From what we can tell, the tradition of a bride tossing her bouquet into a crowd of unmarried bridesmaids, sisters, cousins and female wedding guests has somewhat unusual and rather unfortunate origins. Evidently, wedding guests in medieval times considered the wedding dress to be lucky and would try to rip off pieces of it before the end of the night. Supposedly, brides started throwing their wedding bouquets into the crowd to distract them while she and her new husband made their getaway.
We have no idea whether this story is true or not (to be honest, it sounds a bit like an urban legend to us), but as wedding photographers based in the Washington, DC area, we can say with certainty that the custom has become a regular part of the majority of modern-day marriage celebrations. Most of the nuptials that we photograph pause during the reception so that the single ladies can line up and try to catch the bouquet.
The tradition is obviously not right for every bride and groom. Beyond the fact that a bouquet toss is a only specific facet of wedding celebrations in certain cultures, many brides- and grooms-to-be find the idea of unmarried women wrestling over who gets to be the next one to marry to be a relic of a less enlightened past. However, there are plenty of future spouses who want to include it in their nuptials, seeing it as a goofy and fun interlude during the revelry of a wedding reception. As with every matrimonial tradition, every couple who is tying the knot must, of course, choose what best fits their personalities and cultural backgrounds.
Fiancés who do opt to incorporate a bouquet toss into their marriage celebrations will invariably end up with some unforgettable images of the moment. Pictures of the bride arched backwards with her arm outstretched, the flowers arcing through the air and a group of women (and at one wedding we photographed, a young boy) leaping and stretching to catch the projectile are the type that end up winning wedding photography contests. They are sweeping, dynamic, emotional and above all, powerful pictures. We love the opportunity to capture those moments on film.
This particular photo comes from nuptials that we photographed at the Springfield Manor Winery Distillery Brewery outside of Frederick, Maryland. Located in the verdant Catoctin Mountains about 90 minutes from downtown Washington, DC, the venue is a perfect location for any bride or any groom looking to hold their nuptial event in a place that combines the elegance of an old manor house, the rustic charm of the mountains and the natural beauty of a working vineyard. After the couple tied the knot in a lovely outdoor wedding ceremony on the manor house’s back lawn, they and their guests came back inside for a rollicking reception.
Near the end of the night, the DJ cut the music and invited all the unmarried women to the center of the dance floor. The bride stood with her back to the group, gave a few pump-fakes and heaved the bouquet over her shoulders and into the air. As the flowers soared through the air, the excitement flowed from the single ladies to all the guests who were watching the spectacle. As you can see in this image, everyone there was caught up in the moment, either cheering or waiting to see who would catch the bouquet.