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In Lieu of Bouquet and Garter Ceremony

The traditional bouquet and garter ceremony was once a staple of mini wedding events at a reception. As with anything done repeatedly and especially with something that has the potential to be somewhat embarrassing to the people involved, this ceremony has become an activity that many guests don’t look forward to. The unfortunate aspect of this realization is that it’s only half of the ceremony that people seem to dislike… the garter ceremony. It seems as though couples would rather replace the Bouquet/Garter ceremony than remove it all together so here are a few ideas that you can try in lieu of the usual bouquet and garter ceremony.

First, there is no rule book that says you must follow the bouquet toss with the garter toss. You could simply have the DJ announce that there will be no garter ceremony so there is no need to worry about being embarrassed (and you could go a bit further and invite not only the single ladies but all the women). If you go this route, I do recommend having the florist make the “throw-away” bouquet a bit more substantial than the normal arrangement. I have had some brides choose to do the garter ceremony because of a special garter gifted to them. Well, undoubtedly, the part of the whole ceremony that causes hesitancy is when the recipient of the garter puts the garter on the leg of the recipient of the bouquet. Just eliminate this step all together. (Again, ask the Emcee to make it clear to people that they need not worry about being embarrassed with that process.) If you go this route, I would suggest the first step in the process be your groom removing the garter and the second be a toss together. (Here, i think just the single people would be more appropriate.) To take this last idea even a step further… you could have the recipients of the garter and bouquet do a “good luck dance”, starting with the two of them… quickly requesting the bride and groom, and then the entire room to join, each couple representing 2 (or 5 if your superstitious) years good luck for the newlyweds. Choose a nice, non-romantic song such as Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” or better yet the popular Hawaiian medley by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole’ (IZ).

Another idea that is discussed amongst brides seems to have originated from Martha Stewart’s creativity. They refer to it as the fortune bouquet. MarthaStewartWeddings.com has an elegant description, “The traditional toss bouquet, when caught, tells one lucky receiver little more than that she will be the next to wed. But this distinctive toss bouquet is made up of a cluster of smaller bouquets, each bearing its own secret fortune that offers more detailed information about future husbands to a few agile [single] guests.” This bouquet is tossed and it breaks apart in the air and the ladies ideally will try to catch one. On the flower or mini, breakaway piece a fortune is tied. You can be as creative as you’d like, but I am partial to the guidance given on MarthaStewartWeddings.com. I did this at a wedding only once before and the bride had me read the fortunes… just make sure the fortunes are good and the Emcee is able to add lib to your liking.

Although there are a couple other ideas brought to my attention, the final concept I will mention here is the one that I am most familiar with, the Anniversary Dance. The old tradition of doing something for the single people (along with all of the relative theoretical meanings) is often being replaced with a dance dedicated to the married couples and more specifically the couple that has been married the longest. I know there are probably some variations on approach but I will tell you how it is done most successfully at wedding for which I am the Emcee.

First, I tell the guests, “Traditionally at this time of the reception [the bride] would throw her bouquet to the single ladies and we’d go through the whole garter ceremony, but tonight [the bride and groom] have something special planned for their bouquet. The would like to present it to a special couple in this room. But first we need to figure out who the couple is so before I explain how we will do this, [the bride and groom] need all of the married couple to please come to the dance floor”. Once I have the couple on the dance floor, I explain that we are going to do the Anniversary Dance. ”All of you married couples will join in dance with [the bride and groom], and throughout the dance I will eliminate you by the number of years that you’ve been married… ending up with the couple that has been married the shortest amount of time and the couple that has been married the longest. Then [the bride and groom] will present their bouquet to this couple as a symbol of their respect for this couple’s long, lasting marriage.” I feel it is very important to ask the guests several times to please not return to their seats as they are eliminated. “Remain on the edges of the dance floor so that we can acknowledge this special couple” So, I start with 5 year… please step to the sides of the dance floor. After we eliminate 25 years couples… we acknowledge those that are still out there. Then 30… and so on. Once we get to the last couple, I will fade the music and find out a bit about the couple. They get several rounds of applause and a nice picture withe bride and groom. Some Emcee’s take it a step further by asking the couple for some words of advice on how to make it so far… and the response is often quite humorous.

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