I was 26, nowhere near ready to get married, and the proposal was obviously a joke. (I didn’t even know his name!)
Most single women hate the bouquet toss. In a recent Jezebel poll of about 4,500 readers, 19 percent were for the bouquet toss; 81 percent were against. Wedding etiquette boards are full of creative alternatives, such as inviting all the women at a wedding (single or not) to the dance floor for a particular song, or honoring married couples instead of singling out unmarried folks.
I get it: The bouquet toss is hopelessly old-fashioned. It implies that single guests want and need to marry — and that we need some kind of lucky charm to make it happen. Never mind that plenty of single folks feel lucky to have the lives and freedom they already have.
It can also be kind of uncomfortable for guests who are in a relationship but not married. Way to put the pressure on your plus-one by catching the marriage “good luck charm.”
But the tradition doesn’t bother me. In fact, I love catching the bouquet.
Maybe it’s because single-shaming is so prevalent, at weddings and elsewhere, that the bouquet toss just doesn’t bother me. The last time someone asked you, their voice dripping with judgment — When are you going to get married? Or: How is it that you’re single? — did they give you a free, beautiful bouquet during that conversation? Probably not.
Now that same-sex marriage is just marriage, at least no one is excluded from this tradition, or winning with an uncomfortable caveat.
The bouquet toss is far less sexual than tossing the garter, which is pretty rare nowadays and is tied to a medieval tradition in which wedding guests would tear off a piece of the bride’s clothing for good luck. As Brides magazine describes the tradition: “Now, the groom strips the garter off the bride to campy stripper music, then tosses it into a pack of salivating unmarried men.” Gross. And way more offensive than tossing some flowers into the air.
There are plenty of times unmarried folks feel singled out, so weddings are actually a good place to get used to owning your single status. If someone is going to call me to the dance floor for a weird singles-only ritual, do it when I’m flush with joy for my friends or relatives on their big day. First off: I’m pretty willing to do anything to humiliate myself. And second: It’s a much easier, happier time to feel singled out than when a nosy relative is trying to set you up with some distant connection she knows in your city. Again, generally, free flowers are not part of those conversations.
Even though the bouquet toss is a not-so-subtle endorsement of married life, to me it also underscores how random love is. You have to be at the right place, at the right time for both of you, for a committed relationship to work out. You can throw yourself into dating and still lack a good match. (Think crowded bouquet toss with lots of eager-beavers and only one lucky “winner.”) You cannot date at all and end up with someone. (Like a small bouquet crowd with few willing catchers.) If a happy newlywed wants to throw some luck my way, however random and meaningless, I’ll take it.
My biggest reason for not hating on the bouquet toss is that, in comparison to so many other sexist and outdated wedding traditions, the bouquet is among the least offensive. The vast majority of brides aren’t virgins, yet they still wear white, despite the implications of virginity and purity. Parents, traditionally fathers, “give” their daughters away, as if they’re now someone else’s property. Women do most of the wedding planning, and are expected to go crazy in the process. And don’t get me started on vows stating that a woman shall submit to her husband.
Next to all that, I’ll gladly catch a bouquet any day.