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Tossing the Bouquet and the Garter – My Two Cents

'26 Pegs wedding throwing the bouquet' photo (c) 2009, Ed - license:

Thanks to all who participated in the survey on the bouquet and garter tosses. The results were actually really close between all three options, so obviously there are lots of opinions out there on this topic.

I am just going to be honest here and say the bouquet and garter toss are probably my least favorite things about weddings. I know, sometimes they can be really fun, but sometimes they can also be awkward for all parties involved.

The Bouquet

First, let’s look at the bouquet toss. It used to be somewhat customary for overly enthusiastic guests to rush at the bride in order to grab parts of her dress and accessories, including the herbs or flowers she might carry. So in order to preempt this, she would throw her flowers to the crowd to keep them at bay.

Now the bride throws her bouquet behind her back to a group of single ladies who are supposed to clamor for the honor of catching it, and the superstition that goes along with it—that the recipient will be the next to marry. In talking with several of my single friends, many of them have said the bouquet toss is the hardest thing about attending weddings. Once the emcee announces the bride will be throwing the bouquet, often a single woman is pushed and prodded by well-meaning friends and family out to the center of the floor, where she is expected to make a spectacle of herself in desperation for future marriage.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Come on, lighten up, Parks. It’s just a bouquet toss.” True, and in your circumstances this may not be a problem, but I would encourage brides to ask their single friends and family members how they feel about it. It is difficult enough to attend a wedding when you are wondering if you will one day be celebrating your own marriage or when you have perhaps had a previous marriage that failed.

This is one area where I believe it is best to err on the side of caution out of respect for others. Singleness is not something that makes a person less-than, but rather a reflection of a sovereign God’s plan for someone’s life. The Church would benefit from honoring and celebrating the single believers in our lives who are actively serving and loving Him, rather than suggesting they should be sitting on the sidelines waiting for something else—something “better.”

The Garter

The garter toss comes from an old tradition called “bedding.” In this custom a crowd of people would follow the bride and groom from the wedding to the bridal chamber and would then remove the couple’s shoes, stockings and outer garments and tuck them into bed. After giving the bride and groom a cup of spiced wine and cheering loudly as they drank, the crowd would leave. Tradition has it the bride would choose to remove her garters before someone else could get to them and would then throw them to keep the crowd from getting too close. While (thankfully) the bedding custom died out in the eighteenth century, we now have the garter toss as a souvenir of the horrors of this old tradition.

In modern times the garter toss is an opportunity for grown men to fight over another man’s wife’s undergarment. I knew a guy who went to several weddings and made it his goal to collect the garter at each. He then hung them on his rearview mirror (classy), driving around with married women’s lacy underthings hanging in his car. Seeing that made me feel even more strongly about this subject.

Grooms, do not subject your wife to this, please. Whether you engage in some sensual de-gartering dance at the reception or just throw a garter your new wife hands you, you are, in essence, giving another man a piece of your wife’s intimate clothing. No honoring of tradition should mandate this.

Often it isn’t the grooms who care about it, but rather the brides who think it is traditional and should therefore be part of the reception program. My friend Amy said her husband did not want to do the garter toss, but since their photographer was encouraging it they went ahead. Her husband was, in Amy’s words, “mortified” when a toddler caught her garter. Of course the wedding guests laughed about it, but personally I think a picture of a groom and a toddler holding the bride’s lingerie is a little uncomfortable, and in retrospect she wished they had not done it.

So what do you think? Am I being overly critical of harmless traditions? 

Next week I will share some alternative ideas to the bouquet and garter tosses. If you have any to share, please let me know! I’ve really enjoyed the comments so far on this topic.

Book Survey – Throwing the Bouquet and Garter

'Bouquet toss' photo (c) 2008, John Mayer - license:
As I write this book I continue to realize how tempting it is to just fill it with my opinions. But that is not the point of the book, and I pray and strive to make it not about me or what I think. At the same time, I cannot just shrug off my own thoughts without examining them to see why I think a certain way.

The beauty is I’m learning this applies to all areas of life–generally I think a certain way for one of two reasons: 1. It happens to be what I believe fits with a gospel-centered perspective and goal, or 2. It’s just my personal preference based on my own tastes (much of the time from selfishness).

I want my motivation in writing this book to always be Reason #1.

Over the next week or two I will be posting a bit about the bouquet and garter toss traditions, but first I would like to do a quick survey to see what YOU think–did you do one? Do you think they’re a good idea? Do they have any negative connotations for you?

I would be so grateful if you would take a quick minute to answer the question below.

AND, please leave comment or shoot me an email (catherinestrodeparks(at)gmail(dot)com) if you have more thoughts! Thanks so much.

What is a Bridesmaids Luncheon?

'85/365 - Bridesmaid's Luncheon' photo (c) 2007, Lauren Nelson - license: couple of days ago I posted a question on Facebook about Bridesmaids Luncheons. So many of you participated and were super helpful in providing info. Apparently this is not as common a tradition as I previously thought. I still can’t tell if it’s a regional thing or not. One respondent said maybe it’s a holdover from a previous generation that is still honored mostly in the South.

I am a product of the South. My parents were living in Little Rock when they met and were married, so many of the traditions they took part in were southern traditions. Thus, when it was time for my wedding, my planning was very much influenced by southern customs. My bridesmaids, however, were from all over the place—from Atlanta to the Philippines. My Matron of Honor and her mother hosted a Bridesmaids Luncheon for me the day before the wedding and I think it was an unfamiliar tradition to some of the members of my bridal party, and I don’t think they’re alone. What seemed common to me is, in fact, just an optional event for the wedding week.

It might have its origin in the South, or it could just be a holdover from a previous generation. Whatever the source of the Bridesmaids (or Bridal) Luncheon, it is certainly not a required event. However, if you elect to have one, or are just curious as to what it is, here are some thoughts on planning an uplifting, meaningful time for the bride and her attendants.

In general terms, the Bridesmaids Luncheon is a small party given by the bride in honor of her bridesmaids. It is a chance for the bride to thank them and spend special time with them in the midst of the wedding rush. It can also be hosted by a family member or friend on the bride’s behalf. It is commonly held the day before the wedding as a precursor to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The guest list includes the female members of the bridal party as well as both the bride’s and groom’s mothers and any other close female family members. You can also invite other close friends associated with the wedding—a soloist, flower girls and their mothers, etc.

I personally love this tradition because it’s a chance for the bride to give back to those who have sacrificed to serve her. It is one moment in which the focus is on others, and it’s just a great time to relax and be with close friends and family members. It can also be a special time to focus on the Lord, surrounded by those who know and love the bride best.

On Facebook my friend Winnie shared what made her luncheon special:

A very close family friend hosted my bridesmaids luncheon and also invited women who had influenced me and pointed me to Christ. We ate and I gave my gals some gifts. These precious women asked me about my fears/concerns/hopes and then spent time praying for me. I am so thankful for that time.

Another benefit to this event is that it gives members of the bridal party a chance to get to know one another if they have never met. My college roommate had a bridal tea the day before the wedding and everyone was asked to wear a hat. Now, understand she lives in Knoxville, TN and this was a very southern event. We had a great time sipping tea, modeling our hats and getting to know each other, mostly by telling stories about the bride. She was the common denominator and telling these stories—some embarrassing, some heart-warming—was a fun shared experience for all of us.

Have you been to a Bridesmaids Luncheon that was particularly special or meaningful? What made it great?

Book Help: Bridal Showers

'Bridal Shower Favor' photo (c) 2010, Travis Modisette - license:

We just returned from a week-long trip to visit family in Kansas and Arkansas, which included some much-needed play time with my precious niece, Liya. Our trip also granted us the joy, thanks to my brother, of acquiring Nerf guns. So far only one person has been shot in the face at point-blank range, but I am fairly certain he was the first of many.

While away I had a little time to work on a chapter dealing with showers, registries, parties and other gift-related subjects. In the past the blog has been a great source of feedback and help in thinking through certain topics, so I’m going to put a couple more questions out there in the hopes that you, my wonderful friends, might help me.

So here they are:

1. What is the most unique wedding shower you have been to?

2. What is the most encouraging or uplifting thing you have seen at a shower? 

If you have a couple of minutes to answer I would be so grateful. And, your answer just might end up in the book! You can leave a comment below or email me at: catherinestrodeparks(at)gmail(dot)com (spelled out to avoid spam).

As always I love to hear/read your thoughts, so let me know if you have any other ideas. This is such a community effort and I love getting feedback and wisdom from others who have thought through these subjects.

Wedding Registry Poll #2

One of the challenges with writing a book about weddings is that trends in the wedding industry are constantly changing. It’s difficult to strike that balance between respect for certain time-honored traditions while also recognizing that some changes are really good things and should be embraced.

For me one of those changes that I’ve had to choose to embrace is the online RSVP. At first I was hesitant because it just didn’t seem formal enough. But now I think it’s great. The ease of going online and letting the bride and groom know you will or will not be attending the wedding saves me (a somewhat disorganized person) the trouble of remembering to save the RSVP card and send it back on time. As an added benefit, you can automatically import results into a spreadsheet, and you save on postage! Win win.

There are other things I struggle to accept, such as camouflage wedding gowns. I don’t even know what to say about that.

Many of these preferences are just that–matters of personal taste. But some I think are indicative of a change in mindset regarding the purpose of a wedding. For instance, what is the purpose of a wedding shower? What is the purpose of inviting guests to your wedding? We can easily slip into the mindset of seeing people as commodities–the more people, the more presents. It’s like a small child at Christmas–the more grandparents he visits, the more gifts he’ll get. This mindset creeps in without us even noticing it.

So that brings me to my poll for today. I’m trying to determine if this particular trend is one that should be embraced or not, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In recent years it seems to have become more common for couples to include a list of places they’re registered with the wedding invitation. Note, this is not a survey about shower invitations, but specifically the wedding invite. What are your thoughts? If you have more to say on the subject, leave a comment! I’d love to hear more thoughts on this.

Thanks so much!

Gift Registry, or My China-Sized Ego

'Morning Glory Gift Wrap' photo (c) 2009, - license:

Thanks to so many of you who participated in the poll a couple of days ago! It really surprised me how few people registered for fine china, and made me a little sad that I still have boxes of it at my parents’ house. At the time I got married (7 years ago) I thought I had to register for china and crystal and an extra set of flatware. So now I have boxes of china, crystal, and flatware in two states.

I’ve been debating how much to get into the registry process in the book. I definitely want to stay away from giving readers a list of “Dos and Don’ts for a Christ-Centered Wedding Registry.” At the same time, I think there are things to think through before we register–things I wish I would have thought through.

I recently sat down with some of my best friends and we talked about what we wish we had known when we registered for wedding gifts. My sister-in-law and I both agree we would not register for china if we had it to do over. For one thing, I just don’t use it. Occasionally Erik and I use it for a special dinner or I’ll get it out for Easter. But we just aren’t fine china people. We’re t-shirt, jeans, and Chinet people. Also, we have no room for an extra set of dishes, glasses, and silverware. And I’m not sure we ever will. And if we did, it would just mean we had extra cabinets where we could store things we never use. So again, not practical for us.

However, some people are china people. I get that. They use it to make guests feel welcome. They use it to honor people and show them they are important. They minister to others in this way. And that can be a great thing. But I struggle with my motivation–if I get out the china is it to show people I love them, or to show them how much I’m loved? Is it to make them feel important, or to show them how important I am? Now, please know I am talking about myself here, not anyone else. I just know myself well enough to seriously question my motivation. I am a people-pleaser and a praise-craver. So if you ever come over and I serve dinner on china, please do me a favor and don’t compliment me on it. Together we can crush this ego of mine.

My college roommate, Randi, said she would think of her registry now as a means to practice the joy of hospitality. I love this. And the beautiful thing about it is that it’s different for each of us, but it gives a goal and a vision for the ministry of marriage. If your desire is to serve the body of Christ and to serve your neighbors, co-workers, friends–how can you best do that? I think a lot of it comes down to how we view our possessions. I don’t believe possessions are inherently bad or good; it’s how we use them that matters. And so the question is what is your motivation for registering for these things?

And just to preempt any fears you might have of where I’m going with this, I think there is a great benefit to things that allow us to relax and recharge. So I certainly do not want to give anyone the impression that only those things that directly relate to tangible service should be registered for. And this is why I’m not sure how much to delve into this subject in the book. It is, like everything else in life, a matter of the heart.

For more on a ministry of hospitality, there is a great series currently going on over at Grace Covers Me.

I hope to do a couple more posts on this topic in the coming days, but in the meantime I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you wish you would have registered for? What do you wish you would not have registered for? If you’re getting married now, how is the registry process going for you?

Wedding Registry Poll #1

So I’m about to start writing on parties, showers and registries and need a little help. This week I’ll be posting a series of short polls and would love your input. Mom and I are trying to get a feel for current trends and thoughts related to wedding registries and showers. If you have about 10 seconds to answer the question below, that would be great. And if you want to leave a comment to explain your answer, that would be great too (but is not required. Well none of this is required…but so helpful!).


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