Skip to Content

Wedding Garter Tradition Explained

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details..

Wedding traditions are cultural elements that carry significant meaning to the ceremony. Depending on the culture, many traditions can make the wedding more exciting and memorable.

From a simple walk down the aisle to the bouquet toss, you can find different opinions for each tradition, no matter how trivial.

But one tradition in the West is peculiar yet still acceptable. It is the wedding garter toss.

In this article, we will explore the history of the wedding garter, the significance of a garter toss, and what separates it from other wedding traditions.

Two white garters of the bride are lying on the table

Where Did the Garter Toss Tradition Come From?

A tradition doesn’t just appear out of thin air; it has a backstory and origin. As for the garter toss, this tradition can be traced back to the Early Middle Ages.

Like the bouquet toss tradition, the garter toss started when people believed that carrying home any piece of fabric from the newlyweds would bring them luck.

However, removing and tossing the garter protected the bride from a rowdy crowd trying to rip or grab her wedding dress.

Back in the old days, the parents of the married couple were also expecting the marriage to be consummated as soon as possible.

They would patiently wait outside of the room to get some proof. The groom would present the wedding garter as proof of consummation.

During the early 18th century, the bridal garter was accepted as a fashion and one of the essential pieces in a wedding outfit. Most of the time, the brides would wear ribbon garters on their legs that looked more feminine and were easy on the skin.

This was also when the garter toss tradition started to become more interesting.

One game called “Fling The Stocking” happened after the ceremony.

During this game, bachelors and bachelorettes tried to remove the garter from the bride’s leg before throwing it over their shoulders, hoping it would land on the couple.

If the garter landed on the newlyweds, they believed they would obtain good luck for their own marriage.

sexy bride in wedding luxury dress showing her silk garter with golden ribbon

In the 19th century, the tradition evolved into another game called “Race for the Garter.”

During this game, the single groomsmen would have a race. The bride would award the winner with the garter.

It was also during this time that the garter toss tradition changed and started to become more interesting. Apart from the usual throw-and-catch tradition, the man who caught the garter would pin the garter on his hat as a sign of good luck.

What Does the Garter Toss Symbolize Today?

The garter toss can be defined as the men’s version of a bouquet toss. It symbolizes good luck, especially for the bachelor that catches it. In other words, any single man lucky enough to catch the garter will be the one to get married next.

Back in the old days, people also believed that a bridal garter symbolized the consummation of the newlyweds. Hence, this fabric can be seen as proof of their marriage.

But today, the garter toss doesn’t involve any superstitions or ancient beliefs.

Instead, the toss is done by the groom after the bride tosses her bouquet. When both rituals are done, the bachelor who caught the garter will put this accessory on the woman who caught the bouquet.

groom holding silk garter from bride at wedding party. tradition of throwing bridal garter to man

What Is the Point of a Bridal Garter?

Aside from the wedding dress and veil, a bridal garter is one of the important accessories, if not the last piece, that completes the bridal outfit.

A bridal garter is a simple band of fabric worn by the bride to hold up her stockings and keep them from moving down her legs.

Generally, the garter is worn just above the knees. However, this placement is subjective. Depending on the design of the wedding dress, you may adjust and wear it where it will be comfortable and match the outfit.

You should also make sure that the garter is not too tight. Wearing a tight garter that affects blood circulation on your leg can make you uncomfortable, if not cause problems for your leg.

Today, most modern bridal garters are made from an elastic material or soft fabric such as lace and satin.

How Much Does a Wedding Garter Cost?

Like other bridal accessories, the price of a wedding garter varies depending on the material, design, and brand.

A low-tier wedding garter generally costs between $6 and $20 and is made from cheap or low-quality materials.

A middle-tier wedding garter costs between $20 and $35 and is made from better materials that are comfortable on the skin and finished with other decorations such as pearls, crystals, and embroidery.

If you’re looking for an affordable garter, then go for a middle-tier garter.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something premium and don’t mind paying for the highest quality, go for an expensive garter that costs at least $30 and could go as high as $75. Generally, a high-quality bridal garter is tailored to fit the bride’s legs.

All of these prices don’t include any shipping fees.

The best option for any newlyweds is to purchase both the cheapest and the middle-tier garter; use the cheap one for the garter toss and keep the better quality garter for personal use.

lady in robe showing a white garter

How to Toss Wedding Garter the Right Way

If you haven’t done or participated in a garter toss, it might seem overwhelming to think about how this tradition should be done. But fret not; a garter toss isn’t as hard as you might imagine.

Here are some tips that you can use to make sure that nothing awkward happens during this event:

  • Choose the most suitable music. Music can make or break the mood in any situation. Hence, choose music that is fun, energetic, or playful.
  • Call out all the bachelors beforehand. Nothing is more awkward than waiting for all the single men to gather around before doing the toss. This is also the best way to respect everyone’s time and follow the itinerary. Ask the DJ to announce at least five minutes before doing the toss.
  • Remember to wear the tossing garter. The last thing you want to avoid is changing the garter because you’re wearing the one that should be kept for personal use. So, wear the tossing garter beforehand to avoid this issue.
  • Tell the groom on which leg the garter is placed. If you’re the bride, don’t forget to tell your partner which leg you put the garter on. This could prevent him from throwing the wrong garter if you decided to wear a garter on each leg.
  • Rehearse the garter toss a day before the ceremony. Practicing the toss will prevent any awkward moments.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it is not compulsory for the married couple or the groom to do the garter toss.

Depending on the bride, you can skip this tradition and go with the ones that suit the occasion. If you’re marrying a woman from a religious background, throwing her garter might be inappropriate.

However, if you think this tradition is just another way to light up the ceremony and consent is given by the bride, then, by all means, go for it!