It’s the end of the night, the speeches have been given, the guests have dined and danced, and it’s finally that time.
The time all eligible bachelorettes have been waiting for. They all line up behind the bride and wait for her to throw the bouquet, symbolically passing on the good wedding vibes to the next set of available women.
The throwing of the bouquet has been a part of weddings for so long that few people stop and think about it. The tradition originated in England, where female guests at a wedding would try to tear pieces of the bride’s gown or flowers in order to get some of her good fortune. In order to escape their attacks, the bride would throw the bouquet to distract the women. Nowadays, the bride turns her back, throws her bouquet, and the woman to catch it also catches the bride’s fortune, and will be the next to get married. Some brides throw a different bouquet, one made of silk, so that the woman who catches it can preserve it forever.
I’m sure you’ve noticed the term “fortune” pop up a few times already. I did as I was doing my research on the tradition, and it got me thinking. The context of the word, or its synonym “luck” suggests something that won’t likely happen, and if it does it is by a miracle. This attitude when combined with women and marriage is high-risk.
There is and always has been the idea that marriage is the ultimate end goal for women. An education and a career are great, but what would make that all complete is a loving husband to come home to. The idea that the bouquet should be preserved for life emphasizes the absolute importance of finding a husband as soon as possible. Throw fortune into the mix, and it all becomes skewed. Fortune suggests that while a woman should be on the prowl for a husband, she is going to have to work hard to get one. Otherwise, she is going to need the good luck the bouquet will bring.
While the bouquet creates an internal challenge within a woman, one which tells her that she needs all the extra luck she can to find a husband, it also creates a competition between women. I know what you’re thinking–obviously catching the bouquet creates competition! There are many women and only one bouquet, however it goes beyond that. Weddings are competitive as it is. Many single women involved in weddings wish they were the ones getting married, and women older than the bride feel the extra pressure to do something they should have done years ago.
Any romantic comedy with a wedding storyline will show you that if you get a bunch of women together for a wedding, a silent competition will ensue. Person A will be at her younger sister’s wedding alone, feeling like a loser because she has a great career but not a handsome man on her arm. Person B will compare herself to all the other single ladies at the wedding, all of them vying for the best man’s attention for one dance. So much emphasis is put on the importance of being the next one married and not on each and every woman’s self-esteem, accomplishments, and future goals.
It seems like I am putting so much weight on that poor bunch of flowers, but think about it this way: in the moment right before gravity takes over, when that bouquet is in midair, it is the only thing any of those women think is important. They put the weight of their future on it, even if they don’t realize. And I’m not saying that we should abolish this tradition–some girls dream of throwing the bouquet at their wedding for years, and who am I to take that away from them? However, I am saying that we need to take away the extreme importance the tradition has, and make weddings more about women supporting their female friends as they enter a new chapter of their lives. We can keep the bouquet, but let’s not forget that in the end it’s just flowers, and we are able to choose our destinies.