What Is the Meaning of a Wedding Garter?


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Most brides choose to wear a wedding garter beneath the gown as a symbol of tradition. While there seem to be countless stories on how the tossing of the wedding garter came to be, the fact remains that it still one of the oldest wedding traditions practiced.


Garter on the leg of a bride

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Research about how the wedding garter tradition began seems to point back to the 14th century. According to Wed Alert, "the guests of the bride and groom believed having a piece of the bride’s clothing was thought to bring good luck." This led them to ripping pieces from the bride's gown, which she was not happy with. To avoid being bombarded, she then began to throw guests pieces of her attire, with one of those pieces being the garter. However, some of the intoxicated men would try to take the garter early, so the tradition was born that the groom would take the garter off of the bride and throw it to the men. Other traditions include the guests entering the bridal chamber and stealing the bride's stockings. The Knot tells us that this was called "flinging the stocking." It became a game where the men would see who could be the first to fling it onto the groom's nose. Whoever did this would be the next to get married. While there are several stories about how this tradition began, the core of tossing the garter still remains today.


Caucasian groom flipping a garter belt

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The garter toss involves throwing the garter into a group of single men at the wedding. The tradition says that the bachelor who catches the garter will be the next one to get married.


Putting On the Garter

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Although garters were once a part of the bride's undergarments, they have since become easy-to-remove pieces. The bride will wear two garters on the right leg. One will be taken off and thrown into the crowd of bachelors and the other can be removed on the wedding night and used as a keepsake for the bride and groom.


Bride putting on garter around leg

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The garter should be worn on the right leg at about the middle of the thigh. It usually gets removed from the bride's leg at the reception directly after the bouquet toss.


Caribbean Beach Wedding - Garter Belt

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Before the garter removal, the groom needs to be made aware of how much leg the bride wants to show. Brides Magazine tells us to "make sure you let your fiance know how much of you can be revealed to the crowd." If you want to avoid a potential embarrassment, make sure you and the groom talk about it before the big day.