The Tradition of the Bridal Garter

In this post I will discuss the tradition of the bridal garter and other information, such as how to wear one on a wedding day.  I will also give ideas and suggestions for several different styles of bridal garter for any season or theme.

It is believed that the tradition of a garter was started during the Middle Ages; it is considered one of the oldest wedding traditions.  Back then weddings were rowdy public affairs with guests barging in on the bride and groom on their wedding night to witness the couple consummating their marriage (can you imagine how romantic that would be!).  Guests also thought that any token from the wedding would bring them good luck and for this reason the custom began of grabbing at the bride’s wedding dress to tear off to get a piece for a very lucky souvenir!!  Eventually, to appease these intrusive guests, the bride’s garter was tossed into the crowd instead in order to keep her safe from harm and also her dress from being torn to shreds. 

Special Note: Back in those days, a garter was a narrow band of fabric that was used to fasten the stockings to the leg to keep them from slipping.  Both men and women wore stockings and would usually tie a garter just below the knee.       

Today, a bridal garter is generally made in a satin fabric trimmed with lace and it can come in a variety of different colors with additional embellishment such as charms or beading or rhinestones.  Traditionally it is white in color but sometimes a bride will want to have one in blue to be used on her wedding day as her “something blue”.  Sometimes the garter can be custom made for any style or theme of a wedding, such as a destination beach wedding garter can embellished with seashells.

Typically a garter will be bought by the bride; after all she may want one in a particular color or theme to match the style of her wedding.  If the bride’s preferences are known, a garter can be purchased or custom made as a special gift for a bridal shower from the mother of the bride and perhaps it could to be included with a lingerie set.

Of course a custom designed garter from a vendor would require a certain production time so it would be wise to order well in advance of the wedding day.  Also, be sure to try on the garter before the wedding day to make sure it fits properly and allow time for any adjustments to be made.

A bridal garter can be worn on either leg; there is no particular meaning as to which leg it is worn.  The choice is really up to the bride’s preference and she would need to decide on which leg it feels the most comfortable, it is recommended that a garter be worn just above the knee.  Usually the garter is placed on her leg when the bride is getting dressed on her wedding day, either the bride or a maid/matron of honor can do this after the bride’s dress is put on. 

Another decision that the bride needs to make is whether she wants to have a garter toss at the reception or to keep the garter to display in a shadowbox after the wedding or to pass on to her children.  Today, most brides use two garters on their wedding day, one to keep and one to toss.  Usually the one that is kept is more elaborate in design and the one to toss is more plain and simple. 

At one point during the reception the groom will ceremonially remove the garter from the bride’s leg (cue the silly music that is usually played during the removal of the garter!)  A garter toss is similar to a bouquet toss for the unmarried bridesmaids or female guests and a garter toss is usually for the unmarried groomsmen and male guests. It is said that the one to catch the bouquet or the garter is believed to be the next to marry!  Of course if the bridal couple thinks a bouquet and garter toss seems too old fashioned a custom for their reception or if a more modest bride does not wish to expose her legs during the removal of the garter this can be skipped.   

Now, let’s discuss the various styles of bridal garters.  Shown before are some ideas and suggestions ranging from the simple design to the more elaborate to different colors and themes to fit any type of wedding.

a simple white lace bridal garter

a white bridal garter set (one to keep and one to toss)

a blue bridal garter for a bride’s “something blue”

an elegant silver grey bridal garter set with pearl and rhinestone embellishments

a formal black bow bridal garter

a bold red satin bridal garter with rhinestone accents

 a lovely pink bridal garter set

an elegant white lace bridal garter
embellished with a bow and pearl and rhinestone brooch

a white satin bridal garter with a pearl and rhinestone pendant

a white bridal garter embellished with feathers, pearl and rhinestones

a ivory bridal garter with a lucky horseshoe charm
(a three leaf clover could also be used for good luck)

a blue monogram added to a bridal garter with fabric roses

the bride’s new married name can be added to a bridal garter

a great bridal garter set embellished with seashells
which would be perfect for a beach wedding

a beautiful bronze bridal garter set which would perfect for a fall wedding

a silver grey bridal garter set with snowflake charms
would be great for a winter wedding

a bridal garter set trimmed with a yellow bandana
for a country themed wedding

shown above are two bridal garter sets for a policemen or firemen couple

an army bridal garter set for a military couple

here is an idea for a bridal garter set
which could feature a bride or groom’s sorority or fraternity

So, as you can see from the examples above there is a vast variety of bridal garters that could be used for any wedding style or theme.