The garter toss, where a groom takes off a bride’s garter and throws it to a jostling pack of single male guests, has been a part of weddings since the Dark Ages. In recent years, the tradition has been skipped by many couples. That being said, even brides who don’t choose to include the tradition in their wedding may buy a garter to wear as a sexy accessory on their wedding night. Here’s all of your need-to-knows concerning that garter toss and garters themselves (as well as some of our favorite bridal garter sets).
Of all bridal accessories, the garter is perhaps the one with the most mystique. However, their history in regards to weddings is less risqué than you might assume. First thing’s first: A wedding garter is a piece of lingerie. They consists of a narrow band of fabric that is secured around the leg and were originally worn to hold stockings up and keep them from slipping. As a response to shorter hemlines, garter belts were worn around the waist in order to serve the same function while remaining discrete. Since the creation of elastic and pantyhose in the sixties, garters have become less used, as they’re far less needed.
So why do we still toss garters at weddings? Well, said to be one of the oldest wedding traditions, it dates all the way back to the Dark Ages. At that time, it was custom for wedding guests to follow the newlywed couple back to their bedroom after their wedding festivities. On the way, they’d tear at the couple’s clothing as a kind of (bawdy) encouragement. This action was aided by the fact that ripping off a piece of the bride’s wedding dress was said to give you good fortune. To deter guests, brides began tossing their garters (and bridal bouquets) as a means to distract and placate their guests while the newlyweds made their escape.
Though garters aren’t required to secure stockings anymore, many contemporary weddings still involve the garter toss in their reception. It’s comedic, it’s competitive, and it’s amusing for all involved (even spectators). It may not be everyone’s thing, but there are many couples out there who are keeping the tradition alive.
In modern times, there’s no specific tradition around who purchases or gifts the bride their wedding garter. However, there are a handful of people that tend to do so leading up to the wedding day. Oftentimes, a Maid of Honor, bridesmaid, or other member of the bridal party will gift the bride a garter or garter set and present it to them at their bachelorette party or wedding shower. Many bridesmaids and bridal parties also come together as a group to purchase an especially nice one (sometimes accompanied by other lingerie pieces). This can be tons of fun, as well as add sentimentality to the accessory.
On the other hand, your spouse-to-be can purchase the wedding garter. This is especially exciting when given as a gift on the morning of your wedding. All of this being said, it’s also perfectly fine to shop around for and buy your own. After all, you know your taste best.
Though bridal garters for the most part go unseen, there are a few styles and colors that have cemented themselves as staples and classics. It’s common for a bride to have a blue wedding garter, as it fulfills the “something blue” custom and won’t clash with any color scheme, since it’ll be under your dress. That being said, you can find garters in just about any color, with white being the most traditional. Those made of white lace fabric tend to be popular, alongside those with satin bows.
Typically, bridal garters range in price from $15 to more than $100 for more elaborate styles, but they usually fall into the $20 to $35 range. They are often made of lace or satin with some sort of stretchy or elastic material, and they can feature ruching, bows, appliqués, embroidery, beading, ribbon, feathers, and other accouterments. From soft blue satin to rhinestone garters, there’s a style for everyone—traditional or not.
Back when garters were worn to hold up stockings, one was worn on each leg as needed. With that in mind, the wedding garter can be secured around either leg, though it’s typically positioned above the knee or attached to a garter belt. When positioned in this spot, it shouldn’t fall down and is not likely to rub your other leg when you’re walking or dancing.
It’s in a bride’s best interest to try on the garter before the wedding (ideally some weeks before, to allow time to order another if needed) to address any fit issues. On the day of, many brides will slip their garter on themselves, though it’s also not uncommon to have a friend help.
You don’t necessarily need to put your own bridal garter on at the start of your wedding day. There’s a chance it may affect the line of your dress or how the skirt of it lays. Your particular garter might also make it difficult to sit, walk, and move around. With this in mind, feel free to slip it on whenever is most convenient for you. This could be early on in the day or just before the garter toss takes place. You can even keep it with your wedding night bridal lingerie, saved for after the celebration. You don’t even have to wear it at all. Rather, you can purchase one to keep as a fun and special memento from your wedding.
Before tossing the tradition completely (excuse the pun), make yourself aware of the many customizations ad alternatives. If it’s the garter aspect that unsettles you, there’s an idea for that. If it’s the thought of not being able to keep a beautiful piece of lingerie, there’s an idea for that. Whether you’re on the fence about it or are looking for a fun replacement, give some thought to the following alternatives.
Purchase a separate garter for tossing. If you plan on keeping your garter post-wedding—or even just for your wedding night—consider buying an extra one that you can still toss at your reception. That way, if you also want to include the exciting competition, you still can. This is ideal for brides who’d like to purchase and wear a wedding garter that’s on the pricier side. You won’t have to part with your pretty lingerie keepsake and the crowd won’t have to go without the amusing tradition.
Skip the public removal, keep the toss. You can still have a garter toss, even if the idea of your spouse fishing around for it under your dress doesn’t appeal to you or your guests. Before the garter toss is set to take place, simply take a trip to the bathroom to remove your garter. Then, walk back out to your reception, hand it to your partner, and head onto the dance floor for all of the competitive fun. You can also choose not to wear the garter at all, but have it waiting in your purse/clutch/bag or back in the bridal suite.
Replace the garter with another accessory of the bride or groom’s. Who says you have to toss a garter specifically? The tradition, while a good time, can lead into “conquering” territory if performed a certain way. (In fact, in the past, grooms have tossed the garter to their groomsmen as proof of consummation.) If making the activity entirely modern is right up your alley, swap the garter for an accessory or piece of clothing that’s more comfortable. We particularly love the idea of removing the groom’s tie or bowtie and tossing it to a coed crowd (more on that below), but you can also use a boutonniere, gift card, cash, or a stuffed animal for the kids.
Make your bouquet toss coed. You can skip the garter toss without missing out on all the fun of seeing your loved ones get competitive. Rather than keep a toss of any kind limited to women or men, invite all of the single guests at your reception to participate in the bouquet toss. To make it even more special, have your spouse assist in tossing it—or, you can purchase a toss bouquet from your florist for them to use.
Skip it completely. Recommendations and alternatives aside, you can simply skip the garter toss altogether. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to perform a toss of any kind at some point in your wedding reception. Your wedding is a reflection of who you and your spouse are and of your relationship with one-another. If the tradition of a toss doesn’t match up with that, perhaps it doesn’t belong in your celebration. You’re more than welcome to pick and choose which customs and traditions you include in your big day. That being said, you can still wear a garter. When and why it’s removed, however, is entirely your choice.
Whether or not you choose to include the toss in your wedding day, you may still be in the market for a beautiful garter. With this in mind, we’ve sought out an array of bridal garters, garter belts, and sets to browse through. We’ve included garters at a variety of price points and styles for easy, stress-free shopping. To check them out, keep scrolling.
Perhaps you’re all in on the idea of a garter—and a belt, and some stockings for good measure. If it’s high quality, luxurious wedding lingerie that you seek, look no further than these matching items. They’re all white, for good measure, making them perfect for a bride.
Your dress may be white, but no one said your lingerie has to be. From the velvet, to the floral appliques, to the pink lavender color, this garter belt is gorgeous on all fronts.
Say you love the classics, but want to kick things up a notch. This white lace garter possesses every traditional element, with a few modern touches. It’s high waisted design makes it sexy, while pin dot mesh and picot-trim also keeps it sweet.
It isn’t every day—let alone every occasion—that you get to wear a garter belt (unless that’s your thing). This piece inspires true romance, top to bottom. While the true star is the richly colored floral embroidery, the delicate white tulle trim is a close runner-up.
If anything caught our eyes while watching this hit show (besides the Duke of Hastings), it was the wonderful wardrobe. Daphne’s, in particular, was especially eye-catching, packed with beautiful blues. The soft shades and picot-trim of this garter belt is a delightful reminder, with embroidered peonies that’ll make anybody swoon.
Ivory lace and the perfect amount of rhinestones make this traditionally white garter an easy choice. What’s more, it’s a set—meaning you can toss the
Even the garter meant for tossing in this set is especially eye-catching, both featuring light blue lace and a deco crystal design.
Something sold, something new, something sexy, something blue. This set, complete with a smaller garter specifically for tossing, ticks not one, but two boxes when it comes to the traditional rhyme.
If you’re going to throw something into a crowd of rowdy friends, you may as well make the most of it. This garter is all tulle and romance... until you get to the huge flask attached to it. Everyone will be trying to catch this hilarious garter.
Speaking of humor, this garter set’s is a bit more subtle. Use it to pre-emptively congratulate whoever successfully catches the toss garter at your reception. It’s sure to get a few laughs in return.
Gold leaf and an abundance of pearls are secured around your leg by white ribbon with this truly beautiful garter. It’s design—called a garter vine—is similar to that of hair vines, which have risen in popularity the last few years as an alternative to veils.
When it comes to this bridal garter set, the sparkle doesn’t stop. Plenty of rhinestones are either attached to or lay atop ivory lace, making for two stunning pieces. What’s more, you can select the size that’s perfect for you.
It seems that corsets haven’t only inspired the construction of wedding dresses, but wedding garters. This set features one larger garter that features a corset ace closure, while the smaller garter possesses a single standout rhinestone. Both are available in a soft blues, pinks, white, and more.
This garter is aptly named after Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, and it’s clear to see why. Unlike many adorned garters that feature rhinestones, this one instead has pearls, which have been gaining immense popularity when it comes to all things wedding.
Delightfully delicate tulle creates a stunning base for this garter, while a selection of pearls and rhinestones take center stage. This garter is especially modern and will satisfy the hearts of any romantics or fans of balletcore.
It bears repeating: Having a garter toss take place at your wedding isn’t mandatory. It isn’t required that the bride even wear a garter to begin with. That being said, many brides and couples enjoy the spectacle—or the simple act of purchasing a pretty piece of lingerie to wear under their dress throughout their special day. In any case, do what excites and feels right for you, be it a big and competitive toss, a hush-hush sexy secret between you and your partner, or nothing to do with it at all. Catering each aspect of your wedding day to you is where all of the fun and love comes in, after all.