Should You Do a Garter Toss?

Wondering if you should do a garter toss at your wedding? Learn about the pros and cons with this complete guide.

By Maggie Mahoney

Should You Do a Garter Toss
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

Weddings come along with a wealth of traditions, from the first dance to the old adage “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” But which traditions you wish to partake in and which you prefer to skip is ultimately up to you and your partner. And one of the more controversial customs tends to be the garter toss. If you’re debating whether or not to incorporate this ritual into your wedding reception, no need to fret, we’re here to help. Below are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to incorporate a garter toss into your wedding reception.

What Is a Bridal Garter?

Simply put, a garter is a flexible band (often made of lace) that’s worn around the leg. Garters were originally used to hold up stockings, but today garters are less functional and more fashionable. Think of them as a traditional form of bridal lingerie.

Should You Do a Garter Toss? Photo Credit // Idena Beach Photography

How Much Do Garters Cost—and Where Can You Purchase Them?

Depending on the material and quality of the wedding garter, the price can vary widely. You can find bridal garter options as cheap as $10 and as expensive as more than $100. If you’re planning to wear a wedding garter for the toss and then dispose of it, an inexpensive option is the way to go. However, if you plan to save your garter as a keepsake from your special day, you may want to invest in a slightly pricier version.

Garters can be found in a plethora of places. Local bridal shops are bound to have options for purchase. However, retailers like Etsy or David’s Bridal also carry garters. You can even go for a custom garter created by a seamstress or florist (floral garter).

Garter Toss History

The garter toss is one of the oldest Western wedding traditions. It’s thought to have originated from England’s “flinging the stocking” tradition that came about in the 1400s. At that time, the garter was a form of proof that a couple had consummated their marriage on their wedding night. However, the birth of the wedding garter tradition we have today was said to have taken root in 1500s France. Back then, snagging a piece of the bride’s clothing off of her body was considered good luck.

Over time, the ritual has evolved to consist of the groom removing the garter from the seated brides’ leg, often during a sensual or slow song, in front of their wedding guests at the wedding reception. The garter is then tossed into a crowd of single men on the dance floor (almost like the male equivalent of the bouquet toss). The winners of the bouquet and garter toss are said to be the next to find love, or more specifically, get married.

Some couples choose to remove the garter with hands, while others use their teeth. And still some others may decide to forgo the custom. It’s all up to personal preference and comfort levels.

Pros and Cons

In order to best decide if the garter toss ritual is right for you and your SO, consider the following:

Benefits

  • A nod to a time-honored tradition that many generations of people have participated in
  • Can provide great photo opportunities
  • An intimate moment between you and your SO
  • Can help break up your wedding reception and engage your guests
  • Relatively quick and lighthearted activity

Drawbacks

  • Can be uncomfortable for guests (especially children) to witness due to it’s intimate nature
  • May not meet every couple’s modesty standards
  • Can be considered gender normative, antiquated, or even sexist
  • Has the potential to become overly boisterous
  • The toss may cause damage to the garment

Still can’t quite decide what’s right for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are there any modifications you’d like to make to the garter toss that would enhance you and your SO’s comfort?
  • Does the garter toss fit well into your reception timeline and environment?
  • How do you feel your guests would respond to the garter toss tradition? Will it make people uncomfortable?
Should You Do a Garter Toss?Photo Credit // Eli Turner Studios

Alternatives to the Garter Toss

If you want to add your own creative twist or simply modify the tradition to enhance your personal comfort level, look no further. Here are a few viable modifications and alternatives to the customary approach:

  • Skip the removal of the garter and just have the toss (remove in private prior to the reception)
  • Wear the garter on another part of your body, like a hand or arm, to make the tradition a bit more PG
  • Simply make the bouquet toss a co-ed affair, so there’s no need for a garter toss
  • Use another item or prize as a stand-in for the garter and toss that out to your guests
  • Skip the garter removal and toss altogether

Whether you choose to incorporate the garter toss into your special day or forgo it altogether, the choice is entirely yours. Every couple has a different vision for their wedding day and though some find comfort in tradition, others may consider it oppressive or simply prefer to forge their own path. With the information above, you will have all the tools you need to decide if a garter toss is the right fit for you and your partner.

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