Q: I think the garter toss is tacky, but everyone says it's a time-honored tradition and we should include it in our reception. Do we have to do it, or is there an alternative?

A: Yes, the garter toss is time-honored—it got its start in medieval times. Guests would rip and tear at the bride's clothes to snag a piece of the fabric, which was thought to bring them good luck. Often, the bride would strip off her stockings and garters to throw to the pack so she could escape. (Yikes!) Fortunately, guests have become more civilized through the centuries. Now, the groom strips the garter off the bride to campy stripper music, then tosses it into a pack of salivating unmarried men.

The garter tradition has (thankfully) started to lose favor recently. If you prefer to ax this ritual from your reception repertoire, but still want to do something, you can opt for one of these less titillating alternatives. Make the bouquet toss co-ed. Watch all your single friends battle it out for the big prize. Give the bouquet to your favorite person. Honor your parents or his, a special grandmother or a friend who was such a big help during the wedding planning. Hand it over to the longest-married couple. Have your DJ or band play a special "marrieds-only" song. The band leader or DJ will first ask those married eight hours or less to leave the floor (that means you), then five years or less, ten years or less and so on, until there's one couple left standing. They get the prize—your flowers.

See all questions about wedding ceremonies and traditions

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