The Garter. What a strange element of wedding attire. You may be pondering how this band of material infiltrated the wedding day. Well wonder no more, sit back and enjoy the history lesson. I should caveat that this is apparently one of the oldest surviving wedding traditions. Once I start reminiscing about the Dark Ages it can be difficult to verify that this is 100% fact, however this is the commonly believed version of events.
The Garter as worn in weddings has not always been in it’s modern form. In its original guise, it was the band or belt used to hold up stocks and subsequently stockings. This was when lycra and elastic were but a twinkle in some inventors eye. At this time the wedding tradition went that, post ceremony, guests would accompany the bride and groom to their bedroom to ensure they arrived in safety (yes, really). Having done so, they were rewarded for their efforts with a little piece of the brides clothing. There is one version of events that suggest the tradition of “garter toss” started at this point as some sort of parlour game in which the bridal party tried to throw it onto the grooms nose. This sounds extemely dubious to me.
What is commonly believe is that this demure bedroom practice evolved over time into a wild spectacle (no doubt due to those frisky Romans) in which guests would tackle the bride and rip pieces of her clothing off. Somehow in this chaos, the garter (belt) would get tossed to the thrashing hoardes, which mutated into a sign of good luck and the catcher indicated as the next to get married.
Fast forward and tradition and form has evolved. With garter belts being somewhat redundant (although many men still consider them to be extremely sexy) a separate item – the modern day wedding garter – evolved that could be easily removed and thrown to guests. Moving this to an earlier point in proceedings also saved the unpleasant marital bedroom scrum. These days it’s pretty rare for the garter toss to happen at all – I’ve seen it at a tiny minority of UK weddings, although I gather it’s more popular in the USA for example. Perhaps we’ve all just got too proper for wild orgies and undergarment flinging.
The garter itself, however, continues to thrive. Mine was in fact handmade for me by a Granny-in-law. If you don’t have the dextrous skill of an in-law to create yours, here’s some inspiration hunted for styles and places you can buy your own.
The traditional modern garter tends to look like one of these delicate lace ones via Glitzy Secrets. Complete with full “skirt” of material, you can either opt for your “something blue” or choose ivory tones to complement a vintage overall feel.
If you are thinking of incorporating a garter toss, but feel a bit cheated to be losing the item, you can get two piece garter sets like the one above via Angelic Weddings. Nifty huh? These wedding folks think of everything.
Oddly I’ve yet to reference the military bride on this blog. Double odd as I went to a military bride’s wedding recently. Note to self – must redress soon. As a starter, if you are a forces sweetheart, or just happen to love a bit of camouflage wear, this garter via Silk Garters might be the one for you.
If you’re a fan of a bit of bling, how’s this for something completely different? This silver rhinestone garter via Etsy has platinum ties at the back, perfect for the lavish bride.
Finally, as with all elements of the modern wedding, you can throw tradition right out of the window with design. Take inspiration for example from this bare-foot bohemian bride above who has used an array of brightly coloured flowers to great effect (via Austin Wedding Blog)
Wedding garters, been a pleasure hunting you.
Would you still incorporate a garter toss into your day? Or do you think it’s old-fashioned?
Comments always welcomed below.