Tossing The Groom A Tradition That Carries On…

Learning all the Traditions of various cultures isn’t easy as a Wedding Officiant and Coordinator or Floral Designer. There are so many variations of what Clients want or traditions that their families want incorporated into ceremonies that it isn’t uncommon for me or any Officiant on my Team to “study up” on a request that we are unfamiliar with. 

At a Destination Wedding in Lompoc, California, my twin sister and I had a handful of surprises that included the Groom becoming tangled in the rented patio lights over the dance floor, a witness scribbling out her old address on the Marriage License and a guest passing out from having too much to drink while a toddler had accidentally locked herself in a vehicle. Yes. All of these “Incidents” happened at the same wedding and ironically, around the same time.

Cindy or I hadn’t heard of the Groom Tossing Tradition and after hearing the Mother of the Groom scream “he’s falling,” did our attention wander to the Groom precariously positioned over the guests and the dance floor entangled in the patio lights. 

Events are a learning curve from interfaith ceremonies to time honored traditions. I encourage creativity at Events because client input makes every event unique and memorable. 

One of the most colorful and fun Mexican wedding customs is that of ‘tossing the groom’. Early in the reception at a wedding, the groomsmen and male guests all converge on the groom and hoist him into the air. 

He may be covered with the bride’s veil as a symbolic shroud as the men, with much teasing and joking, carry him around the hall and toss him into the air. 

The guests and groomsmen may joke that now the Groom is married, he’s as good as dead, though the tradition is meant to symbolize the death of his bachelorhood and beginning of his new life as a lucky married man.

I’m always asked about our “wildest” moments on location but in all honesty, there have been far more surprises than anyone realizes. People are unpredictable. 

While the California Wedding had been perfectly planned and executed, no one expected a guest to become intoxicated and a “flasher.” 

Since I’ve never encountered anyone skipping underwear in over 1,300 events and much less “flashing” the guests, the Incident was more than a little surprising and verged on shocking. 

Getting the Groom safely down from the patio lights took a bit of time too. Minutes after freeing the Groom, a guest had decided to “update” her address by scribbling out her old address on the Marriage License. 

Although I was standing over the witnesses, the Groom was asking me a question when this happened and my niece, Leigh Ann was running towards me screaming “Maddy has locked herself in the rental!” My twin sister was trying to whisper that a guest had passed out. 

Although I’m always “aiming for a moment of silence” while addressing the signing of the Marriage License, there was literally so much going on at the same time during the signatures that it wasn’t until the Bride started crying “you’ve ruined my wedding” at the witness that I realized the problem. The witness had marked out her address.The first photo (above) shows that I’m carefully showing the first witness exactly where to sign. 

As the anxious couple watch the signing of the License, the second witness is actually paying attention to the guest on the dance floor and my niece approaching me about the toddler locked in a vehicle. I’m ignoring the ruckus and focusing on directing the witness. 

The Groom and second witness are watching the dance floor and the action while only the Bride, myself and the first witness are actually paying attention to the signatures.The third photo (below) is where the Groom asks me a question and inadvertently takes my attention from the second witness.Marriage Licenses have strict guidelines of writing within the lines and no cross outs. 

It took mere seconds for the witness to make a mistake but… that mistake would have me filing an Amended Petition to correct the issue. The Officiant is responsible for resolving any issue with the Marriage License.

It only takes a moment for a witness to make a mistake on a Marriage License. For years, I’ve never had a problem with a witness but, after the Lompoc Incident, I now have couples and witnesses follow me to a quiet area for the signatures. 

“What could go wrong usually does” is my son’s favorite summation of unexpected Incidents on location. I prefer to think of my cup as half full rather than half empty. I’m am eternal optimist. 

If something goes wrong at an event, I work to resolve the issue with my Team rather than having a meltdown on location. It’s the best way to handle surprises whether you’re prepared for them or not.

The License issue was resolved after I went to the Santa Barbara County Clerks Office and filed the Amended Petition. The Groom wasn’t hurt during the toss. The toddler was safely removed from the vehicle and the guest who was unaware of “flashing” everyone was cut from video and photos to save the photos and videography of the wedding. 

Other than covering the expense of the rented patio lighting, all was well that ended well. Will my Team ever forget the Wildest Wedding we have ever handled? No. 

You learn something new everyday and hopefully, that knowledge prevents you from further surprises at the next event. No panties is shocking, a mistake signing the license, a Groom caught in the lights and a toddler locked in a vehicle were all pretty surprising but, a guest who has had  “a few too many” on location is normal for my Team and when there’s an Open Bar, expected.

I love Money Dances at Weddings! The money dance is referred to by a number of names, including the dollar dance and the apron dance, depending on the ethnic customs.In exchange for a few fun-filled seconds whirling around the dance floor with the bride or groom, guests can either pin cash on the newlywed couple’s clothing, toss coins into the bride’s shoes or tuck bills into a dainty satin satchel that the bride wears around her wrist. 

The money dance receives a lot of criticism from brides and grooms who are unfamiliar with the cultural custom. 

However, in many traditions, guests eagerly anticipate the money dance “moment,” lining up for song after song until they get their intimate moment. 

It is not uncommon for guests to wait until this time to present the newlyweds with their wedding gift, slipping them some cash to help build a nest egg for their future dreams. It is equally likely that a guest will pin a $1, $5 or $100 bill on the bride’s dress or the groom’s tux. 

Many sources mistakenly credit the tradition with originating in the Polish community in the early 1900s. In fact, the money dance has been a celebrated wedding ritual for centuries in dozens of cultures around the world, ranging from the U.S. to South America to Europe. 
In the U.S., the money dance is a regional tradition that is most prevalent throughout the Southern and Midwestern states.

American brides from Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma to Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin all report that the money dance is an important part of the local reception rituals. 

Typically, the dance takes place toward the end of the formal festivities, after the cake-cutting and bouquet toss but before the majority of the guests leave.

The Money Dance gives guests an opportunity to spend a few moments with the Bride or Groom and most clients love incorporating this tradition into their reception.
I spend a lot of time waiting when I’m Officiating a wedding. This is standard at a wedding, baptism or funeral. 

Preparing clients for hours of photos at their event by suggesting food and snacks is essential to the couple enjoying the many photo ops at their event. 

A few clients don’t realize how many times they are going to be asked for a photo. Eating a bit prior to the ceremony keeps the Bride and Groom from becoming cranky at the Ceremony or Reception. Traditionally, a wedding and the rehearsal can run anywhere from 2 hours to 8 hours on location which makes for a very long day.

At my sons wedding years ago, the cake was cut and served by the baker who forgot to save any cake for the couple. Not surprisingly, my son and his wife were upset about the cake but even more agitated that the caterers served the food while they were still doing photos and by the time they were ready to eat, all of the food and cake had disappeared. 

Because I was in the wedding photos, directing the caterers and baker fell by the wayside and taught me the importance of having a backup Coordinator on location. 

My twin sister and I work as a Team on location and although it’s no everyday that couples want me (when Officiating the wedding) in their photos, it happens frequently. 

When Clients have rented a venue for a short window, it’s imperative for everyone to arrive on time. At the Botanic Gardens a few months ago, both Grooms were running late and by the time the ceremony finally started, the staff at the Gardens were folding the chairs before we had a chance for photos. 

I instructed Leigh Ann to get photos while the chairs were being broken down to ensure the couple and their families had photos of their event before the entire wedding party were “booted from the Botanic Gardens!” Giving couples time for photos with everything else going on requires planning. Timelines at any event are carefully outlined far ahead of the actual event.

I’m often quoted as saying “no wedding has ever started on time because they haven’t.” Overestimating ensures that there is time for everything once the event begins.

Guests often want photos of everything which is why my photographers operate on timelines of exactly what family photos they are getting as well as photos of the reception. Being on location for 6-8 hours without having an opportunity to eat is hard on photographers. Everyone wants them to “go get a photo of this or take a photo of that.” 

At a wedding a few months ago, my niece had been working with the Grooms to make sure they had photos of everything they wanted before we left to headed to our next event. While packing up to leave, one of the guests approached my niece and told her “I wanted you to get photos of this before you leave.” As a coordinator and Officiant, I’m constantly reminding my Team that we are on location to make the clients happy not their guests. It’s important to factor in time for everything the couple wants but, if we took direction from the guests, we would never be able to handle more than one event on the same day.

Inlaws and Outlaws are the combination of the new family marriage is bringing you along with a few new relatives that behave badly at your event. 

Although we know you love all of your guests, when you bring your entire family and friends from different stages of your life into one room, drama is nearly inevitable. 

At weddings of all sizes and budgets, a few types of guests always seem to show up: the drunk aunt, the screaming child, and the groomsman who won’t give up the microphone, just to name a few. 

The term Outlaw was actually coined by my twin sister at an event years ago where everyone was trying to tell us what they wanted without considering that the clients were in charge of their day. 

The bottom line: It’s impossible to make everyone happy. Either learn to live with difficult guests, or enlist your friends and wedding planner to intervene – and then let it go. “You are responsible for your happiness, so don’t allow any one person to be so important that they ruin your day whether it’s a guest or new Inlaw.” 

Timelines at any event dictate what we have time for and what we don’t. If the Bride or Groom are running over an hour late to their wedding, the tardiness of one set of clients impacts the other clients scheduled on the same day. Because of this, I have Late Fees for Event Services.

While we understand that a flat tire or a torn hem can impact a client arriving on time, being 1-2 hours late to your own wedding wreaks havoc on our schedules.

Incorporating Religious References and Traditions into your ceremony makes your event memorable and fun. We encourage clients to carve out enough time to do everything they want and have their day- their way.