garters are one of the oldest wedding traditions
Garters are still very much a significant part of a Bride’s Wedding Day. Wedding Garters seem to have begun a resurgence in popularity, as Brides to Be choose a Garter that expresses their individuality beautifully. The important element of wearing ‘something blue’ on a Brides Wedding Day is easily solved by wearing a Bridal Garter with a touch of something blue incorporated into its design.
Garter Traditions have stood the test of time whilst other Wedding Traditions have long been forgotten. Garters were thought to bring good luck and fortune to the happy couple. Dating back to England to the 14th Century it was believed to bring good luck to anyone who could obtain a piece of the Wedding Dress worn by the Bride on her Wedding Day. The Brides’ dress was literally torn away, to the displeasure of both the Bride and Groom!
In the 17th and 18th Centuries, the Garter was a silk sash tied below the Brides’ knee. The Bachelors considered the sash to be a trophy. Whomever “captured” the Garter would wear it in his hat for the remainder of the Wedding Celebration. To keep themselves and the Bridal Dress intact, the Bride and Groom began to throw a Bridal Garter at the guests.
Winning the Bride’s Garter was not only lucky, but the belief was that their good luck could be carried through. For it was believed that a man who gave his beloved a Bride’s Garter would be guaranteed his loved one’s faithfulness. It was up to the best man to ‘steal’ the Garter, tear it into small pieces and distribute it to the Wedding Guests. This notice was taken so to heart that often guests were seriously injured in the rush for the Garter!
It has now become customary for the Groom to remove the Bridal Garter from the Brides’ leg himself and then toss it to the Bachelors.
“something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”
We all know this cute saying, but where did it actually come from? After searching for its origin, I found that the complete phrase is actually:
“something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
and a silver sixpence in her shoe”
A sixpence was a little coin made of silver and worth six pennies. It was minted in Britain from 1551 to 1967, indicating that the Wedding Tradition of the Bride wearing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue is probably English. Many sources say that it began in the Victorian era.
Each item in this poem represents a good-luck token for the Bride. If she carries all of them on her Wedding Day, it is said her Marriage will be a happy one!
- “something old” symbolises continuity with the Brides’ family and the past
- “something new” means optimism and hope for the Brides’ life ahead
- “something borrowed” is usually an item from a happily married friend or family member, whose good fortune in Marriage is supposed to carry over to the new Bride. The borrowed item also reminds the Bride that she can depend on her friends and family.
- “something blue” has been connected to Weddings for Centuries. In ancient Rome, Brides wore blue to symbolise love, modesty and fidelity. Purity was also associated with the colour blue. Before the late 19th Century, blue was a popular colour for Wedding Gowns, as evidenced in proverbs like, “Marry in Blue, Lover be True.”
Today, Brides are working the old, new, borrowed and blue objects into their Wedding themselves.
In keeping with the adage . . .“something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” . . .
Brides often choose to wear a blue garter. This, it is thought, will protect the bride against bad luck or unhappiness.
Thus began the Tradition of Tossing the Garter!
Many Brides today are very enthusiastic to continue the Tradition of a Garter Toss. The Groom removes and tosses the Garter, right before the Bride tosses her Bouquet. Custom has it that the Bachelor who catches the Garter must place it on the leg of the unmarried women who catches the Bouquet.
The Tradition nowadays is for the Bride to wear two Garters if she wants to engage in this ritual. One, a less expensive Garter to be tossed by the Groom; the other, a special Garter to enjoy as a keepsake that is removed later in private during their Honeymoon night. Both Garters are usually worn on the right leg just above the knee, but they can just as easily be worn on the left leg too.
Most Brides now simply throw their Bouquet to the Bridesmaids, while the Groom throws the Garter to the Groomsmen. The Groomsmen who catches the Garter can also slip it onto the leg of the Bridesmaid who caught the Bouquet. Traditionally, the man who caught the garter and the lady who caught the Bouquet would share the next dance. This ritual can be lots of fun to organise. Many couples put as much thought and time into rehearsing their Garter Toss as they do their Wedding Dance.
video of garter toss
I’ve included two UTube Videos of a Wedding Garter Toss below to give you some fun ideas to explore for your Wedding Reception Festivities! Let me know if you try these ideas or if you create a video at your Wedding that you’d like to share with us here at Garters & Co. We would love to share it!
funny pink panther garter removal
how a groom should get the garter from his new bride
Below is a link listing the top 50 songs for a Wedding Garter Toss. Hope you find one you like! (I personally love Theme from Mission: Impossible, Clayton, Adam & Larry Mullen and also Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins)
There is an alternative to the ‘garter tossing’ Tradition. The Bride and Groom ask all the married couples to stand. Then by groups of five or ten years, the married couples are asked to be seated as the length of their Marriage is mentioned. The couple that remains standing is the one married the longest. They are ‘rewarded with the Bridal Bouquet and the Wedding Garter”.
Some couples make use of Tradition, using the Bouquet and Garter Toss as a way to acknowledge a special person. It can, for example, be a way to single-out an engaged friend or relative, possibly a Mother or Grandmother. Whatever the form of presentation, it’s best to avoid a surprise and ask the recipient, in advance, for their okay. This avoids any embarrassment as not everyone is comfortable being singled out in front of an audience, even for something as pleasant as this.
Despite the ritual of Grooms throwing their Bride’s Garter to the single male guests, many couples prefer to acknowledge the Tradition of the Bridal Garter simply by posing for the classic and somewhat customary Garter photograph and then the Garter is removed later during the privacy of the Newlyweds Honeymoon evening. How romantic!
Old Traditions are hard to break. Bridal couples must be mindful that just because something has been around for a long time, doesn’t mean that fashioning new rituals isn’t perfectly acceptable and perhaps even preferable. The new alternatives may in time become Traditions in their own right.
There are no hard and fast rules about Tossing the Bouquet and Throwing the Garter. With this Custom, like many of the other aspects of a Wedding Celebration, it should reflect the wishes, sensibilities and sensitivities of the Bridal Couple and their Wedding Guests.