The other night, I was at a cocktail party discussing the future wedding of a friend of mine. She expressed distaste for the bouquet and garter toss.
I laughed. “I like that tradition. The pictures after with the winner…there’s always someone who looks uncomfortable in them. Those pictures are priceless.”
“True,” she said. “But you like awkward more than I do.”
It’s been rolling around in my head since it happened, because here’s the thing: I thought it was about being awkward. However, I don’t like genuinely awkward situations outright. There are merits that I like in them, and I could go into these, but I’ll focus on the subject at hand.
It can be arduous to put into words why something means something to you when you’re on the spot. Then you’re forced to respond and defend your opinions when you’re not sure why it even matters to you at all. Beliefs are weird like that.
It took a couple days, but I figured it out.
When I was 10, my mom’s boyfriend had a family member that was getting married. Niece, cousin, something, doesn’t matter. We went to a wedding in a huge building where the guest list must have included around 300 people.
I love weddings. I have ever since I was a flower girl at age four. You dress up, celebrate love, and own the dance floors. What’s not to love? People feed you, somebody drinks too much and acts silly, weddings are great.
When it came time for the bouquet toss, my mom explained that the DJ requested “All single ladies.” This was thrilling. I could be the next to get married.
In my small human mind, this was paramount to God’s law. A compilation of flowers and a pitch in the wind would determine the future of all the unattached women in the room. I didn’t care if it was “just for fun.” I wanted it to be true. I wanted that bouquet.
It’s not like I had a plan. There wasn’t anyone in fourth grade I could’ve pointed to and said, “YOU. We have a future together. The chrysanthemums told me. The prophecy must be fulfilled. Come with me.” All I had was a decree from my mother that I wouldn’t date until like FOREVER from now, and a boy in my class who failed to talk to me when I started what I assume was awkward elementary school talk. “Sooo you like basketball huh? I’ve played a few times.”
But this was about the future. This was about me and Mystery Man. The giant question mark. If I caught this bouquet, it would be sealing my fate. I would be getting married, and I’d beat all the older ladies in the room.
I did catch the bouquet. I think they took my picture. Once my triumph was complete, I was very receptive in leaving like my mom and her boyfriend wanted to do. We’d driven a couple of hours into another state for this, and it would take us time to get back.
It happened 21 years ago, but I still remember the victory that pulsed through my veins. When we got married, there wasn’t any question. I recognized that my single friends and family may not have been as excited as I was about it. But I’m surprisingly old fashioned sometimes. We also did the chicken dance for the same reason–because the chicken dance is fun regardless of what people say.
I get why someone wouldn’t want to do it. Especially if you had a small number of single friends and wouldn’t want to put anyone on the spot. When Parker and I got married, 95% of our friends were single. The only people our age we knew who were married were Parker’s sisters and my two sets of high school friends who’d gotten married earlier that year.
It also reminds me of something else that happened at our wedding that night. Parker’s best man had been dating someone for a long time but wasn’t quite right for him. He didn’t know it at the time. Our engagement caught him a little off guard. He hadn’t expected us to tie the knot so soon after dating even though we’d known each other for awhile.
My friend who caught the bouquet wanted it. I could see it in her eyes, and I liked it, because I saw the little me. The “my moment will be next” look. It only happens when someone catches the bouquet or when she gets engaged. It’s fleeting and beautiful.
But when Parker’s best man caught the garter, something else happened.
He was surprised. He got baffled. He did not want this. And a change came over him. He’s happy now. And even though that garter is a fraction of what was going on, to me, it represents a new beginning for him.
Which is why I will always love that wedding tradition.
All pictures without sources courtesy of Tumblr.com and Giphy.