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Do I Need to Have a Wedding Garter Toss? (and 7 Alternatives)

So, of course, the answer is: No, you don’t have to have a wedding garter toss at your wedding if you don’t want to. And you don’t need to have a bouquet toss either.

If these traditions feel outdated or awkward for you, simply don’t do them and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not doing them.

You can just leave it at that if you want, or you can go for some alternatives if you feel like it. The point of the garter toss and bouquet toss are to make a winner out of one or two of the single folks in the crowd. So, really, any little competition or game will accomplish the same goal.

Whatever you decide to do, keep it simple and make sure it doesn’t take up a bunch of time or interrupt the flow of the party. Let people carry on chatting or dancing if they want!

Here’s a video I made to answer ALL questions about wedding garters and to provide some alternatives:

Here are some alternatives that you might find interesting:

#1 – Throw something else!

If it’s just the thought of someone going up your dress in front of your family, and then you throwing a piece of your undergarments into a crowd that bothers you, consider throwing something else instead!

Some other less embarrassing items to throw into a crowd of your family and peers, some of which are available on Amazon, might include: a shoe (or two), a hat or veil, a cool rolled up old map, a bag of coffee or tea, a small paperback book of love poems, the ring pillow, a pillow with a lovey-dovey message on it (or your faces!), a candle… anything not too heavy or breakable that could be seen as a “token of love” for whoever catches it.

#2 – Table “Hot Potato”

This was fun and easy at one friend’s wedding I attended. The DJ made an announcement while everyone was sitting at their tables, either right after or right before dinner, that we were going to play a quick game. I think it was right before dessert.

We were told to pass around one of the wedding favors (which were little paper boxes) from person to person at the table while the music was playing. When the music stopped, the person holding the box was the winner and got to take home the centerpiece!

#3 – “Sit down if”

For this game/competition, the DJ (or whoever!) asks everyone to stand up while at their tables. He then starts rounds of “Sit down if…” statements and people sit down if they fall into those particular categories. The statements should be light and funny, and related to the couple if possible. For example: “Sit down if you have known the bride or groom for less than five years…” “Sit down if you have ever crashed a wedding before…” OR you can choose to say “Stay standing if…” instead. For example, “Stay standing if you knew the bride or groom when they were in college.”

It’s basically a game of “Never have I ever” and can be really fun and funny but requires a bit of brainstorming to come up with good, relevant statements to use. The last person standing wins! You can give a prize such as a garter, bouquet, or centerpiece!

#4 – Musical Chairs

Anyone who’s ever attended a children’s birthday party knows how to play musical chairs! It may sound silly, but it’s actually a lot of fun and easy for most people to play. The only problem is logistics, as you’ll need enough space on your dance floor or somewhere in your venue to both place chairs, and take them away… if this isn’t feasible, consider doing a different activity!

To play this, first ask all of your guests to bring their chairs to the dance floor and make one big circle (or many small circles).

Hire some friends beforehand to run the show. Every time the music plays, it’s their job to pull some chairs away. When the music stops, all the guests should try to grab a chair but some will be “out.” In the end, the last one sitting is the winner. Give ’em a prize! And then let everyone dance!

#5 – The Shoe Game

A popular game at weddings and rehearsal dinners! There isn’t a guest winner, but everyone should get a laugh and it’s cute. Basically, this is a little show that the bride and groom put on for their guests to watch.

The bride and groom sit back to back in the center of the dance floor. Each holds in their hands one of their own shoes and one of their partner’s shoes.

The DJ or a friend asks a series of questions. For example, “Who is the best driver in the relationship?” or “Who usually makes the bed?”

And the couple each answers the questions by holding up one of the shoes. For example, if the bride thinks she is the best driver, she would hold up her own shoe. If the groom thinks he’s the best driver, he would hold up his own shoe. They answer at the same time and everyone laughs and that’s that.

Usually about 15 or so questions is enough.

#6 – Four in a Canoe

This game actually has little to do with actual canoes.

Fair warning: This game is awesome but is physically demanding!

This is a fun “summer camp” style game that can get pretty rowdy. Everyone is invited onto the dance floor and volunteers stand in the middle to demonstrate while the DJ or someone on the microphone explains how to play. A demonstration is needed before beginning but then it’s very easy to play

The DJ will play music throughout, just for fun. He or she will yell a number between 1-5. Each time a number is yelled, everyone has to do an action that corresponds with that number (which will be shown in the demonstration). The last person to do that action is OUT. This continues until one person is left. THE WINNER!

If the DJ yells “ONE!” everyone must drop to the floor, laying down!

“TWO” everyone must get into pairs, and one person must pick the other person up, princess-style.

“THREE” everyone must get into groups of three and make a human pyramid (like cheerleaders), two on the bottom, and one on top.

“FOUR” everyone must get into groups of four, sit on the floor one behind the other, and pretend to row a canoe together.

“FIVE” everyone must get into groups of five, sit on the floor, and touch their feet together, forming a giant star.

If you’re out, you’re out!

#7 – Drinking Games!

If you’re the casual sort, why not incorporate some drinking games into your wedding and offer prizes? You may want to avoid games that only allow few people to play, such as beer pong. But if you have your guests sitting at long tables, and you don’t mind a bit of a mess, everyone could play an epic game of flip cup together!

Or you could play a German drinking game, such as who can hold a full pitcher of beer at arm’s length the longest.

Does all of this sound like TERRIBLE advice?? Maybe it is!! Please check out my other articles for more 🙂


Brittany is a writer and teacher in Vancouver, Canada. She started the website Wayfaring Weddings as a way to share her research on affordable, eco-friendly, and less stressful approaches to wedding planning.