I fucking hate the bouquet toss.
I was ranting about this to MamaSharper just the other day, in anticipation of an upcoming wedding where I’m on bridesmaid duty. Don’t get me wrong–I’m delighted for the bride and honored to be asked; we’ve been friends ever since we met in 9th grade gym. But it looks like it’s going to be a very traditional bridesmaid gig, including the matching picked-from-a-catalog bridesmaid dresses. Y’all know how I love those.
But if there’s one thing I hate more than bridesmaid dresses, it’s the bouquet toss. Bridesmaid dresses are just unflattering. The bouquet toss is an undignified, paternalistic, sexist spectacle. Nothing that reinforces the “desperate single woman” stereotype more than ladies leaping like wide-receivers for an overpriced, slightly wilted bunch of flowers because of what those flowers represent: OMG, I’M GONNA GET MARRIEEEEED SOON!
I’ve heard anecdotally there’s a tacky garter toss tradition for men–where the groom removes the bride’s garter and throws it to single men–but frankly, I have never seen it at any wedding I’ve been to, whereas the bouquet toss is ubiquitous. If you search “bouquet toss” on YouTube, you’ll find dozens of cringe-inducing videos of women in frenzied, squee-ing, rugby-like scrums, often set to “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”. It’s fucking embarrassing.
The bouquet toss seems to be a uniquely American tradition; a poll of my non-American friends report the bouquet being unsentimentally discarded (Salvadoran, Bolivian, German) or saved to be placed on a war memorial (Russian, English, Australian) or a relative’s grave (Korean, Chinese). They seem a little mystified by the traditional American launching of the flowers at single women. A French friend sniffed that “It looks vulgar. And humiliating.” Bingo.
Still, the bouquet toss seems to be stubbornly stuck to our culture like a wad of toilet paper on an unsuspecting heel–even in my own family. When my sister had a traditional Southern church wedding in 2003, she insisted on throwing her bouquet, even though it was a tiny, family-only wedding, with exactly five unmarried females present: me, my other sister, my 50-year old aunt, and the two flower girls, ages 5 and 7. My sister, aunt and I stayed seated–visibly snarling at the few relatives who urged us to line up for the catch–and let the bride pitch the damn thing to the flower girls.
I’m kind of hoping that my high school friend won’t do the bouquet toss at all. If she does, I plan to recreate the scene from “Sex and the City” where the women watch the bouquet arcing in their direction and let it fall–splat!–at their feet, after which they head off to have another drink and hook up with some hot groomsmen. I have my misgivings about that series, but that moment was pure gold for me.
A few years ago, I was a bridesmaid at a different wedding–where we wore whatever we wanted, hooray!–and instead of tossing the bouquet, the bride announced she’d be giving it to the lady in the room who had been married the longest. I thought that was a great compromise; the flowers went to her 80-something great-aunt, who was tickled to death. If a bride simply must do something with the flowers, that seems infinitely preferable to lobbing them at other women.
Got any alternative uses for a bridal bouquet? Dry it? Play volleyball with it? Make fancy compost? Please share!