The wedding garter tradition dates back to around the 14th century. Guests believed that having a piece of the brides clothing brought good luck. For hundreds of years, brides have worn decorative bridal garters under their wedding dresses. Traditionally the bride wears two garters; one as a keepsake garter and the other as the throw away garter. The tossing aspect of the tradition originated when grooms began tossing his new bride’s stocking out of the bridal chamber as proof of the union without friends or family members needing to enter the bedroom itself. Some couples made a game out of it, attempting to fling the stocking onto a guest’s nose. In other instances, the game was reversed with guests trying to throw the stocking onto the bride or groom’s nose for good luck. The person who caught or grabbed the stocking was thought to be married sometime in the next 12 months.
Historically, the garter represents the virginity or purity of the bride. It was considered a symbol of the virginal girdle, which was worn to prove the bride’s chastity to her new groom. The groom would remove the garter as a symbol that he now had the right to his bride’s virginity. Today, a garter represents one of the most intimate pieces of apparel that a bride can reserve for her groom. It is often the last piece of clothing put on before the wedding. Many brides choose to wear two garters — one for tossing to the crowd and a second for only her husband to see and enjoy removing when the two are alone together.
The groom either discretely or indiscreetly, depending on the personality and preference of the bride, removes a garter, which his new wife wears above her knee on her right or left leg. Some grooms remove the garter with their teeth while the brides reveal their legs to the crowd while others discretely slip their hands beneath the brides’ dresses to remove the garter. Once removed, the groom stands with his back to the crowd while all the single men in attendance are invited to come near to the stage or area where the bride and groom are sitting. The groom tosses the garter behind him into the crowd where men try to grab it. The man who catches the garter is said to be the “lucky” man who will be the next to be married.
Today brides may choose to customize a wedding garter with her and her husband’s initials. Brides often decide to order personalized garters that match their wedding colors and which are coordinated to go along with a special set of lingerie to be worn on the wedding night. Other brides may choose to wear one generic wedding garter as a way to let guests enjoy the tradition while she does not retain a garter for herself. Some brides prefer not to incorporate the wedding garter tradition into their weddings at all. All are acceptable options. The most important thing is for a bride and her groom to decide what is the best fit for their personalities and preferences.
The wedding garter tradition dates back to around the 14th century. Guests believed that having a piece of the brides clothing brought good luck. For hundreds of years, brides have worn decorative bridal garters under their wedding dresses.