Alternatives to the Bouquet and Garter Toss

Ulmer Studios Photography

Last week we discussed the reception "tossing traditions" and it would seem opinions abound on this topic. At the heart of the matter, as with all of life, is our motivation for what we do.

Sometimes, particularly with weddings, we include certain elements as a nod to tradition. So we looked at where these traditions came from. In my opinion, the origin of these traditions does not mandate they be included in your wedding. Really there are just a few things in your wedding that are necessary--for the rest, you get to choose!

So as you are making your decision, here are some alternative ideas:

* My new internet friend Tricia did not want to do the traditional bouquet toss so she said: "we made a 'gift bouquet' which I tossed to anyone/everyone at the reception. It had some flowers, a restaurant gift card, movie tickets, and movie snacks. We treated it as a big 'thank you' for attending our wedding and it was a huge hit. Our photographer said he's never seen so many people vying for 'the bouquet.'"

I think this is a great way to include everyone but still get the fun pictures of the bride tossing the bouquet if that's something you want. It doesn't single out any one group, or leave anyone on the fringes. And it's a means of honoring those who chose to spend their day celebrating with you.'

* If you are having dancing I've seen couples have a special dance where they invite all the married couples to dance, then gradually have people sit down based on the amount of time they've been married. For instance, the emcee would ask those married 5 years or less to sit, then 10, 20, 30 and so on. At the end of the dance the couple married the longest is given the bouquet. This is such a beautiful idea and a great way to give testimony to what God has done in His faithfulness to these two people in their marriage. What a privilege to honor those who have kept their commitment to one another and God for 50+ years.

* We did not dance at our wedding (thankfully...I'm not particularly gifted in the rhythm department) so we modified this dance idea. We had everyone married for at least 25 years come to the middle of the room, then gradually counted up from there. The florist had saved me several long-stemmed roses and a small bouquet. So as we got to the final few couples we gave them each a flower, and gave the couple married the longest the bouquet.

Interestingly, people were not attentive to the cake-cutting or other reception components, but this was the one time everyone was focused on the same thing--the gift of marriage. Knowing the particular stories of the couples made it even richer for us, and I still cry watching this part of the wedding video. Erik and I were able to publicly honor his grandparents, who are two of the most amazing people I know. And I knew I would be giving the bouquet to my grandmother, whose husband of 57 years--my sweet grandfather--was unable to come because he was battling the cancer that would later defeat his earthly body.

It was a bittersweet, precious moment, and one of the most treasured of my wedding day.

* I have also heard of brides presenting the bouquet to an honored relative. It worked out for me that I could do both, knowing the person married the longest would be my grandmother. But had that not been the case we might have chosen to honor our grandparents anyway.

What else have you seen as alternatives to the tossing tradition? I would love to include other ideas in the book!