Today I will witness the nuptials of a lifelong friend and her beau. I’m happy for her and it is my earnest prayer that they will have a successful and beautiful marriage full of God’s choice blessings. As I consider the festivities on today’s agenda I remember standing with my friend at her first wedding as her Matron of Honor. Then I remembered the other countless weddings in which I was the Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor or Bridesmaid. I thought of the numerous weddings I attended as a guest and the number of bouquets I caught hoping the myth would in fact become reality for me. Well I can bare witness to the fact that lie ranks right up there with Santa Claus. In fact, not only did I have my own personal collection of bridal bouquets that I caught, but at one wedding I attended in particular, not only did I catch the bouquet but my date….the gentleman I had probably been dating at that point for eight or nine years…caught the garter. Now, if the foolishness of old wives tales were true, then he and I would have been married. Especially since he was the man I was dating during 95% of the weddings in question.
But I digress; this blog is not about him. As I was writing this morning I thought, where did the throwing of the bouquet originate from? Has anyone who ever participated in the tradition thought to research the background? I know I had not, until today (thank God for the Internet and Google).
“In medieval Europe, a bride typically did not expect to wear her wedding dress again, and the dress was considered good luck for other women, a type of fertility charm. After the wedding, single women chased the bride and ripped pieces off her dress, leaving her in tatters. Over the years, wedding dresses became more expensive and it became traditional for women to keep them, either as a memento or to pass on to a daughter for her wedding day. To prevent guests from ripping the wedding dress, brides began throwing other objects as a distraction, one of which was the garter (an elastic band, usually decorated, worn around the thigh just above the knee used to hold up stockings). Later the bouquet became the most traditionally thrown object. The wedding bouquet is particularly suited to this use, as followers symbolize fertility, and as perishable items, they are not something the bride would wish to keep. The bouquet is also a safer item to toss than the garter, as unruly and impatient wedding guests were sometimes known to try to take the garter from the bride while she was still wearing it.”
Very interesting and funny story. I envisioned the bride being chased by a crowd of women who wanted to rip her dress off of her and it made me chuckle. And while in some cases the ‘lucky’ woman who caught the bouquet was next in line to get married I would be willing to bet that number is very small. But aside from the number of bouquets I have caught, what about the closet full of dresses I had collected over the years? Remember the movie 27 Dresses? It was a comedy about a woman who after serving as a bridesmaid 27 times, wrestles with the idea of standing by her sister’s side as her sibling marries the man she’s secretly in love with. That was me (minus watching someone marry the man I was secretly in love with….that is a different blog). But my wedding dress game was so tight I could have auctioned them off and lived comfortably for a year. I had every style, length and color. Yet the one dress I wanted to have I did not.
I remember thinking during every wedding I attended, when will it be my turn? When will I finally get the proposal? When will I get to plan an engagement party? When will I get to do an engagement photo shoot? When will I get to plan the wedding of my dreams (I had an entire scrapbook that highlighted every single detail of how I wanted my wedding)? When will I mail save the date cards with pictures of my fiancé and me from our younger days? When I will get to mail wedding invitations? When will I choose my Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor and Bridesmaids? When will I go dress shopping, cake shopping, venue shopping? When exactly will I have my moment to be center stage, happy and blissful as friends and family celebrate my nuptials? When?!? That was the million dollar question and at every wedding I could not help but ask. I had become so consumed with the fact that it was not happening for me that I vowed to never again be part of a wedding unless it was mine.
Now, you are probably thinking I was jealous and envious and you would be correct. But, I was also genuinely happy for the newlyweds. I never threw shade or acted different. I genuinely prayed for them and wished them well. But inside it was eating me up and yes sometimes I became angry. But angry at whom exactly? I cannot say I was angry at God because I did not know him at the time. I dare not say I was angry at myself because let’s face it, it wasn’t my fault men were afraid of marriage and commitment. So it was safe to say I was mad at men…ok, one man.
But here I am today preparing to witness my friend begin a new journey and I am in a very different place. No longer do I wonder when it will happen because I know it will happen. God has told me it will. No longer am I feeling anxious or angry about attending another friend’s wedding. My focus has shifted to how I now cultivate a mindset for marriage while I am single and waiting. Tis the season for weddings, may God’s blessings shower them til death do they part.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)