the drunken guy who caught the garter got to put said lingerie on my leg (some obnoxious song in the background).
Amy from Chicago talks battle wounds: All can say is there is nothing worse than being pushed out on the floor to catch the bouquet by “well meaning” friends, (I seriously question that,) and realizing that your only competition is 13-year-old girl. Or worse, for me, once a 6-year-old girl.
Laura from Long Beach remembers: At one wedding, the bouquet was tossed into a crowd of women who let it land without anyone catching it. Then everyone just stared at it on the floor.
Andrea from Arlington, Virginia, is frugal: Flowers are too expensive to throw, who are we kidding anyway?
Anonymous from Seattle is sweet: I got married at 22 and threw the bouquet – don’t you remember grabbing for it?
And finally, we end on a positive toss. Clearly, these people know how to party .