Today, the tradition of the wedding garter is tame in comparison to France of the 14th century. Throwing garters is considered to be the oldest surviving wedding tradition. Numerous wedding garter traditions have been obtained over the years that still seem to become rules of etiquette today. Back in Dark Ages it was customary for friends, relatives and guests to accompany the bridal couple to the marriage bed. Deemed a lucky token, this classical wedding accessory made of silk and lace is still coveted by groomsmen and single men attending wedding receptions.
During the nineteenth century, as brides and grooms became uncomfortable with visitors in their chambers, the tradition evolved to that of the bride tossing her garter to the groomsmen before the end of the reception. However, the men would often become violent competing for the garter and would sometimes tear at the bride’s dress or even flip her upside down to take the garter off before she had a chance. To many American brides, their wedding ensemble just would not be complete without the addition of a fancy garter worn under the bridal gown.
Most brides today choose to have two garters. One is for tossing and the other is for the wedding night, as well as to keep as part of her bridal trousseau. Both garters are worn on the right leg just above the knee. In Northern England the old custom was for male guests to rush the bride at the altar when the ceremony was finished and remove her garter from her leg. In the panic this usually meant the bride was knocked over and trampled on. The removal of the garter then symbolizes the loss of the bride’s virginity.
Greed took over the tradition and it was common for guests to stampede toward the bride at the alter to get the garter. Throwing the garter to the mob saved the bride from being trampled. The guest who received the garter would then wear it on his hat until he gave it to a woman for luck.
Today, the garter toss ritual has evolved once again. Even though the wedding garter toss ritual has changed somewhat over time, for some couples the tradition of wearing and tossing the garter is still one of the most anticipated events at a wedding. Before the removal of the garter, the bride first throws her bouquet to the single women.
The groom removes the throw away garter from the brides leg, sometimes he removes it with his teeth, but more appropriately nowadays he uses his hands. The groom tosses the garter over his shoulder to the waiting unmarried men. The man who catches it takes the garter and slides it up the leg of the woman who caught the bride’s bouquet. It is said that the recipients of the garter and bouquet will be the next to marry (not necessarily to each other).
There are many beautiful wedding garters on the market. If you are opting for new wedding lingerie, your lingerie manufacturer may even offer matching garters. Select a traditional blue garter, one with charms, ribbons or lace. The stretch cloth garters are also available with custom embroidery for the bride’s initials.