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Best Guide to Embracing the Wedding Garter Tradition and Perfecting the Toss

Best Guide to Embracing the Wedding Garter Tradition and Perfecting the Toss

Are you exploring charming wedding traditions to delight your guests? One familiar choice is the garter toss—an exhilarating moment typically occurring towards the end of the reception, where eligible bachelors gather to catch a piece of the bride's lingerie. If you're contemplating whether the wedding garter tradition suits your preferences, continue reading to discover its origins, variations, and potential alternatives!

Wedding Dress

What is a Wedding Garter?

A bridal garter, traditionally worn beneath the wedding gown, is a lingerie accessory with the historical purpose of keeping stockings in place. In contemporary times, it has evolved into a decorative novelty item primarily used for the customary "garter toss" at weddings.

Today's wedding garters are commonly crafted from lace and adorned with embellishments, secured by elastic. They create a sensual and alluring effect around the mid-thigh area, often employed in bridal boudoir photography. Additionally, these garters are frequently passed down from generation to generation.

Do All Brides Wear a Garter?

While many brides opt for a wedding garter, not all do. For most, the choice to embrace this tradition stems from its sentimental significance in their celebration, its role as a stylish accessory in wedding photos, its potential as a cherished heirloom for generations to come, or its allure as a sensual addition to the wedding night. On the contrary, some brides decide to forgo this tradition.

Several factors contribute to a bride's decision to skip the wedding garter. Some prefer to leave the garter toss tradition out of their reception, while others feel uneasy about wearing one, disliking the aesthetic or style. Frequently, reasons for eschewing the garter toss are linked to its gendered historical context, with some brides deeming it somewhat outdated for their modern celebration.

Wedding Dress

Who Buys the Wedding Garter?

The wedding garter is accessible to anyone, as no specific individual is designated to purchase it. It can be chosen by the bride to complement her wedding attire, bought as a gift by the future spouse, crafted by bridesmaids as a personalized design, or passed down as an heirloom from the mother or grandmother. Alternatively, a custom garter can be created using the fabric from a family wedding dress.

How Much Do Wedding Garters Cost?

The cost of a single wedding garter varies widely, ranging from $10 to $150, depending on the brand name, materials used, embellishments, and design intricacy. On average, a romantic lace, silk, or chiffon garter that complements your wedding dress falls within the $20 to $40 price range. For those with sewing skills, creating a custom garter or repurposing a family heirloom can be a cost-effective option, requiring only the expense of materials.

Some brides opt for two wedding garters—one to keep and another for the toss tradition. If this is your preference, it's advisable to allocate an additional budget for the second garter.

Wedding Dress

What Leg Does the Garter Go On?

It's a matter of personal choice; no specific leg is right or wrong for wearing your garter. Generally, garters are positioned around the mid-thigh to ensure they stay in place. If you choose to wear two garters, they are typically placed on the same leg. Whichever option you choose, inform your partner in advance about the chosen leg and which one to toss!

Do You Have to Wear the Garter All Day?

It's entirely your choice! Particular brides don their wedding garter throughout the day as customary, while others wear it and take it off for various celebration segments. The ideal moments to wear the garter are during your pre-ceremony "getting ready" or "bridal boudoir" photoshoot and later during the reception if you plan to include a garter toss. Between these occasions, some brides stow the garter in their bag or pocket to ensure its safekeeping.

Wedding Dress

What Is the Wedding Garter Tradition?

The wedding garter tradition, with roots dating back centuries, has evolved. Initially, the notion was that possessing a fragment of the bride's attire brought good fortune to wedding attendees. In response, newlyweds would present a small token, the garter, to their guests.

The tradition's origin can be traced to the Middle Ages when newlywed couples engaged in a "bedding" ritual to demonstrate the consummation of their marriage. After the ceremony and reception, guests would follow the team to their chamber to witness the bride's somewhat intrusive "deflowering" practice. To create privacy, couples would throw out a piece of the bride's attire to satisfy their curious onlookers.

In contemporary times, the garter toss has transformed into a playful and amusing ritual, typically occurring during a livelier celebration segment. The person catching the tossed garter is humorously designated as the next in line for love and marriage, making it particularly popular among the party's most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.

What Does the Wedding Garter Mean or Symbolize?

Historically, the wedding garter has commonly represented love and fortune. During the Middle Ages, its significance was closely linked to concepts of virginity and marital consummation. However, in contemporary times, it has evolved into a playful and cheerful element of weddings, showcasing the couple's chemistry and providing an opportunity for interaction with guests. Additionally, the wedding garter, often crafted from heirloom materials and passed down as a cherished part of a keepsake wedding dress, can carry symbolic weight regarding family connections and traditions.

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The Modern Meaning of the Wedding Garter

Fortunately, the wedding garter now symbolizes love and luck for guests, moving away from its historical connotations related to virginity or intrusive examinations by friends and family. Today, its significance is centered on fashion, enjoyment, sensuality, and maintaining tradition!

What is the Garter Toss?

In summary, the garter toss is a customary wedding ritual involving removing and tossing the bride's garter to a group of unmarried men. It serves as the groom's counterpart to the bouquet toss, symbolizing good fortune for the single gentlemen present.

In today's world of diverse and imaginative weddings, the garter toss tradition has undergone numerous adaptations and customizations to suit the preferences of nontraditional couples, same-sex couples, and those with distinctive wedding concepts. Towards the conclusion of this article, we've outlined some of these modifications and substitutes for the traditional garter toss!

Wedding Dress

Who Takes the Garter Off?

In a typical bride-groom scenario, it is customary for the groom to remove the garter from the bride's leg and toss it to a gathering of single men. The sequence unfolds as follows:

  • The couple designates a specific time during their reception for the garter toss.
  • An announcement is made by the couple or the emcee, prompting a group of men to assemble around the bride seated in a chair. Meanwhile, the groom positions himself nearby.
  • To infuse humor and excitement into the moment, the groom may engage in playful dancing and teasing with the bride.
  • Using either his hands or perhaps even his teeth, the groom removes the garter from the bride, creating a moment that can be as flirtatious or humorous as the couple desires.
  • The groom then throws the garter into the crowd of male onlookers.
  • The man who successfully catches the bride's garter is humorously deemed the "winner" and is said to be the next one in line for marriage.


As for the question of whether wearing a wedding garter is mandatory, the answer is a resounding no. There's no obligation to include a wedding garter if it doesn't align with your style, comfort level, or desired traditions. Feel free to forgo this tradition entirely if you prefer, as no one should impede your choice to shape your celebration in a way that resonates with you.

Reasons You May Not Want to Do a Garter Toss

Couples often skip the garter toss for various reasons, such as being old-fashioned and overly gender-specific, considering it too intimate and potentially embarrassing in a family setting, feeling uncomfortable singling out single individuals in the audience or simply preferring to establish alternative traditions for their celebration. Feel free to omit the garter toss from your wedding festivities if any of these reasons resonate!

Wedding Dress

Explore Alternatives to the Garter Toss

  • Skip it!
  • Conduct a garter toss without the traditional "undressing" element (keep the garter in your pocket).
  • Opt for a bouquet toss only, eliminating the need for a garter.
  • Include all genders in the bouquet toss without separating men and women.
  • Toss the groom's boutonniere and the bouquet, bypassing the garter ritual.
  • Break up the bouquet and distribute stems to significant guests in the audience.
  • Organize an anniversary dance involving all married couples.
  • Play a song inviting singles to join the dance floor.
  • Toss a prize to your favorite restaurant, such as a gift card.
  • Plan a balloon drop.
  • Create a champagne tower for a unique celebration.


And there you have it—the comprehensive rundown of wedding garter tradition alternatives! The decision is entirely yours; you can use the bridal garter for photos only, modify the details, substitute it with another tradition, or skip it altogether. The key is to enjoy the moment and create a special memory with your significant other. While you're here, be sure to explore our extensive array of bridal gowns at AMARRA to complete your wedding preparations. Best wishes!


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