A wedding garter is an ideal wedding day keepsake. It is a small little expression of a couple's special moment in time, making it perfect to save for years to come. It truly is the ideal modern wedding heirloom! If the garter is protected properly after your wedding, you might even consider passing your wedding garter onto someone as an heirloom garter. What not create a new family tradition?
If you want to save your garter and maybe pass it on, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. Not all keepsakes are created equal and hand made heirlooms require a little bit more TLC! Up next in my wedding garter 101 blog series I will give you some tips for how to care for your garter so that it brings you so much love and joy long after your wedding.
Photo Credit: Renee Hollingshead
Here are some tips and things to think about when to taking care of your garter after your wedding. Instead of just shoving your garter in a wedding box or in the back of your lingerie drawer and never thinking about it again, which I'm sure happens more often than not!
Your wedding garter will be worn all day long and it is hot under that wedding dress. The first thing you need to do to protect your wedding garter is to wash it. Fabric generally used for garters like satin or lace are delicate. When fabric has dirt, oil and sweat on the material will breakdown over time and turn yellow. Depending on the material itself, you'll have different ways that you should wash it, just like clothes. In general, I recommend that you wash your garter by hand and not use the washing machine. Soak the garter in cold water or dab it with a cold washcloth and then lay it flat to dry. If you tossed your garter and it landed in a big pile of mud, consider using a small amount of gentle detergent for lingerie.
Over time, know that the elastic might not hold up. Elastic breaks down and the stretchy fibers fade. (Think about old bathing suits and elastic waste bands that loose their give over the years.) So, in 10 years when you get your garter out of a box to pass it onto a cousin, don't be surprised when you stretch it and the elastic disintegrates and the garter doesn't shrink back. If you want to wear your garter again or someone else wants to wear it, keep in mind that you'll need to replace the elastic. (This is also an important tip for brides-to-be: If you want to wear an heirloom garter that someone passed on to you, make sure you try it on before your wedding to check the strength of the elastic.)
Similar to the elastic, some decorations won't stand the test of time. The biggest offender here is feathers. Feathers don't last. If you really love feathers and want to wear them on your wedding day, go for it. (I'm a feather fan, myself) But, know that they are generally a one-time wear and they might not make it for the long haul. On the other hand, embellishments like lace and beads should be able to make it. Of course, this does depend on if they were properly attached the first time. Anything sewn by hand or machine last for a long time as opposed to anything glued because glue breaks down overtime.
I recommend keeping your wedding garter in a bag. A bag made of material (not plastic), like cotton, will protect your garter from dust, light and bumps. Also, if any of the decorations fall off of your garter, they will be saved in the bag. (Garter Girl tip…This is why all of my wedding garters come with a keepsake bag to save your garter in after your wedding!) Before you wash your garter (if needed) and let it completely dry before putting it away.
So, before you toss your garter into your wedding box, take some time to protect it so that it will bring you as much joy in the future as it did on your wedding day!