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To Toss or Not To Toss: The Bouquet & Garter

Like many traditions, the bouquet and garter toss are slowly being replaced by more all-inclusive wedding reception activities. In the last five years, we have noted a decline in these long-standing traditions and estimate the frequency of bouquet and garter tosses to be approximately 50 percent.

Whether you choose to include these traditions or "toss" them is completely up to you. Singling out the singles with bouquet and garter rituals isn't as relevant today, when many wait longer to marry and some choose to remain single. A Bride and Groom may prefer to spend their party moments visiting with beloved guests and dancing to the music instead.

Whatever you decide, a professional DJ can share their experiences and help you plan your reception activities. The bouquet and garter toss dates back to the 14th century, when it was customary for the groom to remove the bride's garter and throw it toward the single men in attendance. Legend said that whoever caught the garter would be the next to marry. At the often rowdy party following the wedding, a few drunk and impatient men would occasionally try to remove the Bride's garter before the Groom had his opportunity. At those times, we can only hope the Groom intervened and rescued his Bride from the boisterous crowd. In light of this, perhaps seeing who would marry next by having the Bride toss her bridal bouquet toward the single women was less troublesome!

Pros of hosting a bouquet and garter toss

  1. It's Tradition - Some in attendance are waiting for this moment during your reception. The bouquet toss and, to a lesser extent, the garter toss are benchmarks for the older generations.

  2. Guests get involved and have fun - If plenty of singles are at your party, the event generates suspense for your wedding guests. Hosting the toss in the midst of your dance party is a great way to get singles to meet on the dance floor. All guests want to feel the thrill of the moment, and professional DJs draw on their experience and follow simple techniques that engage your guests and elevate the excitement of your reception's most memorable moments.

  3. Great photo and video opportunity - You can expect great shots of your friends wearing spontaneous smiles. The camera will capture their laughter and looks of surprise, embarrassment and goofiness, as they carry out the traditions of the bouquet and garter toss.

Cons of hosting a bouquet and garter toss

  1. Guests may not want to participate. It's customary for the Bride to help gather the singles in attendance and invite them to get involved in the bouquet and garter toss. If singles are reluctant to participate, but go along to be polite to the Bride, the events won't be fun for them and may make them uncomfortable, a feeling which is sure to spread among the guests watching them.

  2. There's less party time. If your dance floor is rockin', why screech the party to a halt? Even small traditions, like the garter and bouquet toss, take a little time to organize. You can expect to spend 5 to 10 minutes gathering participants and watching rowdier singles prolong their moments in the spotlight. While others are distracted, guests who aren't caught up in the moment may take this opportunity to leave.

  3. Do you really want a picture of this? Since the bouquet and garter toss are mostly staged events, we all know what to expect, with certain variations on the old theme.

Try putting a new spin on the bouquet and garter toss

Enjoy an Anniversary Dance. This fun variation on the usual theme is a suspenseful event that invites married couples of all ages to be part of an "elimination" dance that ends with a nice surprise. All married couples are invited to the dance floor for the first song. Those married less than 6 months are asked to step down for the next dance. Those married less than a year are asked to bow out, followed by those married 3 years, 5 years, and so on, until the last couple on the dance floor is the one that has been married the longest - which is sometimes 50 or 60 years! The DJ will congratulate the couple and encourage a round of applause. If appropriate, sometimes the couple will offer some sage advice for the newlyweds. In return for their words of wisdom, the Bride and Groom occasionally offer the couple the Bride's bouquet.

Depending on your guests, the bouquet and garter toss can be a fun event. However, you will find that hardly anyone will miss it if you choose to skip them. It's totally up to you; it is YOUR wedding reception!

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