Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Remember When . . . The Traditions Were Medieval?

A friend contacted me yesterday to ask if I would consider digging into the traditions of the garter-toss and bouquet toss at weddings for one of my posts. Well, ask and ye shall receive!

The garter-toss is a remnant from days of old. Back in the medieval and Elizabethan eras, no one just assumed that the bride and groom would retire to their room and consummate the marriage. No, no, they wanted proof--or at least a semblance of it. Back in those days, the wedding guests would accompany the bridal couple to the bed chamber. Taking the garter was considered "proof." It was also considered luck. So things sometimes got out of hand with guests trying to derobe the bride so they could get at those lucky undergarments . . . 

Yeah, that's when the "toss" came in, LOL. Brides and grooms understandably wanted to distract those over-eager guests, so the groom would remove the garter and toss it to get people away from his poor bride. Kinda like tossing a steak at the snarling guard dogs... ;-)

Over the centuries, that tradition has held on, though it's been moved to the reception when seeing the couple to their bedroom went out of style. Funny the things that stick, isn't it?

The bouquet-toss is rooted in a similar idea. Brides in Merry Old England (by which I mean OLD England), would carry bunches of aromatic herbs (think garlic) to fend off evil spirits (a common thread in many Celtic and Anglo traditions). These were eventually replaced with flowers as a symbol of happiness. And if the bride was so stinkin' happy, well the guests wanted a piece of it too! They would try to snatch a piece of the bride's gown or flowers for luck.

Go figure, the women weren't too crazy about having their wedding dress torn to shreds (I don't understand it...), so the bouquet-toss came about, much like the garter-toss did--to get people away from her, LOL.

So these two tossing traditions are both ways of sharing the good luck of the bridal couple with the guests without offending modesty or ruining the gown, and both have since come to the mean that the lucky recipient would be the next to wed. (Which is, of course, the best fortune anyone could have. *grins*)

And hey, if anyone else has questions about words or history that you'd like me to research for you, it saves me some brainstorming, so I'm all ears!


  1. Totally fun! LOVE learning about stuff like this.

  2. I love learning things like this. It's so fascinating.

    I knew that one or two people would need proof of the marriage but I did not know that all of the guests wanted to be in on it! Wow, it's just one of those traditions that needs to be kept in the past. I will never think of the garter and bouquet toss the same way again.