It’s believed that the tradition of tossing the garter dates back to fourteenth-century France. Medieval French revelers considered pieces of the bride’s attire lucky, and guests would literally
rip off pieces of her gown. To defend herself, she began to throw them her garter! In
modern times, her bashful groom does it for her to fend off those hordes of luck-hungry reception guests. Legend holds that the lucky bachelor who gets the garter will be next to getting
Wedding garters have a possible historical significance, but today the primary significance of the garter tradition is a playful one. The garter has also been seen as a symbol of the bride’s virginity. The removal of the garter then symbolizes the loss of the bride’s virginity. When the garter is tossed to the unmarried men attending the wedding, the man who catches the garter will typically put it on his sleeve and, tradition holds, will be the next to marry. The garter toss is a parallel tradition to the bridal bouquet toss. Historically, it was said that a man who gave his sweetheart another bride’s garter could guarantee her faithfulness. Now it’s thrown to single men for good luck, and legend holds that the lucky bachelor who gets the garter will be next to get hitched.
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. You can purchase expensive garters for your wedding and wear one on each leg or purchase one heirloom garter to keep and one less expensive garter for the garter toss. If you take this option, wear your toss garter on the left leg and your heirloom garter on the right. Many brides choose a yellow garter for luck or a blue garter to take the place of the “something blue” in the traditional wedding rhyme.
The garter and bouquet tosses generally take place near the end of the reception, either before the cake is cut or just before the couple makes their getaway. The garter is often thrown after the bouquet is tossed, but tradition dictates that the garter toss should come first.
Many brides make an unfortunate error with their garters. If you plan to toss, your garter should be placed directly above the knee, not high on the thigh. Plan to sit in a chair for the garter removal and remind the groom to be careful not to expose too much while removing the garter. If two garters will be worn, be sure that the right garter is tossed.