Wedding traditions are kind of like sex positions. While you’re taking part in them, they seem like the most natural thing in the world. But if you take a step back and think about it, they’re just plain bizarre. Placing a ring on the finger of your left hand, for instance, is a ritual dating back to the Egyptians, who believed that particular digit housed a direct vein to your heart. Somehow, that became tradition and here we are, obsessing over little bands of metal and which is the right one.
Then there are the tosses. Supposedly, the bouquet throw started centuries ago as a means to distract other women from tearing pieces from the bride’s dress because they thought it would bring them good luck.
Garter tossing has the same semi-to-full-on creepy history. Game of Thrones wasn’t entirely fictitious in its depiction of horrible wedding rituals, particularly the bedding ceremony, in which guests take the bride and groom into their bedroom and hang around until they’ve consumated the marriage.
Thankfully, this medieval ritual has evolved into our current practice of having the bride and groom throwing flower and garments to their single friends who want to get married next: the wedding equivalent of a baseball fan catching a home run at the expense of anyone next to them. Sometimes it’s a pre-planned dance routine, sometimes it’s full-contact competition, sometimes it’s an excuse to experiment with the laws of physics.
One thing you’ll notice in all of the above examples is the importance of music. After all, you’re going to be sticking your head under your bride’s dress in front of a couple hundred people. The right song is crucial to making this thing work.
So with that in mind, we’ve created this list of songs that range from sentimental to rowdy, oldies to hip-hop, for this point at your reception. After all, you can’t just go throwings things around to your unhitched friends and family without some good tunes.
Beyonce, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”
Without doubt, the current champion of bouquet toss songs, both because everybody loves it and because it’s so appropriate to the ritual in question. The only downside here is that it’s little overplayed. That, and the possibility that it might put some pressure on any of your buddies who came there with long-time girlfriends.
The Supremes, “You Can’t Hurry Love”
On top of being a flawless soul tune, Diana Ross and co.’s 1966 hit has added value as a comedy bit. First, the bride can make the single women wait as long as she wants before throwing her flowers, and secondly, it’s a meta reminder to the gaggle that they’re eagerly competing to get married next.
Blondie, “One Way or Another”
We’re throwing this one in here kind of as a joke, considering it’s about Debbie Harry being stalked by an ex-boyfriend (true story). On the other hand: that riff. If you want to be ironic and some of the brides’ friends are kinda…eccentric, well, go forth and hope things work out for everyone.
Cyndi Lauper, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”
The ones elbowing each other in the face probably don’t, but most ladies are looking for a bit of revelry. If you have an open bar, you just might want to keep an eye on that one friend who’s been downing pinot grigios for a few hours, because she’s the one who will straight-up clothes line your sister.
Aretha Franklin, “Respect”
What do the ladies in the scrum want? The bride has got it in her hands, and you better give her the R-E-S-P-E-C-T when she heaves those flowers over her head. The added fact that Otis Redding wrote it and, as he said at Monterey in ‘67 before performing his version, it’s a song that “a girl took away from me, good friend of mine,” acknowledging that she made it all the better.
Bobby Lewis, “Tossin’ and Turnin’”
Lewis’ ‘61 chart-topper hits the nail squarely on the head–both in its rollicking good-time feel, and its title, which pretty accurately reflects what a lot of grooms feel before the wedding.
ZZ Top – Legs
Another nail-on-the-head choice. The Texan rock trio’s 1983 slammer fits the garter toss perfectly: there are legs involved, and it’s a in this ritual and it’s complimentary to your lady. Much air-guitaring will ensue, which is a staple of any good wedding.
Outkast, “Hey Ya”
Though famously ambivalent about the possibility of long-lasting love, Andre 3000’s finest is a great song for a garter toss. 1) “Don’t try to fight the feeling” is something you can tell your bride if she’s uncomfortable with you running your hands up her leg in front of all your loved ones; 2) “hey ya!” is definitely something you might say if you poke your head under her skirt; 3) the “Polaroid picture” section is the perfect excuse for all the bridesmaids to invade the dance floor and shake it.
Johnny Cash, “Ring of Fire”
The Mexacil-tinged track is one of the greatest love songs, and has just the right amount of nostalgia and naughtiness to make it appropriate for what you’re about to do. Bound by a wild desire, you’re about to take that circle of cotton or satin or whatever off your super hot wife’s super hot leg.
Thin Lizzy, “The Boys Are Back In Town”
One more pumper-upper, the Irish band’s’ ‘76 hit is one of the most reliable to get your pals fired up. Just hope they don’t take “The drink will flow and the blood will spill/And if the boys want to fight, you better let ’em” literally. Etiquette says to save that for the afterparty.
Van Halen, “Dance the Night Away”
If you want to get more performative as you approach the bride, follow Eddie’s riff and then David Lee Roth’s lyrics:
“Have you seen her?/ So fine and pretty/ Fooled me with her style and ease/ And I feel her from across the room/ Yes, it’s love in the third degree.”
So saunter over, give into the steaminess of the moment, throw the damn garter and “watch that lady go.”
Fania All Stars, “Red Garter Strut”
Can you get this part of the ceremony done in under two minutes? (Hopefully you last longer a bit later.) If so, this instrumental by some world-renowned Latino musicians who formed a supergroup in the ‘60s is a perfect choice.
The Undertones, “I Know a Girl”
Despite its loudness and repetitiveness (they repeat the title over a dozen times throughout), this vintage punk track is actually a pretty tender track about just shyly falling in love with someone you pass on the street. It’s another wife-pleaser/mosh-starter.
Kenny Loggins, “Danger Zone”
If you don’t get it, you probably shouldn’t be getting married. This is a cheese-ball pick, but it’s a cheese-ball pick with legs.
Jimi Hendrix, “Foxy Lady”
Same as the above, with less Top Gun and more Wayne’s World. Game on, hopefully without a Stacy Alert, and no gun rack (unless that’s your thing).
Follow The Plunge on Spotify to set the soundtrack to every stage of your wedding, from the bachelor party to the bouquet toss.