Monday, August 23, 2010

History Lesson: The Bouquet Toss, A Bachelor Dinner and a Flying Garter

Weddings are history in the making. The beginning of one family and the continuation of others, a wedding is a celebration of traditions old and new and are a platform for couples to showcase who they are.

While acting as planner for a wedding this past May, I noticed that the bride seemed to have a strong resistance to anything that even slightly resembled tradition. Strict instructions were given to my team: no bouquet toss, no garter throwing and absolutely, positively no special cake cutting. As a planner it is my job to make sure that the couple’s wishes (whenever not hideously ridiculous or outside the confines of the Law) are met. Even I agree that the garter toss recipient and the bouquet toss recipient should not be forced to dance together and when a groom smashes caked into a bride's perfectly painted mouth I want to faint. It was this super modern couple that got my wheels turning concerning age old wedding habits. Where did these activities come from and why, for goodness sake, do they often require people to chunk lovely items in mid air and hope that someone catches them? So, armed with a piqued sense of curiosity and a hot apricot tea (in my Minnie Mouse gets Married mug of course) I set out on a research journey. You just may be surprised at what this wedding planner’s fast typing fingers discovered…

· The Bouquet Toss…This tradition actually dates back to the fourteenth century when brides were considered to be covered in luck on their wedding day. Single women would vie for a piece of the bride’s gown hoping to take home a piece of her luck. This often times ended in a tattered and torn gown not to mention a bruised up bride! Brides began to rebel against the destruction of their dresses and began throwing stockings or garters at the crowd until they could exit unaccosted. Eventually the custom became the flowering tossing event know today. I recommend having your florist make a “toss bouquet” for this activity so that your precious bundle can be saved and not ripped to bits by all those single ladies gunning for your luck!
· The Garter Toss: An offshoot of the bouquet toss, the tossing of the garter was used to feign off the advances of luck hungry women and smooch hungry men! Once again considered lucky, men would fight to snatch a kiss from the new bride, a habit that new groom did not think much of. Men began removing the garter from the leg of his bride to show ownership and throwing it to his ravenous cohorts to save his new wife from Lord knows what. The tradition continues today and often follows the tossing of the bridal bouquet.
· The Bachelor Party: Originally known as the bachelor dinner or stag party, the bachelor party goes back to the early days of Sparta and the Spartans love of any reason to party. An engaged Spartan man would be treated to an evening of feasting and drinking as his friends (and often fellow military men) would toast to his new life. Although now known to often involve risque behavior, the bachelor dinner was originally created to allow the groom an opportunity to release pre-wedding jitters. Eventually women decided they needed to shake off some jitters too and thus produced the birth of the bachelorette party.

Of course there are many more traditions that need to be explained. But, if I spilled all the beans here, you would not have a reason to return and read more! Stay tuned to The Bride’s Book Blog for our next history lesson which will include the odd history behind the bridal party, the reason flowers became a vital part of the event and how the wedding cake evolved from a loaf of bread to the artistic creations we have today. Class dismissed!

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