What Does Catching the Bouquet Mean? (Simply Explained)

At every wedding, a myriad of traditions unfolds, each imbued with its own significance and history. Among them, the bouquet toss stands out as one of the most recognized. As couples decide which traditions to incorporate into their ceremony, understanding the underlying meaning of each becomes paramount.

Historically, the bouquet has symbolized good luck and fortune. Thus, catching the bouquet means a harbinger of good things to come, often believed to signify that the catcher will be the next in line to marry.

Below, we delve into the meanings and history behind the bouquet toss. We’ll also address other commonly asked questions surrounding this time-honored tradition.

What Does it Mean When You Catch the Bouquet?

girl with bouquet

The bouquet toss is a playful and engaging tradition that typically involves every single and unmarried woman in attendance. The bride faces away from the participants and tosses a bouquet of flowers, which everyone will try to catch for themselves.

The bouquet itself is a symbol of fortune and good luck. Thus, the person who catches this bouquet will have good luck. Additionally, people believe that the catcher will be the next person to get married.

Brief History of Bouquet Toss

bride holding bouquet

The origins of the bouquet toss are the same as that of the garter toss. People in medieval Europe back in the 1300s believed that touching a bride would give them good luck. By extension, people viewed her wedding dress as a symbol of fortune and mobility. This often escalated to the point where single women would run after the bride and try to rip a piece of her gown off.

It is important to take note of the nature of marriages during this era. Unlike today wherein weddings are a symbol of love, weddings back then were a financial and strategic move. Women from the lower class would marry a richer man for a better socio-economic status. This increased people’s desire to grab a piece of her dress or accessories.

Brides tossed their bouquets to divert the crowd so they could get away unscathed. These bouquets originally consisted of herbs, spices, and garlic, which were believed to repel evil spirits. Over time, they were replaced with flowers to symbolize fertility as well. It has also been theorized that flowers were chosen for their fragrance; as perfumes and deodorants were not available back then, brides would use flowers to enhance their smell.

Other Related Questions and Answers

white flowers bouquet

What part of the wedding does the bouquet toss fall under?

On a typical wedding day, the bouquet toss is done as part of the wedding reception. Generally, it takes place after the toasts, meal, special dances, and the cake cutting. The DJ or emcee will announce to the crowd that the bouquet toss will be starting in a while, and begin to gather willing participants.

The bouquet toss itself takes about the length of a song, which, on average, is three and a half minutes. However, there are no strict guidelines for the duration of the bouquet toss. With that said, consider the venue, vendors, and guests as you decide how long this part of the reception will be.

As the bouquet toss is among the last things to take place in a wedding reception, guests usually resume dancing. Make sure to have plenty of upbeat and energetic songs to keep everyone engaged until it is time for the send-off, in which the couple makes their exit.

Do I have to toss my wedding bouquet?

No, you do not have to toss your actual wedding bouquet, as you can save this as a keepsake for your special day. With that said, you can purchase a second, smaller bouquet which will then be used for the bouquet toss. Many have noted that it is easier to catch smaller bouquets. Additionally, some alternatives are listed below in case you want a different item to toss.

When should I order my bouquet?

Generally, it is better to plan early and order items as early as possible. The same goes for your bouquets; if you can, order your wedding bouquets six to nine months before your special day.

How much does a wedding bouquet cost?

On average, a bridal bouquet costs around $160 to $250. Bridesmaid bouquets, which are smaller and less complex, cost $75 to $80 on average. These prices will vary depending on the intricacy of the design, size of the bouquet, the retailer, and more factors.

Usually, bridal and bridesmaid bouquets are included in the services provided by wedding florists. Work closely with your wedding florist to create your ideal bouquets and to determine their costs.

Are only girls allowed to participate in a bouquet toss?

girls before bouquet toss

No, whoever gets to join depends on the couple themselves and which guests are willing to partake in the tradition. Whereas tradition dictates that only unmarried women participate, nowadays even men can try to catch the bouquet if they want to. What is important is that everyone consents to be part of the tradition; do not force people to stand if they simply want to watch.

Are we required to have a bouquet toss at our wedding?

No, having a bouquet toss is optional. There are several reasons why a bouquet toss may not be for you: depending on the type of wedding ceremony you will be holding, such as proxy weddings or adventure elopements, a bouquet toss will not make sense; you may be planning on having an intimate reception with only close friends and family in attendance; you may think the tradition is antiquated and not suitable for you.

Regardless of the reason behind your decision, it is perfectly fine not to include the bouquet toss on your special day. Keep in mind, however, that there are various alternatives that may be a better fit for you and your partner.

What are the alternatives to a bouquet toss?

As mentioned earlier, you are not required to have a bouquet toss if it is not for you and your partner. It may also take a physical and emotional toll on your guests. There are several alternatives you can incorporate into your ceremony which have similar meanings and symbolisms as to that of a traditional bouquet toss.

  • Have all your married guests gather on the dance floor for an anniversary dance. As the music plays, the DJ or emcee will periodically count up years of marriage, starting from one, two, three, five, 15, 25, and so on. Once a couple hears the number that applies to them, they sit down. The last couple standing gets the bouquet; this not only expresses your admiration of the strength of their commitment, but might also be nostalgic on the couple’s part, as it may have been a while since they last “won” a bouquet.
  • Get a bouquet that breaks down into smaller bouquets and give it to your bridal party. Similarly, you may give them individual flowers, each with its special meaning. Doing this allows you to show appreciation to many people at once: your bridesmaids, your parents, and everyone else you want to honor.
  • Facilitate a game during your reception and give the bouquet as a prize for the winner. Common games include musical chairs, dance-off, limbo, trivia, freeze dance, and so on. Fun activities such as these are excellent ways to end the night on the most positive note.
  • Toss a different item. Common alternatives include a stuffed animal, the ring pillow, a boutonniere, a gift card, and some sweets. If you are having a themed wedding, an item that fits the theme is also a great option; for instance, if your reception’s theme is sports, you can toss a signed baseball or football.
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