For most guests at a wedding, the bouquet and garter toss can be the best part—especially if some of the guests are single. Today you will find the definition, history and tradition of a wedding garter. We’ll also dive into ideas for garter games you can use to spice up your wedding.

So, let’s start from the beginning…

Definitions & meaning

What is a garter?

The garter is a piece of clothing consisting of a narrow strip of fabric that is fastened around the leg to hold up stockings. In the 18th to 20th centuries, the garter was typically tied just below the knee, which is the slimmest part of the leg, to prevent the stocking from slipping down.

What is a wedding garter?

The bridal or wedding garter is a type of lingerie that is worn under the wedding dress. Typically, during the wedding reception, the groom will remove the garter from underneath the bride’s gown either with his hands or teeth and then toss it into the crowd.

What’s a garter toss dance?

A garter toss dance is a traditional wedding custom where the groom removes the bride’s garter and tosses it to a group of single men. The groom removes the garter from the bride’s leg with his teeth or hands. The man who catches the garter is said to be the next to get married.

Here’s the video with an example of a garter toss dance:

History & wedding tradition

The wedding garter has a long and fascinating history that dates back to medieval times. It was believed that owning a piece of the bride’s clothing would bring good luck, and guests would often try to take a piece of her dress or garter as a souvenir. In order to prevent this, brides began wearing garters that were then thrown into the crowd as a distraction during the wedding reception.

In addition to being a symbol of good luck, the garter was also considered a symbol of fertility and fidelity. In the past, it was common for the groom to remove the garter from the bride’s leg and toss it to the single men in attendance. The man who caught the garter was believed to be the next one to get married.

While the garter tradition remains popular today, it has also evolved to include more modern twists. Some brides choose to wear personalized garters featuring their initials or wedding date, while others opt for garters that match their wedding colors or theme. Additionally, some brides choose to wear two garters – one to toss and one to keep as a sentimental keepsake.

Garter toss games

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9 garter toss games to make your wedding memorable

If you’re planning a wedding and want to incorporate the garter toss into your reception, but are looking for some unique ideas, we’ve got you covered! From piñatas and blindfolds to games that involve the whole room, here are some unique garter toss ideas and games and ideas that are sure to add some excitement to your big wedding day.

Blindfold spun

To make it a garter toss with a twist, put on a song like the “Mission Impossible” theme song while the groom retrieves the garter. When the groom gets the garter, a circle of single men should form and the groom needs to be blindfolded. Then he should be spun around a few times and then he throws the garter into the circle of waiting men.

The winners get to dance

The two people who caught the garter and bouquet could partake in a dance in celebration of their good luck.

The garter dance off

Rather than having the groom begin his endeavor of taking off the garter, let him win the privilege to search under her bridal dress. Before the removal of the garter, the groom will have to dance to receive the approval of his bride—in front of everybody!

When the song and dancing is over, the bride gives a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Once attaining the seal of approval, the groom goes on a quest for the garter and then tosses it to the single men that are patiently waiting.

Switch the order

Why not mess with tradition a bit by changing the rules to the garter and bouquet tosses? Switch the recipients around—in other words, have the women get the garter and the guys catch the bouquet!

Blindfolded search

Let’s make it a bit challenging for the groom to retrieve that garter, shall we? Blindfold the groom and then line up the bride’s maids and the bride and let the groom search for his bride. When the groom finds his bride, then he can remove the garter!

Piñata garter

One idea is to put the garter inside a piñata, along with glitter, candy or other small items, and then blindfold guests can take turns hitting it with a stick to try and break it open and retrieve the garter.

More than a garter

For those who enjoy humor, here’s an idea to make the garter toss a memorable one for guests. Hide various objects under the bride’s dress, such as a rubber chicken, old newspapers, a bowling ball, stuffed animal or anything else amusing, before finally revealing the garter with a dramatic flourish. Here’s a video of nice example of this game.

Engage and honour

If you’re not comfortable with a garter toss and want to engage and honour your guests, present the wedding bouquet to the couple who has been married the longest, and the garter to the couple who has been married most recently.

Pass the garter

Pass the garter around while the DJ plays a song, with the DJ blindfolded so they cannot see who is holding it. When the DJ pauses the song, the person holding the garter is out of the game. This wedding garter game continues until only one person is left holding the garter, and they are declared the winner.

Garter toss songs

Garter toss songs are typically chosen to add excitement and energy to the garter toss portion of a wedding reception. These songs are often upbeat and fast-paced, with lyrics that are playful or suggestive. They are meant to get guests in the mood for the garter toss and create a fun and festive atmosphere.

In addition to setting the mood, garter toss songs can also help to make the garter toss more memorable. When guests hear the song again in the future, they may be reminded of the wedding and the fun they had during the garter toss.

That being said, it’s important to choose garter toss songs that are appropriate for your audience and in line with your personal tastes. You may want to consult with your DJ or band to help you choose the right songs that will get everyone on the dance floor and ready for the garter toss.

Here’s a list of 67 songs that are perfect to accompany your garter toss dance on your wedding day.

Questions & answers

Here’s a few most common questions and answers about the garter toss at weddings.

Do you have to do a garter toss?

No, you do not have to do a garter toss at your wedding. While it is a common tradition in many Western weddings, it is ultimately up to you and your partner to decide which wedding customs you want to incorporate into your ceremony and reception.

Why does the groom toss the garter?

The tradition of the groom tossing the garter dates back to medieval times when it was believed that owning a piece of the bride’s clothing would bring good luck. In the past, it was common for wedding guests to try and take a piece of the bride’s clothing as a token of good luck, and the groom would toss the garter as a way of distracting the guests and protecting his new wife.

What comes first bouquet or garter toss?

The garter toss typically follows the bouquet toss and is often seen as the male counterpart to the bouquet toss. However, it’s important to remember that the order of events at a wedding reception is ultimately up to the bride and groom, and many couples choose to modify or skip certain traditions to suit their preferences.

What is the purpose of the garter toss?

Historically, the garter toss was a way for the groom to protect his new bride from having a piece of her clothing torn off by guests who wanted a piece of her clothing as a symbol of good luck. Over time, it evolved into a playful and fun activity that adds some excitement to the wedding reception.

What to do instead of garter toss?

If you choose not to do a garter toss at your wedding, there are many other garter toss alternatives that you can consider. Here are a few ideas:

Bouquet toss

Instead of a garter toss, you could opt for a bouquet toss. The bride tosses her bouquet to a group of single women, and the woman who catches it is said to be the next to get married.

Anniversary dance

Another popular option is the anniversary dance, where all married couples are invited to dance and the DJ gradually eliminates them based on the length of their marriage until only the couple who has been married the longest is left on the dance floor.

Group dance

You could also get everyone up on the dance floor and do a group dance, such as the Macarena or the Cha Cha Slide.

Charity donation

Instead of a garter toss, you could make a donation to a charity that is meaningful to you and your partner.

Special moment

Use the time that would have been used for the garter toss to have a special moment with a loved one or perform a special act, such as singing a song or performing a dance.

Ultimately, the alternative that you choose will depend on your personal preferences and the overall vibe of your wedding. The most important thing is that you and your partner feel comfortable and happy with your decision.