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by Abigail Van Buren

Bouquet and Garter Toss: Variations on a Theme

DEAR ABBY: A young married woman said she and her mother were at odds about the tradition of tossing the bouquet and bride's garter at weddings. You said, "Because catching a bouquet or garter is no guarantee the person will be the next to marry (it's 'up for grabs'), I see no reason why any guest should be excluded."

Well, I disagree! I perform disc jockey and video services for weddings. I have seen little girls and boys with bloody noses, skinned knees and elbows, etc. Would you send an 8-year-old to play football at your local college? For liability reasons, I specifically note in my contract that if the bride insists on including guests under 16, I am not liable for injuries. Insurance companies don't like to cover stupidity.

Please rethink this one, Abby! -- BRENT YACIW, WESLEY CHAPEL, FLA.

DEAR BRENT: Your point is well taken. I received a ton of terrific mail on tossing wedding bouquets and garters, and will share as much of it as possible:

DEAR ABBY: The custom is tacky and should be eliminated. It's embarrassing to singles who are dragged onto the floor by well-meaning friends and family. It's almost as bad as watching the new couple smash cake in each other's face. -- J.H., MELROSE, N.Y.

DEAR ABBY: When I married, I had a candy toss for anyone 12 or under. It worked wonderfully. The kids had fun and were part of the festivities. -- JENNIFER IN FREMONT, OHIO

DEAR ABBY: For guests 16 and under, we tossed a teddy bear dressed like a bride, and did the same for the boys with a groom bear. -- BECKY IN HURST, TEXAS

DEAR ABBY: I am a florist. Many brides order a small bouquet to toss to the little girls, and they either toss their own bouquet or an extra (large) one to the big girls. -- RON D., BELLEVILLE, ILL.

DEAR ABBY: The custom is, whoever catches the garter must put it high on the leg of the woman who catches the bouquet. At one wedding I attended, a 9-year-old boy caught the garter and then sat at the feet of the lady who caught the bouquet and sobbed for 10 minutes because he was so humiliated. Children should not be subjected to this. -- KATHY IN FORT LEE, N.J.

DEAR ABBY: As the mother of two little girls, I do not want anyone touching their legs. As a wedding DJ, here's how I handle the garter toss: I have the little girl sit in a chair with her arms out and her hands in a prayer position. I then give the male the garter and he has three chances to toss it over her hands. No one is touched, and it's perfectly innocent. The kids love it. Remember, kids are just adults in training. -- LORI LEE, A DJ IN HORSEHEADS, N.Y.

DEAR ABBY: I have been a caterer for more than 20 years. A classy alternative is this one: The bridal couple asks all married guests to stand. Then, in multiples of five or 10 years, they are asked to sit down when asked the length of their marriage. The couple married the longest is awarded the bouquet and garter to the applause of everyone. -- MIKE F., ANKENY, IOWA

DEAR READERS: I learn so much from you. Thank you for all your suggestions, and for the privilege of doing a job I love. -- XXX, ABBY

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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