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Wedding Garter Traditions

Wedding Traditions and Garter Traditions

Are you getting married and want an explanation of why a wedding garter is part of the wedding tradition?

Wedding Garter Tradition UK

Garters have been worn for hundreds of years... And the tradition of wearing a ‘wedding garter’ has been part of the UK’s rich history, passed down through generations with 85% of brides carrying on with the tradition and the ‘something blue’ superstition as an essential part of their wedding.

Garter History

The purpose of a wedding garter was traditionally to hold up stockings, there was no elastic until 1820 and even then it was mainly used for fastenings on gloves etc. Stockings were knitted in 'stocking stitch' giving a smooth finish, the tops were knitted in 'garter stitch' which is less likely to curl over, but has no real elasticity. Garters were made of ribbon and tied tightly around the leg at the top of the stocking to keep the leg of the stocking smooth. Ouch! it doesn't sound comfortable at all!

Throwing your wedding garter or bouquet is thought to be a direct descendant of the game 'fling the stocking'

Can you imagine it's 1733, 'flinging the stocking' was a favourite wedding chamber sport: Yes, in the 'Honeymoon suite'  unmarried men seized the bride's stockings and single girls the groom's, each group took it in turns to sit at the bottom of the bed and in turn to toss the stockings over their heads to fall, on the bridegroom if thrown by a girl, on the bride if thrown by a man. Success was meant to indicate an early marriage for the young person.

  ''Then all the younger folks in,

With ceremony throw the stocking

Backward, o’er head, in turn they toss’d it;

Till in sack-posset they had lost it.

Th’intent of flinging thus hose

Is to hit him or her on the nose,

Who hits the mark o’er the left shoulder

Must be married be ere twelve monthes older.''

                                                  (Progress of Matrimony, 1733)

Throwing the garter and bouquet are believed to be direct descendants of 'flinging the stocking'.

 Moving on to the 1800's, it was customary for the bride to toss her garter to the male guest who had won the 'race for the garter' (from the church to the bridehouse).  

In 1820 Lady.... on stepping from her bridal coach, enquired who had won the race. She called to the lad, 'come Tom and claim your prize. For I intend to be properly married, and to have the luck I am entitled to.' Smiling she added 'Take it off, Tom, and give it to your sweetheart, and may it bring luck to both of you.'
 But frequently the men got too drunk and would become impatient and try to remove the garter ahead of time. 

Later in Victorian times, in the interests of decorum the custom in the UK changed to tossing the bridal bouquet. Tossing the garter has been revived in America, where two garters will be bought one to toss and one to keep.

Wearing a Wedding Garter / Etiquette

Do Brides Still Wear a Wedding Garter?

Yes, in a recent poll, 85% of brides said they would be wearing a wedding garter. *Survey by British Bride 2014

Can I Still Wear a Garter?

Even if you're not wearing stockings, the choice is yours whether you want to wear a garter or not :-) When brides show off their garter photos half of them aren't wearing stockings... and when sites like ours photograph them on a leg, it's not usually with stockings because you don't see the garter as clearly...

Which leg do I wear a garter on?

If you're wondering how to wear your wedding garter...Traditionally you wore garters on both legs, since the invention of suspender belts and hold up stockings, it's really just a token and so can be worn on either leg, whichever feels most comfortable :-)

How High Up?

Again this is totally up to you, but if you intend having a garter photo, just 4" above the knee is good...If you're holding up a large skirt for your photo, you can't always see from your position quite how much you're showing off! If you don't intend having a garter photo, just wear it wherever you feel comfortable.

Who Should Buy the Wedding Garter?

Some say it should be bought by the 'Maid of Honour', but we've asked who's buying ours at SilkGarters.co.uk and they're fairly evenly split between, bridesmaids, relations, the groom and the bride herself :-)

Wedding Garter Definition...

There is confusion between terms suspender belt, garter belt and a garter...A suspender belt, translates into French 'port-jarretelles' 'around the hips'. The US garter belt is worn around the waist or just above the hips. A garter is worn on the leg.

One Garter or Two

It's usual in the UK just to have one wedding garter, in the USA where the garter toss is more common, two are usually bought as a set. An elaborate garter for the bride to keep as a keepsake and a simpler version to be tossed to the male guests... So you only need two garters if you're going to use one to throw.

How to Remove Your Wedding Garter

Again this is totally your choice, don't feel you have to do anything on your special day that makes you feel uncomfortable...
In the USA the 'garter toss' is popular and there are hundreds of You Tube videos showing the bride seated in the middle of the room, with her skirts hitched up and the groom kneeling in front of her removing the garter with his teeth, while the guests look on clapping and singing...(who ever decided he should use his teeth on a delicate little piece of silk and lace!!!)

This isn't for everyone...you may choose to discreetly remove your own toss garter for your husband to throw, or you may decide to keep it for his eyes only, the choice is entirely yours!

  1. It's 'traditional' to have a garter... but personalise it and make it unique to you!
  1. Solve your 'Something Blue' with blue embroidered text

  1. Choose a vintage lace or add a lucky sixpence bag, from the 'added extras' section, for your 'Something Old'

  1. Your 'Something New' garter will be lovingly handmade for you from start to finish x

We have all heard the rhyme

'Something Old, Something New
Something Borrowed, Something Blue
and a Silver Sixpence for Her Shoe.'

Below you will find a short explanation of what they symbolise

Something Old

The wedding veil was traditionally handed down through generations of the family's brides. In the USA the dress was also handed down and each bride would stitch her own wedding dress label inside, embroidered with the happy couples names and their wedding date.
If you don't have something old, you can choose a vintage lace...take a look at our Ayana wedding garter right or the cotton lace 'vintage sparkle' wedding garter! Fine vintage lace is placed over luxury satin, gently gathered and sprinkled with crystals. They can be custom made to your own colours or are available in blue or ivory from stock.
Similar to the wedding dress labels, these beautiful personalised wedding garters are exclusive to www.silkgarters.co.uk. You can have your wedding garter embroidered with your names and date, or just your new married name. A lovely heirloom to keep for years to come and show your own children when it’s their turn to tie the knot!

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Something New

For something new, it is tradition for the bride to wear new unlaundered underwear, this is to emphasise their acceptance of a new life.

Depending on your style of wedding dress beautiful bridal lingerie is sometimes best kept for the honeymoon... Whilst strapless moulded bra's and bodyshapers designed to fit smoothly under your bridal gown, in a wonderful range of skin tones from ebony to toffee and also bridal ivory and pure white, disappear under your wedding dress. 

Delightful wedding and honeymoon ranges of lingerie are available to order. Pictured is a blush pink garter set with a matching thong. A gorgeous gift in pure silk satin and cotton lace.

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Something Borrowed
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For the 'something borrowed, one item is usually worn belonging to a happy bride. This could be an item of jewellery, maybe something she wore for her own wedding. Although we have been asked to make separate little bags, to match the bride’s garter, like our sixpence bags to safely hold things like a grandmothers locket and a fathers wedding ring who had sadly passed on when his daughter was getting married. These traditions are a lovely way to make your wedding day truly special and personal to you…

Something Blue

'Something Old, Something New
Something Borrowed, Something Blue
and a Silver Sixpence for Her Shoe.'
blue of the rhyme signifies constancy

'Those dressed in blue have lovers true'

Pictured is our 'Something Blue' wedding garter....

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'and a Silver Sixpence in her Shoe'
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The 'silver sixpence in her shoe' was to secure future wealth for the happy couple.
 If you dont fancy having a sixpence in your shoe, you can have a tiny bag addedto your choice of wedding garter with a genuine old sixpence piece inside!

Yellow Garters superstition

Yellow garters were thought to attract a partner, remember Malvolio in 'Twelfth Night', cross-gartered in yellow ribbons to attract Olivia? 

Well, in the 19th century, an obliging bride would wear a yellow garter placed there by a hopeful girl-friend, looking for a husband. This was to ensure marriage for the friend within the year. One Boston bride went to the alter wearing 7 yellow garters all from hopefull friends !

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Valentines Day

In 19th Century London postmen claimed a special meal allowance to sustain them during the Valentines postal rush!

A Dozen Red Roses

More red roses are bought at Valentines Day than at any other time of year. A custom said to have begun in France when Louis XV1 gave his Queen, Marie Antoinette red roses on 14th February.

Leap Year

In a leap year women can traditionally propose to men. If rejected the girl can claim a compensatory silk gown!

Wedding Anniversaries

  • 1st.....Cotton                         15th...Crystal
  • 2nd.....Paper                          20th...China
  • 3rd....Leather                         25th.....Silver
  • 4th..Silk                                30th.....Pearl/Ivory
  • 5th.....Wood                          35th.....Coral
  • 6th....iron                              40th......Ruby
  • 7th ....wool                            45th.....Sapphire
  • 8th....Bronze                          50th......Gold
  • 9th....Pottery                          55th.....Emerald
  • 10th.....Tin                             60th.....Diamond         
  •                                              75th.....Diamond


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