Wedding Garter History

Learn all about the history of the wedding garter tradition from The Garter Girl's blog — your source for wedding planning advice.

It can be tough to track down traditions. When it comes to weddings and traditions many people just do them and don't ask why. As a designer of stylish wedding garters, and custom garters, I thought it only fitting to share with you what I discovered about the history of wedding garters.

This is the another wedding planning advice post in my wedding garter 101 blog series where I'll answer any and all of your questions about wedding garters. From sizing, to design, to fit, there are so many questions about bridal garters and I hope that you'll check back and find lots more answers.

wedding garter history

Onto the history of the wedding garter….

Oldest Tradition

The wedding garter is said to be one of the oldest wedding traditions, dating back to the Dark Ages. After the wedding festivities, wedding guests would accompany the bride and groom up to their bedroom to ensure that the couple 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. (You can see where this is going with the garter….!)

Over time, this wedding night 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. I'm not quite sure how this was "helpful," or that they couple needs help, however it was a different time!) 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!

wedding garter history


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 wedding reception to help keep guests at bay and pass on the good fortune. You can also see where today's modern garter toss tradition of having the single wedding guests out on the dance floor to catch garter came from!

Garter Evolution

Over the years, the garter itself has evolved in form and function. Garters were always for weddings heirlooms only. In fact, garters were worn by men and women to hold up their socks. As the dress hemlines got shorter and shorter over the years, women began wearing garter belts around their waists so their stockings would stay up discreetly. Today, many ice hockey players still wear a form of a garter to prevent their socks from rolling over their ankles.

I love this vintage photo from the 1920's of a woman using her garter to hold up a hidden flask during prohibition.

bridal garter history girl with flask garter

Modern Tradition

Since the invention of elastic and pantyhose in the 1960's, 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.

Many couples just love the history and the tradition of a wedding and are looking for an heirloom to pass on – the wedding garter is a perfect choice!

Even if you don't want to do the garter toss, brides today are still getting a garter to save as a special heirloom from their wedding. More and more brides are skipping the garter toss ceremony at the reception and are just getting garter to save.

So, if you flaunt your garter, toss your garter at your wedding, or just keep it as your little secret to pass on through the generations, remember that wearing a garter on your wedding day is like wearing a little piece of history!


Do you have any more questions about the wedding garter?

Remember, you can shop for bluevintageclassic and modern garter heirlooms anytime in my garter shop or get in touch with me at for information on custom designing a garter just for you!

If you have any more garter questions, check out my garter 101 blog series or find all of my wedding planning advice here on my blog.