The bouquet toss is a tried and true wedding ritual: the single ladies assemble, the bride turns her back to the crowd, and throws her bridal bouquet over her shoulder. The garter toss is somewhat similar, only it involves the groom removing a fancy garter from the bride’s leg before throwing it towards a waiting group of men. For a look at these customs, and how to include them in your wedding in a tasteful manner, read this article.

Most people will agree: the tossing of the bride’s bouquet is a sweet custom, and one worthy of including in a wedding. Of course the symbolism behind the tradition is that the woman who catches the bouquet will be the next one to get married. For this reason, only single young ladies should gather when the announcement is made that it is time to toss the bouquet. No matter how long the bride’s parents may have been divorced, there is something unseemly about the mother of the bride fighting for the bouquet!

Many brides have very special bouquets which they want to keep to preserve. This is especially true now that bouquets are often made with the addition of crystal or pearl accents to coordinate with the bridal jewelry; they are simply too costly to give away! If you want to hang on to your bridal bouquet, you can still include the traditional bouquet toss in your wedding. The solution is to have a separate bouquet created especially for this purpose. The florist will make an arrangement which is similar to the flowers that you carry down the aisle, but it will be smaller and lacking in expensive embellishments. Most brides who opt to order a tossing bouquet and keep their ceremony flowers are very glad that they did so.

Sometimes a bouquet toss can turn into a free-for-all, which is less than ideal. Although it is always more fun for the onlookers if there is a bit of a tussle over the bouquet, the cases where women fight each other down to the ground tearing the bouquet apart is simply undignified, and does nothing to enhance the elegance of the wedding. If you know that your guests are likely to be intoxicated and rowdy by the end of your reception, you may wish to move the bouquet toss to an earlier time in the evening. It it customary for the bride to toss her bouquet right before the newlyweds make their grand exit, but by all means do it at another pivotal point in the evening, such as after the couple’s first dance or around the time of the cake cutting.

As for the garter toss, it is of more questionable taste than the bouquet toss. This is because it involves the groom going under the bride’s dress to remove the garter before he throws it. Yet many couples do consider the garter ritual to be the other half of the bouquet toss, and so really want to include it. There are a few tips for keeping it dignified and unoffensive for witnesses (especially your grandmother!). First of all, the bride should wear the garter just above her knee, not way up high on her thigh. The groom should also be brief while he is seeking the garter and not make a show of rooting around under the bridal gown for a long period of time. No one needs a preview of the wedding night!

Just like the bouquet, many brides like to have a second, less precious garter for throwing. In many cases, the garter will be made from special lace or beautiful silk and embellished with crystals or pearls to match the bridal jewelry. Since such a special garter is going to be a keepsake item, the bride can keep that one and have a less fancy one for tossing. If she wants to be really tasteful about it, she can discreetly slip the tossing garter to the groom, to avoid the under-the-skirt spectacle. Last but not least, in some circles it is believed that the man who catches the garter should put it on the thigh of the woman who nabbed the bouquet, but this is never in good taste! When it comes to the garter toss, the best plan is to have fun, but keep it G-rated.