Of all wedding customs, the bouquet toss is arguably the most controversial. Described on marthastewart.com as the 'suspenseful moment when the single woman gather behind the bride - to see who will be the next to get married' it is scarcely a favourite with feminists.
No one though, has argued it could prompt life-threatening injuries. Until now. Isidoro Pensieri, 44, was yesterday recovering at a hospital in Pisa from serious facial and head injuries and two broken legs, sustained when the ultra-light aircraft in which he was travelling crashed near a restaurant at which a wedding was being held.
Martha Stewart recommends that to 'get the blossom to the wallflowers', the bride should 'stand on a balcony, the top of a staircase or a chair.'
But at this particular wedding in the Tuscan countryside, it was decided to make what proved to be an imprudent break with tradition.
Pensieri was entrusted with the bouquet so that he could cast it dashingly into the outstretched arms of the unmarried female guests as the plane swooped by.
According to Italian news agency reports, however, the flowers disappeared into the tail rotor, causing an explosion in the motor and pitching the ultra-light into a dive. After just missing a hostel in which 50 young people were gathered, the air-craft plunged to earth in a wood.
The pilot, Luciano Nannelli, 61, escaped unhurt from the crash, which happened near the town of Suvereto, near Livorno.
Flying bouquets are a rarity: it is more common for birds to be sucked into the engines of aircraft. In January this year a US Airways flight from New York ditched into the Hudson River after a flock of geese caused engine failure. All on board survived.
.... Source: John Hooper, The Guardian - Thursday 16th July 2009.