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What Is a Garter Toss?

A bride traditionally tosses her garter after a wedding.
The groom removes his new wife's garter and throws it to a crowd of waiting women.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 06 July 2014
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A garter toss is a wedding tradition that many brides and grooms incorporate into their wedding day. It tends to go hand-in-hand with the tossing of the bouquet, in which the bride will toss her wedding bouquet into a crowd of all the single women at her wedding. Traditionally, the one who catches the bouquet is said to be the next to marry. A garter toss is similar, except it involves the groom tossing the bride's garter into a crowd of all the single men at the wedding.

The garter toss often takes place near the end of the wedding, right after the tossing of the bouquet. The bride will often sit in a chair in the middle of the dance floor, and the groom will take off the garter while a chosen song plays. The DJ will typically call all the single men to the dance floor, while everyone else stands in a circle around the dance floor to watch.

Some couples choose to take off the garter in a more discreet way, while others try to have fun and be a bit more raunchy with it. The groom may remove the garter with his teeth while the bride pulls her dress up, or he may just reach up underneath her dress to grab the garter. Another option is for the bride to remove the garter herself, and just hand it to the groom.

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Some brides may choose to wear two garters, one to keep for herself, and one to be removed for the garter toss. In that case, the bride will usually wear one garter further up on the thigh, and the other one closer to the knee so it is easier to remove. The method used to take off the garter is completely up to the couple. The groom will then turn around and, with his back to the crowd of single men, toss the garter into the crowd. The man catching the garter is believed to be the most likely to wed next.

The wedding photographer will likely want to get a few photos of the bride and groom, along with the man and woman who caught the bouquet and garter. They might also be asked to dance together. Though a garter toss can be a fun addition to a wedding, it is certainly not a requirement, and the decision is completely up to the bride and groom whether they want to add this tradition to their special day.

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Discuss this Article

starrynight
Post 11

@ceilingcat - You'd be surprised. I think there are more marriage-minded men out there than you would suspect.

As far as the garter toss, I do think it's a little silly. However, the history of it is kind of interesting. Back in the days when a wedding needed to be "consummated" to count, people would stand outside the bedroom and wait for some type of sign. Often the groom would throw some type of undergarment out as proof of the consummation!

ceilingcat
Post 10

When my step-sister got married they did a garter toss. After witnessing it, I don't think I will do one at my wedding! After the guy caught the garter, he was supposed to put it on the girl who had caught the bouquet. I think it just looks extremely tacky, and doesn't really serve a purpose, except maybe to embarrass the lady who caught the bouquet.

Besides, I don't think most guys would object. After all, usually it's women that are more interested in marriage and catching the bouquet!

sunshined
Post 9

I have always enjoyed the throwing of the bouquet and garter toss at weddings. It is fun to watch the young children and see them get caught up in the excitement of it all.

When my best friends daughter got married, they had what was called a garter toss dance. The lady who caught the bouquet and the guy that caught the garter would dance together.

Sometimes this is quite an interesting combination and always makes for a good time no matter who catches them.

SarahSon
Post 8

A garter toss is always a fun part of the wedding reception - especially if there are a lot of young, single men there.

It seems like when I go to weddings that are second marriages, I don't often see a garter toss being done. They are much more popular with younger brides and grooms who have single friends close to their own age.

I am always amused when someone who is completely unexpected to get married any time soon catch the garter. At my sisters wedding the man who caught it was a confirmed bachelor and he wasn't all too pleased about the garter being tossed his way.

Everyone got a good laugh out of it, and he still hasn't married, but we haven't given up hope.

OeKc05
Post 7

When my best friend was planning her ceremony and reception, she decided to have a brown satin garter. It reminded her of chocolate, and the satin material coated the elastic, so it was comfortable enough that she could forget she was wearing it.

To add something extra to the garter toss, once her husband removed it, he dipped it in the chocolate fountain before throwing it. The rule was that the men had to try to catch it in their mouths.

It got kind of messy. Two men knocked their heads together trying to catch it, and chocolate slung all over their faces. Another guy saw that they were about to collide, so he quickly bent down in between them and opened his mouth. He caught it without much effort at all.

shell4life
Post 6

My brother married a lady whose mother was very reserved. His fiancee had considered cutting the garter toss out of the wedding, but he insisted. He wanted his best friend to catch it, so he talked her into it.

She had no idea how he planned to go about retrieving the garter. If she had, then she definitely wouldn’t have gone along with it.

When it came time for the garter toss, he had the band play a slow, smoky song. He pushed her down into the chair, pulled up her dress slowly, licked her leg, and grabbed the garter by wrapping his tongue around it.

We heard a gasp, and the bride’s mother about passed out. My brother’s wife was so mad at him!

Oceana
Post 5

My husband and I had a Celtic band play traditional Irish music at our wedding. We both loved the instruments, like the tin whistle and the violin, though we weren’t familiar with many of the songs.

For the bouquet and garter toss songs, we had requested that they play something happy and playful. I still don’t know the names of the tunes, but I remember that they lightened the mood and made it less embarrassing.

Afterwards, the bouquet and garter catchers had to dance together. The song the band played for their dance was a mixture of the two songs played during the tossing. It was very lively, and everyone had a good time.

Perdido
Post 4

I had a friend help me plan my wedding. I trusted her to pick out the decorations, flowers, food, and even the garter. I was kind of on the fence about whether or not to even have one, but since she had gotten one, I figured I should give it a try.

After I had gotten into my wedding dress, I pulled the garter up over my thigh. It was scratchy and tight. I told her that I couldn’t bear to be uncomfortable while taking my vows, because I wanted to memorize those moments forever. She understood, and no one was upset that we didn’t do a garter toss.

Sunny27
Post 3

@SailorJerry -I had a garter toss at my wedding and it was really fun. Everyone laughed and had a good time. It was more like a funny garter toss than a sexy one. There a lot of garter toss songs for weddings that really draw in the crowd and make everyone feel like they are part of the event.

I love the James Bond theme as a great garter toss wedding song. A song like that will make everyone laugh and allow everyone to have fun while watching the garter toss. Garter toss music should be kind of fun in a sexy way. You can also use the song “You Can Keep Your Hat On” by Tom Jones which is also perfect for this occasion.

SailorJerry
Post 2

@Kat919 - I'm sure a lot of people still do it, but anecdotally, I wonder if it's less popular with older brides and grooms, who are now the norm. It sounds like you and your sister may have been the first of your friends to get married and maybe you were a little younger? And are your friends from the same part of the country as you, or are they people you met in college?

Some people, frankly, find the garter toss to be unbearably tacky and frankly a bit embarrassing for all involved. I always enjoyed them and I miss them! (Now, the cake smashing I've always thought was stupid, but I guess that's just personal taste - everyone has things they like and things they think are tacky!)

Kat919
Post 1

Is the garter toss tradition going by the wayside? My sister and I both had them at our weddings, which were fourteen and ten years ago, respectively. But we were talking the other day and realized that neither of us has seen one in a while as our friends have been geting married.

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