Of all the wedding traditions and superstitions we are digging into in this series, this one has got to be one of the strangest. Why do the single and unmarried wedding guests subject themselves to being corralled on the dance floor at the reception, elbows up, knees bent, as they prepare to launch themselves at the bride’s bouquet and garter?
Well, yes…obviously to ensure their future happiness in a life of marital bliss by magically becoming the next in line to marry. Of course there’s that.
We have all watched the bride throw away her beautiful, undoubtedly expensive collection of wedding flowers, or witnessed the groom peeling of her garter with his teeth from under layers of white tulle and lace, but have you ever wondered WHY we do this? Where does this bizarre wedding tradition come from?
(But first, if you missed the other traditions and superstitions in this series, you can get caught up here now!)
Okay, we have to go way, WAY back for this one.
Good old medieval England can be credited with the superstition that a bride’s wedding dress brought good luck and fertility to those who came into contact with it. They believed this with such fervor that at the end of the wedding reception, the guests would chase the bride as she tried to escape to “Make Things Official” with her groom, and they would rip her wedding dress to shreds in the hopes of coming away with a small piece of fabric to keep for themselves as a good luck charm.
Fast forward a few years and wedding dresses became increasingly more expensive and more cherished. Add to that the fact that being mobbed couldn’t have been a fun way to wrap up your wedding day! The bride and groom started to appease the throngs of greedy guests by throwing first her garter into the crowd, and in later years also her bouquet, to create a distraction, and ensure themselves a clean getaway to the honeymoon suite!
The woman who catches the bouquet, and the man who catches the garter are said to have caught the good fortune of the bride and groom, and will be next in line to marry.
Keep this story in mind at the next wedding you attend, and you watch the unruly guests jostle each other for a better position on the dance floor , while Beyonce bellows from the speakers. “Uh oh, Uh oh, Uh oh. Oh no no….” We really haven’t come that far, have we?
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