Planning a wedding can be a crazy experience, plunging you into the world of weddings without much of a guide. Suddenly you’re surrounded by new terminology that you’ve never heard before – Chiavari chairs, bombonieres, pomanders. And then there’s the things you’ve heard of but never fully understood – for example, what is a wedding garter?
You’ve probably been to a wedding, and suddenly, in the middle of the reception, the dance floor clears and the groom starts pulling some Magic Mike moves. For some reason, he’s pulling a little band of fabric off of his new wife’s leg with his teeth, and you’re left wondering – um, what? Why is he throwing it at all the single men? And why are none of them trying to catch it?
Well thankfully, we’re here to clear up the mystery behind wedding gartersI We’ll explain the history, the purpose, the garter toss tradition, and how garters have become modernized in weddings of late. Keep in mind, while the history of garters is pretty weird, every detail at your wedding is up to you! You can include a garter if you want, or you can forgo it if you want; in the end, it’s up to you and your groom.
The History Behind Wedding Garters
So what is the deal with these little bands around brides’ legs? Well, let’s start with a history lesson. Back in the Middle Ages, there was a superstition that if you could get your hands on a piece of the bride’s clothing, it would be good luck. While at first this was all talk, it unfortunately transformed into a tradition of wedding guests literally attacking the bride and ripping her garment apart for a good luck charm. Engaged couples everywhere searched for an alternative that would prevent the bride from being bombarded on what was supposed to be their special day.
The solution was found in the garter. Garters were used back in the day to hold up socks and stockings, by both men and women. Eventually, someone somewhere had the great idea that instead of allowing her friends and family to rip the bride’s outfit apart, the groom could just throw a piece of her clothing at the crowd to appease them. The garter served this purpose – the bride wouldn’t mind losing it, and it was an easy item to throw.
As time went on, women’s empowerment became a thing (hallelujah!), and no longer were weddings seen as an exchange of property from one man to another. There was no real need to protect the bride from attack on her wedding day, but the garter toss remained as tradition.
The Modern Garter Toss
Nowadays, the garter toss tradition has transformed into more of a fun game for everyone to watch. The DJ or emcee will gather all the single, unmarried men in the room onto the dance floor. The groom will then do some sort of sexy dance to a sexy song, remove the garter with his hands or with his teeth (a trend as of late), and toss it at all the single men. Whoever catches it, it’s said, will be the next to marry. Traditionally, the man that catches the garter will then place it on the leg of the woman that catches the bouquet.
While it has previously been the norm to see this practice at weddings, as of 2019, it has definitely become less common. Either there will only be a bouquet toss, or they’ll forgo both traditions altogether, mostly due to the gimmick vibe. Also, not every bride is comfortable having everyone she knows watch her new husband duck under her skirt and fish around for a piece of fabric.
But that doesn’t mean that garters have gone the way of the Dodo! Rather than tossing it, brides are moving more towards keeping the garters as a keepsake of their wedding day. More and more personalized garters of different colors, patterns, styles, and themes have been produced over the years, and why would you want something so special to you to be tossed away?
There’s another option, if you want to keep the garter and do a toss – just get two! A lot of garter companies will send you two garters: one fancy garter to keep, and one simple garter to toss. Just make sure when you wear them, you wear the one to toss below the one you’re going to keep. Speaking of which, you can wear your garter on whichever leg you choose, but make sure your groom knows which leg it’s on so the fun game doesn’t turn into a 10-minute garter search.
The Different Styles of Garter
So what style of garter should you order? That partially depends on the look you’re going for, but it also depends on if anyone else will see it! The garter is unique in that if you choose, you can be the only one to see it on your wedding day (and perhaps the groom if he’s lucky). So it’s completely up to you!
If you are looking for a traditional garter, you’re looking for something simple and white. The classic colors would be white and ivory, but lately it has become pretty trendy to include “something blue” in the garter.
If you’re looking for a sexy surprise for your groom, look for something lacy and delicate. You can stick with the white, ivory, and blue, or you could diverge from the norm and get something in red, black, or other dark hues.
If you’re looking for a fun surprise, take a look around at personalized & specialty garters! Nowadays, you can find a polka dot garter, a Batman themed garter, or even a “Police Line – Do Not Cross” garter.
Just remember, it’s your day, and you can be as traditional or nontraditional as you want! Weddings are all about the details, and the garter is one of the few details that very few people will get to see. Let it reflect your personality, and be as personalized as you’d like.