Hundreds of years ago, it was thought to be very good luck to touch the bride. This often caused discomfort and invasion of privacy to the bride, since guests would typically stand around her in an attempt to rip the gown off! (Uh, no thanks!) In order to deter guests, the bride began tossing their bouquets into the crowds to distract people....
Today, brides toss their bouquets into a crowd of single women, and whoever catches the bouquet is said to be next in line for a happy marriage. The tradition is innocent and something brides and guests can look forward to together.
There's nothing more demeaning than standing in a group of women you don't know, drawn together only by your singleness. To fight for a way out of that singleness—whether you actually want it or not—in the form of reaching for a handful of flowers is the icing on the wedding cake. As The Knot puts it:
You know what single people don’t like? Being called out for being single—especially at the romantic celebration of two professed soul mates. The bouquet toss, although harmless in its intent, shines a spotlight on anyone who isn’t married and promotes the assumption that marriage is what everyone should strive toward.
Not everyone strives for marriage, and the bouquet toss directly implies that everything women should want in life is to be happily married. It's past time to do away with this tradition.
But the bouquet toss is all in good fun. According to The Washington Post's Lisa Bonos, the bouquet toss is among the least offensive of all wedding traditions:
Even though the bouquet toss is a not-so-subtle endorsement of married life, to me it also underscores how random love is. You have to be at the right place, at the right time for both of you, for a committed relationship to work out...If a happy newlywed wants to throw some luck my way, however random and meaningless, I’ll take it.
No one is making you participate if you'd rather sit the flower-grab out. Still, the tradition should remain for those who do enjoy it—even when it doesn't go according to plan.
Ethical argument aside, the bouquet toss can be flat out dangerous. Brides itself warns:
Since the bouquet toss usually happens toward the end of the night, it can get rowdy, competitive and even bloody if someone reaches too high and elbows someone else along the way or steps on their feet accidentally while running forward toward the bouquet of peonies.
No one wants to be stabbed and scratched by thorns and stems at the end of a wedding. Keep your guests safe and forgo this outdated tradition.