If you are preparing for your wedding day, then you already have an idea about how many things you have to buy. There’s the wedding dress, the veil, the shoes, accessories, not to mention the jewellry, and wedding lingerie. So, what about the garter? Is it an essential for your wedding day?
Around 85% of US and UK brides opt to wear a garter on their wedding day, as it has been a tradition for centuries, but why do we actually do this? What does the garter mean and who buys the garter for the bride?
What is a garter?
The wedding garter is a small piece of bridal lingerie that is meant to be worn under the wedding dress around the leg on the thigh. It is often made of lace, or designed with pretty patterns and intricate details.
The idea is that the groom uses either his hands or his teeth (we know, cringe!) to remove the garter in an incredibly sexually charged wedding pastime.
Personally, we wouldn’t want our moms and dads watching our husband remove bridal lingerie at our weddings, but the tradition has remained for centuries! So, where does this very personal and intimate tradition come from?
The act of removing the garter from the bride dates back centuries, and is still performed today. It is said that the removal of the garter is a tradition that goes back to the Dark Ages, and was meant to symbolize that the marriage was complete, through the loss of the bride’s chastity.
What does the garter symbolize?
Well, traditionally, the newlywed couple was meant to consummate the marriage as soon as possible after the wedding ceremony had taken place. They didn’t waste any time! In some cases, family members and friends would wait outside of the room for the marriage act to take place, and ensure that it had indeed happened.
After the marriage had been consummated by the couple, the groom was meant to give the bride’s garter to the crowd waiting outside the room, and prove to family and friends that the act had been done.
In other cases, it was thought that it was good luck to take a piece of the bride’s wedding ensemble. During medieval times, wedding guests would try to take a scrap of the dress before the consummation took place.
In these circumstances, the bride would have an easily accessible and removable garter that she could toss to the crowd to get them to leave her alone. Whoever found the garter had all of the good luck!
In more recent years, the garter simply symbolizes good luck, fortune and fertility. The person who receives the garter will have good luck, find love and would be the next to marry.
Nowadays, many brides use the garter tradition to have something old, something new and something blue. They often use old, vintage lace, along with new, soft silk and blue ribbons to tick all three boxes in order to have good luck on their wedding day! For example, there are lace garters with vintage sequins in baby blue such as this one:
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Who buys the garter for the bride?
There are no actual rules for who should buy the garter for the bride. In most cases today, the bride will buy her own, as she may want one that perfectly fits and matches the theme of her wedding gown.
In other families, it is tradition for the female members of the bride’s family to purchase the garter. A mother or sister could possibly present the bride with a garter on the big day, or it could be a family heirloom worn by all of the female members of the family on their wedding days.
A bridesmaid or maid of honor could also be the one to purchase the garter for the bride, as a possible surprise and fun gift for the bachelorette party! In some cases, the fiance has purchased the garter for the bride, either to be worn on the wedding day or as a beautiful keepsake and memory of their big day.
There is no actual tradition for who purchases the garter, as it really can be anyone. Whoever does decide to buy the garter should be someone who knows the bride very well, as they will need to know the right size and style that she would love the most!
Why do brides wear a garter?
Garters are traditionally worn to hold up the stockings on the bride’s legs. There is no correct leg to wear it on for good luck, and can be worn on either the left or right side.
In weddings today, the garter is worn by the bride, and towards the evening, the garter will be removed by the groom, who will take it off and toss it to unmarried male guests at the weddings. It is believed that whoever catches the garter will receive good luck, or will be the next person to be married.
The tradition is very similar to the throwing of the bouquet, but is aimed towards the male guests at the wedding. The groom reaches under the dress of the bride in a suggestive manner, locates the garter and throws it into a crowd of bachelors, bringing fortune and love to whoever catches it as a little bit of fun.
As the garter is often tossed into a crowd of rowdy bachelors, brides today will often wear two garters, one to keep as a memory and one to toss, and never be seen again!