Centuries ago, brides traditionally carried with them aromatic bunches of garlic, fruit blossoms, herbs, and grains to drive away evil spirits and symbolize prosperity.
Over the years, the herbs and grains were replaced by flowers, a sign of happiness that represented fertility and everlasting love. At the same time, another tradition began that was not as popular with brides. Guests tried to get a fragment of the bride’s clothing as a symbol of good fortune, sometimes tearing the wedding dress apart before the bride left the celebration. Out of self defense and a desire to not have their dress torn to pieces, brides thought of some alternatives and so the bouquet and garter toss began.
Traditionally performed after the cake cutting, the groom removes and throws the garter to the unmarried gentlemen. Then the bride tosses her bouquet to the unmarried ladies. Both recipients are considered lucky and will be the next to wed, but, of course, not necessarily to each other.
Some ceremonies extend the ritual and include the gentleman putting the caught garter onto the lady who received the bouquet. A simple and beautiful custom, the bouquet toss celebrates the good fortune of the happy couple.