I believe the bridal bouquet toss, like capers in salad dressing or advertising in restroom stalls, is perfectly ridiculous and should be done away with immediately.
Last year at my cousin’s elegant and boisterous wedding, I was bantering with an acquaintance when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a family friend’s mom, donned in a sky blue suit that offset her ash gray hair.
“Hi, Mrs. Karras,” I said and kissed her on the cheek. “You look pretty tonight.”
“Not now,” she said and recoiled. Her manner implied she had discovered a live grenade in the courtyard, or that the caterer was low on baklava.
“Your cousin’s about to toss the bouquet,” she said and pointed to the throng of single women gathering on the dance floor.
“Oh, okay,” I replied and turned back to my conversation.
“No,” Mrs. Karras exclaimed, tugging my elbow. “You go out there.” It occurred to me that, in a past life, Mrs. Karras was quite likely Genghis Khan.
My female pal, married and therefore inoculated from the developing quagmire, winked and scuttled off while I politely disengaged myself from the woman who used to scold me to pull up my knee socks.
“Mrs. Karras,” I said and took her hands, if for no other reason than to keep them in check, “I think the bouquet toss is outdated. It makes women seem desperate and silly.”
She looked at me as if I’d just impugned the Archbishop, or revealed that I sometimes eat baby.
She wrested free and wagged her finger at me. “This is why you’re single. You don’t believe in love.”
I wanted to tell her that, of course, this wasn’t true; that I believe in love as surely as I believe the earth rotates the sun. As I started to respond, a drum roll rattled from the stage and the bandleader announced, “Okay, ladies! Here we go! Who’s going to be the lucky girl?”
Mrs. Karras and I shifted and faced the dance floor. My cousin looked radiant and fifty or so women in varied states of sobriety jostled each other and laughed as they vied for position. I had to admit, the proceedings appeared harmless. Then my cousin lobbed her ornate mass of lilies and a red-sheathed woman with enough cleavage to hide a Datsun snagged it and held it aloft, as if it were an Olympic medal or the severed head of a vanquished foe. “It’s my turn!” she yelled, having apparently triumphed over singlehood. “It’s my turn!”
“That could have been you,” Mrs. Karras said and left dejectedly. I stood alone, happy for the woman in red: she got what she wanted. But when it comes to love, what you want and what you think you want are sometimes different things, and inflated expectations often lead to trouble down the road.
I knew I wouldn’t figure it all out tonight. I set off to find a slice of wedding cake. And maybe someone to dance with.