July 10, 2009
Wedding Garter History
It can be tough to track down traditions. And, when it comes to weddings and traditions many people just do them and don’t ask why. As a designer of stylish wedding garters, I thought it only fitting to share with you what I discovered about the history of wedding garters.
The wedding garter is said to be one of the oldest wedding traditions, dating back to the Dark Ages. After the wedding festivities, guests would accompany the bride and groom up to their bedroom to ensure that they arrived safely and to wish them well. It was considered good luck for a guest to take home a little piece of the brides clothing.
Over time, this ritual evolved into a wild wedding night romp where guests would tackle the bride, ripping her clothes off hoping for a piece of her attire. (It is also said that wedding guests did this to “help” the new couple along.) In the melee, the garter, which at that time was used to hold up a woman’s stockings, would get tossed and it was considered good luck for whoever caught it. Whoever caught the garter was the next to be married. And in those days, I guess you couldn’t leave anything to chance!
I can only imagine that as a way to class up weddings a little bit and get the audience out of the newlywed’s bedroom, the wedding garter toss was eventually incorporated into the reception to help keep guests at bay and pass on the good fortune.
Over the years, the garter itself has evolved in form and function. Garters were worn by men and women to hold up their socks. As the hemlines got shorter, women began wearing garter belts around their wastes so their stockings would stay up discretely. In fact, many ice hockey players today still wear a form of a garter to prevent their socks from rolling over their ankles. I love this vintage photo from the 1920s of a woman using her garter to hold up a hidden flask during prohibition.
Since the invention of elastic and pantyhose in the 1960s, ladies (and men) don’t really need to use garters or garter belts to help them hold up their socks anymore. But still, wearing a wedding garter and the garter toss ritual at receptions has remained a part of many modern weddings.
So, if you flaunt it, toss it, or keep it as your little secret – remember that wearing a garter on your wedding day is like wearing a little piece of history!
Check out my garter 101 blog series for more questions and answers about the wedding garter!
C o m m e n t s
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I think it came from the Order to ther Garter aka the Knights of Malta.
Look up Countess of Salisbury” (it may refer to Joan of Kent,…)
or Richard I during the Crusades.
Posted by: birdog45 · November 29, 2010 at 5:45 am
Cool History Lesson! Had to pass it along!!!
Posted by: Berry and Jerri from InI PhotoGraphics · May 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm
[...] i’d like to think that we’ve progressed beyond the dark ages when the wedding garter tradition originally started. as a modern society, can we all agree that the person who catches the wedding [...]
Posted by: don’t single out the singles for the wedding garter toss « julianne smith's garter girl blog · October 15, 2009 at 7:06 am
[...] admit I’ve never given it a thought. And back in July she shared an article entitled, “Wedding Garter History 101.” and many [...]
Posted by: Bride Online #17: Julianne Smith Wedding Garters | Charlottesville Area Weddings Blog · September 11, 2009 at 9:27 am
[...] garters were purely functional and worn on both legs to keep up socks and stockings. (click here to read my post about wedding garter history.) because of the duel leg purpose, garters used in [...]
Posted by: which leg gets the wedding garter? « julianne smith's garter girl blog · August 21, 2009 at 7:22 am
hey girl! i’m so glad that you love your garter – i loved making it for you!
Posted by: juliannesmith · July 12, 2009 at 8:48 am
This is Emily you recently made me a purple and orange garter that I LOVE! This garter history is too fun. Love knowing why we still do it.
Posted by: sassysmolak · July 10, 2009 at 8:12 pm
It is so funny where these things come from! I am so glad no one is ripping mementos from the bride anymore…
Posted by: Jessica · July 10, 2009 at 6:31 pm
loved reading the history~~~L
Posted by: linda lignelli · July 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm