How Do You Feel About These Traditions?

In weddings, as in many things in life, everyone wants to decide what does or doesn’t fit their style and point of view. I was once taken to task for suggesting the garter toss felt weird to me. Some women will still love to do this – it can be fun, sexy, traditional or even silly. It’s up to you. But it’s good to take a look at different rituals and traditions to confirm your feelings about them.  If they don’t feel right, just don’t do them!

Along with my own qualms about the garter toss, are the bouquet toss and cake smashing. How the heck did these traditions come about? Let’s take a look.

Playing nice while cutting the cake.

Historically did you know that wedding guests and on-lookers outside a church would tear off pieces of the bride’s dress for good luck? Yes, this was a thing way back when, and it’s even worse than that. After the bride and groom said, “I do,” they were to go immediately into a nearby room and ‘close the deal’ and consummate the marriage.  This was known as ‘bedding,’ and took place in the 15thcentury in England and many places in Europe. Obviously, to be sure it was official, there would need to be witnesses, which led to hordes of wedding guests crowding around the bed, pushing and shoving to get a good view of the deed. Sometimes the guests helped get the process going by grabbing at the bride as she walked by, hoping to get their hands on a lucky piece of the dress.

The ’bedding’ custom did eventually become more symbolic, sometimes the couple were put in bed, offered food and wine, and then, thankfully, left alone. So over time, as couples continued to object, the bride was allowed to toss her bouquet, replacing a torn piece of her dress. Throwing the flowers so guests could run after it also gave her a chance to make a getaway. And it turned out, people like catching the flowers! So here we are.

The garter toss is directly related to this unpleasant tale. When the bride was on her way to the ‘wedding chamber’ along with attempting to tear at her dress, the cry would go out: ‘get her garter!’ and if the bride was prepared she’d have it already loose and toss it, rather than risk having it ripped off. Hence, the garter toss.

Another sometimes uncomfortable tradition is to have the guy that caught the garter put it on the leg of the woman who caught the bouquet. You can imagine how that could become a very cringe-worthy moment, for so many reasons!

A fun yet respectful spin on sharing cake.

If you want to toss either a bouquet and/or a garter I suggest you ask everyone to gather around and declare that its good luck to catch it – and call it a day. Asking only single men or single women and proclaiming they’ll be next to marry is rather embarrassing and most people don’t want to participate. Dividing people up is never something I like to see, not to mention you are making assumptions about people’s sexual orientation. But if you are inclusive, this stale tradition could be made fun again!

Smashing cake is not always appreciated either, apart from the aggressive factor,  it can ruin hair, make-up and clothing, but if you think it’s fun – go for it – just make sure both partners completely agree on this. And don’t pull one of those white lies – telling your partner you won’t do it and then going ahead and smashing cake in her face. That is a terrible way to start your married life – basically with a lie. So please, folks,  be honest about this one. Of course, this also has roots as far back as ancient Rome, when the bride would conclude the festivities by having a barley cake smashed upon her head. This dubious tradition was done to symbolize male dominance and encourage fertility. No shock there. The crumbs that fell were quickly scooped up ostensibly for good luck. Once actual wedding cakes came on the scene (Victorian England) this evolved into a lovely ritual of the couple simply cutting the wedding cake together and sharing it. Now that is playing nice. The origins of the cake smashing seem clear and it’s sometimes said that it represents a comedic way to show male dominance. Then women started smashing back and that’s where we’re at today. Some people see it as silly, and fun and others think its demeaning. What do you think?

Tune in next week for some alternative ideas to refresh some of these tired old traditions!

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your beautiful photography!

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