Wedding Garter: History, Traditions, Popular Questions

Christine Steuber
Apr 20, 2022
467
The tradition of a wedding garter toss is ancient. But what is the history behind it? Read my guide to learn everything on this topic!

Whether the garter wedding tradition makes you cringe or laugh, it has definitely stood the test of time. Even brides who dislike the concept of garter toss wear it as an attractive accessory.

Is a bridal garter different from regular garters? Does it have to match your wedding dress? Are there different sizes? Is it a must-part of your wedding outfit?

I know that all these questions might be bothering you, so I decided to answer them in this article.

So, if you’re a bride who is not entirely sure what is hiding behind this tradition and interesting fashion detail, I’m about to unleash everything about the bridal garter. 

So carry on reading for more details!

What Is a Wedding Garter?

In simple words, a thigh garter is a piece of lingerie worn around the bride’s leg under the wedding dress. In the old times, garters served a unique purpose. Both genders used to wear garters to hold up their stockings. But in the 21st century, their usefulness got replaced with a fashion statement.

Chalo Garcia wedding garter via Unsplash

The garter toss shares a similarity with the bouquet toss. People believe that whoever catches the garter will be the next one to marry. But in this present age, couples experience this tradition in new and exciting ways. 

If you are considering adding a garter toss to your wedding day, there is a lot to think about. For instance, where exactly on the leg should you wear it and on which leg? 

I’ll answer this question, but first, let’s enjoy a quick history lesson.

History and symbolism of a wedding garter

Like all other traditions, there is a specific purpose behind garters, too. If you’re curious about the reason for a wedding garter, I’ll explain all the details to you in this section.

The Western tradition is centuries old. At the reception, the bride is supposed to sit in a chair, and the groom takes off the garter around her leg. 
The groom can use hands or teeth to remove it and then throw the garter at a crowd of bachelors. Hence, this garter toss is basically a male version of the bouquet toss. All single men take part in catching the garter.

Wedding garter toss
Credit: Pinterest

If you caught the garter, you are believed to be the next in line to be married. People also thought that bridal garters were tokens of good luck in the Middle Ages

However, some sources describe other origins of this tradition. For example, there used to be an 18th-century English game known as “flinging the stocking.” It included tossing garters at the couple. Family and friends tried to land a garter on the newlywed’s head to gain any luck with marriage. It actually had a powerful meaning at that time.
I don’t know about you, but all these wedding traditions made me laugh and surprised me at the same time.

Most Popular Questions Brides Ask about Garters FAQs

Now that we have covered this old accessory’s background and symbolism, it’s time for a fun FAQs session. 

I’ve gathered the most common questions women or soon-to-be brides have in mind and have tried to answer them the best I can. 

So, let’s start!

Is the groom allowed to see the garter before the ceremony?

When this tradition emerged, it was prohibited for the couple to see each other at all. But times have changed, and now the wedding ceremony allows more flexibility

Hardly anyone opposes the groom seeing the garter before the wedding today. It all depends on whether the couple wants to keep it a secret or be open. Both scenarios are completely fine.

What leg does the wedding garter go on?

There is no specific leg on which you should wear a garter. It’s all about your comfort. 

Whatever the case, many brides decide to wear the accessory just above their knee. This way, it’s high enough to be secured but low enough not to chafe against the opposite thigh. 
I also know some brides who didn’t wear garters on any leg. Nevertheless, they still had a garter toss at a wedding. So, they simply stashed it away in their clutch or pocket. This is another convenient suggestion.

Who takes off the garter during the ceremony?

Generally, the partner is the one that removes the garter. However, this is an intimate moment that might make you feel uneasy in front of your loved ones. Remember to make sure that you’re both confident with the act before confirming it for your reception.

There are options in this aspect as well. 

For instance, a bride can remove her garter herself, or she can wrap it around her arm. If she’s not willing to wear it altogether, just wear it for the toss action.

How many garters can a bride wear?

It is totally possible to wear two garters for your special day. In fact, many brides do that. There are garter sets available on the market too. 

All you have to do is decide whether to include the garter tossing act in your reception. If yes, brides can follow the motto of “one to show, one to go.”

Among these two, the main garter usually is more ornate and has a special meaning. 

The second one is basically the throwing garter. It’s comparatively less detailed and smaller. If you’re a bride who couldn’t care less about keeping a garter, one should be sufficient. And if you are planning a short wedding ceremony with no toss occurring, you don’t have to wear it at all!

Who usually buys a bride garter?

Generally, the bride purchases her own garter. However, a garter belt wedding gift can also be a thoughtful choice for a bachelorette or a bridal shower event. If you decide to shop for such a gift, you can be creative. 

Although the mainstream styles include shiny rhinestones, lavish tulle, or delicate lace, and it’s not your style, you can opt for something more down-to-earth.

How much does a wedding garter cost?

The price range of garters usually varies from $10 to $100. Its average cost is between $20 to $35. If your only concern is a toss, don’t waste too much money, and go for a simple and affordable one. 

However, if you wish to save yours as eye-catching lingerie or memorabilia, you can splurge and buy an ornate one.

Top 5 Cute Wedding Garters

I hope I’ve answered all your questions by now and made you feel excited about including this tradition in your wedding. And, to help you choose your perfect garter, I have made a brief list of 5 pieces that will look the most trendy on your leg. Let’s get started.

1) A Navy Blue Garter by BeuBeuDesign

If you think about it, adding a splash of color to your garter wouldn’t hurt anyone, considering how the dress is already all-white. 

Propping this navy beauty on your thigh will be a show-stopping moment at your reception. For the brides who really want to woo the crowd, this is an ideal piece.

A Navy Blue Garter by BeuBeuDesign
Credit: Etsy

The construction of this garter is very delicate, owing to the beautiful lace and a small ribbon. By the way, I recently wrote about gorgeous blue ombre wedding dresses, and I just realized that this garter would fit perfectly with one of them.

2) Laurel Leaf Garter by AnnaMarguerite

If you want to feel like a Greek goddess, this modern piece belongs to your wedding essentials. The leaf vine is made of metal, whereas the strap is sheer organza elastic.

Laurel Leaf Garter by AnnaMarguerite
Credit: Etsy

In my opinion, all bohemian brides should wear this non-traditional piece. It will look gorgeous paired with a leaf headpiece or a tiara.

3) Black Garter Belt with Rose Flower by FlorisLinens

Since garters exude sensuality, the following piece smashes the intention with the sexy red and black color combo. The big red rose and gemstones look divine on the black appliqued lace.

Black Garter Belt with Rose Flower by FlorisLinens
Credit: Etsy

I would personally combine a mega-dramatic wedding dress with this stunning piece. For example, take a look at this fabulous creation:

Feel free to decide on something luxuriously different, and dare to get out of your comfort zone.

4) A Crystallized Garter by OneFancyDay

In case you want to add a bit of luxury to your wedding outfit, crystals should be your go-to choice. This is a fantastic material for a bride’s wedding garter, and if you pair it with delicate stretch lace, you’ll have a flawless piece in your hands.

A Crystallized Garter by OneFancyDay
Credit: Etsy

The crystal jewels are composed of shiny premium-quality rhinestones. Talk about fancy! If you’re throwing a posh wedding and wearing some sumptuous ball gown with a lot of tulles, this is the standard to follow.

5) Rose Gold Wedding Garter by OneFancyDay

Let’s be honest now. Aren’t rose gold and champagne the favorite colors of almost every woman? Featuring both of these timeless shades, this extraordinary piece exceeds all expectations.

Rose Gold Wedding Garter by OneFancyDay
Credit: Etsy

The attractive rose gold crystals with encrusted floral details are settled on a stretchy band showcasing in color. In my opinion, this stunner will go perfectly with some floral or bow wedding dress.

It’s made of elasticized satin and sheer ribbon edging. Oh, and it’s non-slip as well.

How to DIY a Wedding Garter?

If you or someone in your circle is about to tie the knot, it’s a great idea to make a wedding garter. The perk of sewing the band yourself is that you can customize it with the theme and shades chosen for the wedding. 

A homemade garter is also a sweet wedding shower gift. Not only this, it’s quite easy to make. You might be tempted to make two – one as a keepsake and one for tossing. You need just one hour, and supplies cost about $10. Below are all the tools or equipment you may need:

  • A sewing machine
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape

Okay, the first part of the task is done. Now you have to get all the necessary materials:

  • Matching thread
  • 13-inch ½ inch elastic
  • 26 inches flat 2 to 2 ½ inch lace with a decorative or scalloped edge
  • ¼ inch embellishments and ribbon for the sake of decoration.
  • 52 inch 1-inch grosgrain or white satin ribbon
  • 26-inch ¼ to ½ inch flat lace with one embellished edge for the upper edge of the garter

If you want zircons, sequins, or maybe something else, feel free to add it to our list. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You just can’t go wrong with this!

Instructions

Now you’re ready to start. Make sure that you have enough working space and all tools and materials on hand.  Let’s go step by step.

Step #1: Attach the lace

Cut the 52-inch piece of ribbon in the middle. Align the ends of bigger lace and one ribbon piece. The lace should overlap the ribbon by ⅛ inch to 1/16 inch.

Sew the lace to the ribbon. Maintain a fair distance from the edge but not too far as well. Repeat the step to attach the narrow side of the lace to the upper edge of the ribbon.

Step #2: Attach the other ribbon

Align the second piece of ribbon exactly over the first piece. Topstitch the ribbon to attach it with the first ribbon piece, sewing as close to the edges as possible. Remember not to sew the ends yet.

Step #3: Add elastic to the accessory

Employ a safety pin and then thread the elastic between the ribbon pieces. Align one end of the elastic with another end of the ribbon. 

Stitch the elastic to the ribbon end. Keep pulling the elastic through, and align the other end with the opposite ribbon end. Stitch the elastic to the opposite side.

Step #4: Add a French seam

A French seam is ideal for stitching the ends of the garter together. First, place the opposite sides of the garter together and align the edges. Sew a seam maintaining a ¼ inch allowance. Trim this allowance afterwards.

Sew another seam through a ¼-inch allowance, which will enfold the raw edges.

Step #5: Decorate the garter

Decorate your garter according to your preferences. If you want ribbon embellishment, cut three 6-inch pieces of ¼-inch thick ribbon. Keeping one ribbon side upward, loop the ribbon and lay it on top of itself. Do the same for all three pieces, pinning the overlap in place.

Afterward, lay down all the sections on top of each other and fan the loops. Sew the loops in place by hand. You can sew any decoration, like a bead or a button, on top of the loop intersection.

Some other ideas for embellishment are:

  • Add an applique on the garter.
  • Utilize a solid fabric rather than a ruffled lace. Embroider the wedding date and the couple’s initials on the accessory before assembling the garter.
  • Sew a colorful ribbon or a bow.

That’s it! Isn’t it easy to sew a customized garter? A little bit of effort, and a unique leg garter is ready to go.

Over to You

To all the betrothed, have you already decided whether you will wear a garter or not? Garters for brides are charming accessories that can boost your appeal on your special day. 

Although old wedding traditions may not align with the modern brides, you can choose not to do the tossing and just wear it for yourself! 

If you want to get more interesting information about weddings and outfit ideas, my previous blog articles might help you. Make sure to check them out!

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