With around 85% of brides in the UK and US choosing to wear wedding garter sets on the big day, we thought it would be helpful to answer the question ‘what is the tradition behind the wedding garter?’
If you’ve ever wondered how the tradition of the wedding garter came about, we’ve delved into the history books to reveal how wedding garter traditions and meanings began and why they’re still around to this day.
The whole tradition behind the wedding garter dates back to the Dark Ages, where it was considered good luck to take home a piece of the bride's clothing. Family and guests at the wedding would accompany the newlyweds to the bedroom to ensure that they arrived safely, and would try to rip the bride’s dress to keep a ‘lucky’ piece of it for themselves. This tradition soon turned into wearing and then removing a garter, in order to protect the bride from over-enthusiastic participants in the wedding party.
The bridal garter was also seen as proof of the consummation of marriage, with the groom presenting the garter to family and friends following the couples’ first night together as man and wife.
Often worn out of fashion and necessity in the 1700s, both the bride and groom would wear ribbon garters to hold their stockings up. Following their wedding celebrations, the wedding guests would again follow the newly married couple to the bridal chamber and take part in a game of ‘Fling the Stocking’. Unmarried men and women would try to remove the stockings of the bride and groom and then toss them over their shoulder, in the hope the stocking would land on the married pair and they would be blessed with a successful marriage of their own.
As the 1800s rolled around, the ‘race for the garter’ custom appeared. Here the single groomsmen would dash from the church to the bridal home, and the winner was rewarded with the garter, tossed to him by the bride. This fun bridal garter tradition evolved into the groom throwing the garter to his groomsmen, with the winner pinning the garter to his hat for good luck.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, the prudish restraint of the population meant that the scandal of tossing a garter was exchanged for throwing the bridal bouquet, leading to the emergence of yet another modern-day wedding tradition.
At modern weddings, the removing and tossing of the garter is now the privilege of the groom at the reception. He tosses the garter to the unmarried male guests at the wedding. It is thought that catching the garter will bring you good luck and in, some cases, indicate that you will be married next.
The bridal garter lends itself easily to other wedding traditions too. Use the vintage lace from a Wedding Garter Co lace bridal garter as your ‘something old’, find smooth and shiny silk wedding garters for your ‘something new’, or add a hint of blue ribbon or crystal on a blue bridal garter to tick the ‘something blue’ box.