These days, the bridal bouquet toss is as popular as Beanie Babies. There’s a mildly fond recollection of the pastime, but no one really wants to play with them anymore. Maybe the reason why is that somehow despite the “me” generation clamoring for attention online, clamoring for a bunch of flowers in front of family and friends is just not cool? Or maybe it’s also not cool to pressure people into marriage anymore (if it ever was)? Then again, maybe it’s because the floral game is a sexual double standard compared to the erotic garter toss? Or maybe it has something to do with identifying all the single ladies in the room and playing a game that implies being single is bad and undesirable? I’m gonna go with D. All of the Above.
But what if you’re a bride that wants to stick with tradition and play the game? As The Feminist Bride, I say, at the very least, modernize the game. There are several ways in which this can easily be done.
The first idea is to make the bouquet toss as sensual as the garter toss. The garter toss is traditionally sexier because men were historically allowed to be sexual beings, but women were expected to be innocent and sexless. The bouquet’s flowers merely symbolize the bride’s fertility (remember the pistol and stamen lesson from your high school science class?) as opposed to her sexy Georgia O’Keefe lady bits; whereas, a man removing the garter symbolizes his right to take away a bride’s chastity and have at those lady bits. A women’s sexuality should not be oppressed by any means, and certainly not by a silly bouquet toss, so find a way to level the playing field.
The other really easy way to improve the game is to ask everyone to play, not just the single people. I never liked being asked to play just because I was single. One, because I didn’t want to feel pressured to marry. I’d marry in my own time not because some superstitious game expedited my nuptial destiny. Two, because I usually had a significant other and it’s super awkward when you win and you both are nowhere near ready to marry each other. A relationship should be free to naturally develop on its own. Three, because I often found myself in a small group alone with children, who were far too young to marry, period, and that is just wrong and weird. And four, there were times in my life when I liked being single and had no desire to change that status. What if I was a recent widow or divorcée and not ready to get back into the dating game? Besides, what good is a game if politely opting out of playing it, makes you look like you’re incapable of being a team player and putting aside your personal comfort level? Restricting the toss to single people is not all that it’s cracked up to be, so make sure everyone can play.
Whether you decide to make the bouquet toss coed or just for the ladies, just make sure it doesn’t single anyone out for being exactly that – single. A much more inclusive game that doesn’t ultimately judge someone on their relationship status means everyone is going to have a better time playing it.
Use the MC to help usher in new game rules or get up on stage with the mike yourself. Often times, when guests hear the bouquet toss is about to start many retreat to the bathroom or bar. Giving a quick explanation of the new rules before they flee can make a big difference in terms of participation rates.
Of course, there’s always the option to not play the game at all, which is what most brides seem to be doing these days. You can also modernize the game even further with these new alternatives. The bottom line is that the bouquet toss will fall further out of favor (like the chicken dance did) if it continues to push marriage as the end all, be all in women’s lives. It needs to evolve into a game that is more accepting of different lifestyles and is more inclusive and less judgmental. If a bride manages to do these things, then people will be happy to play and she’ll be happier knowing people’s interest in playing is sincere and not out of obligation or peer pressure.