The Great Garter Debate.


I never even considered wearing a garter for W-day.

I can’t explain why exactly – the thought just didn’t cross my mind….perhaps there were just too many other fashion choices that took up my bride-to-be brain space.

Jewellery, shoes, to veil or not to veil, statement headpiece, the concern over whether fresh blooms in my barnet would wilt if we were ever lucky enough to have sunshine….(we did, they did, I couldn’t have cared less.)

I mean seriously, after everything that goes into planning a wedding, who has time to then contemplate the design of a sexy thigh adornment?



For those of you who don’t know where the tradition of wearing a garter comes from I’ve conducted some research and although as with all these types of things some information is conflicting, the most popular theory dates right on back to the dark ages and is the one I like best – so that’s what I’m going with folks.

Ahem. I shall begin.

After the wedding festivities had come to an end it was customary for guests to accompany the Bride and Groom to their bedroom to ensure their safety and to wish them well with regards together foreverness. It was apparently good luck for each guest to take a piece of the brides attire so….they did.

Apparently over time this process evolved into something altogether more raucous, with guests tackling the bride and literally ripping at her clothes in order come away with a piece of her outfit of choice. The garter (which at the time was used to hold up stockings) was thrown during the um….romp (?) and it was considered extremely good luck for the individual that caught it – they would be the next in line to say “I do”.

I’m guessing after time moved on and happy couples got fed up with their nearest and dearest gate-crashing their first night party, this whole “carry-on” turned into what is now more commonly known as the 21st century garter toss, initiated primarily by the groom.


Thing is, does this activity actually happen anymore at all? can’t say I hear of it very often, if ever.

And although I’m not exactly one for following traditions for the sake of it, a small part of me I think it’s a real shame when a little piece of history becomes almost obsolete.

Besides, you don’t need to throw your garter at anyone – I’m sure there are some of you soon-to-be-married out there who just like the idea of wearing something pretty and that perhaps remains a secret, something for just you and your future husband to enjoy.

And if you fall into this camp, you may want to consider some of the gorgeous garters from the new Jarretiére collection by List member Britten Weddings which have been used to illustrate this post.


Combining understated British luxury with French delicacy and featuring a select number of limited edition pieces, the Jarretiére collection draws inspiration from head designer Sarah-Jane Bates’ experience and time spent living and exploring Paris….ooh la la.

There are ten uber feminine designs, available in ivory, blush, silver blue and grey (the latter being my favourite – obviously.) Each piece from the collection has been made using the softest silks and delicate lace, and comes adorned with the finest crystals, pearls and Swarovski opals.

I know – fancy schmancey. And as well as being so pretty, the garters also come presented in a lovely luxury gift box which makes me want want one even more….I’m a sucker for perfect packaging.


This post has generally made me feel that little bit left out if I’m honest. But I’m almost four years married, so I guess it’s all a bit too late for me….or is it?

Are any of you lovelies contemplating wearing a garter for the big day? have you already bought one?….what made you choose your particular thigh candy?

Or do you just think it’s yet another thing to think about….that you could frankly, do without.

Feel free to correct my attempts at being a historian and share any amusing garter-esque escapades that may be entertaining.

Big Who Said Garters Were Just For Weddings Love

Charlotte xxx

Author: Charlotte O’Shea
Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.

33 thoughts on “The Great Garter Debate.

  1. Oh my gosh – this post couldnt have come at a better time! I personally think garters are crucial. I want something secretly beautiful hidden under my tulle for my new husband to find… I love the romanticism of them, but with the market seemingly taken up with either gypsey-wedding-esque ones, ones that look like your Great Aunt Mildred made them or ones that are SO beautiful and extortionately expensive it makes me cry (MillieICaro I’m lookin’ at you…), where does a girl find a gorgeous bit of leg candy without blowing her flower (or marquee!) budget on one? Any advice gratefully recieved… x

  2. I had (yip HAD, i’m a married now!!) a garter. It was from Agent Provocateur and matched the rest of my undies so I thought why the hell not. The bloody thing had a mind of its own though, fell down… TWICE. At one point (just before the signing of the register) my bridesmaid had to get down on her hands and knees and pull it back up – the poor Rev got more than he bargained for!!

    The ones in the post are beautiful. Specifically the grey ones. Obviously.

  3. These garters are just gorgeous! I attended a wedding at the weekend where the brides garter pinged off her leg mid-way during her Catholic ceremony – it went sliding across the floor towards the Priest – lesson learnt to ensure the garter is nice and secure! I love the tradition and would definitely embrace it – another excuse to shop for more accessories!

  4. @Charlotte Thanks love! In the end, to remove the risk of further embarrassment, my bridesmaid tightened it so much that I was sporting a nice bruise at the top of my thigh on the first 2 days of our honeymoon.

  5. I had a lovely M&S garter (yes really) when I got married about 2 weeks ago! Was a completely last minute purchase for my ‘something blue’ as it had a small blue ribbon. It was a little bit lacy with scattered crystal bits and was really pretty imo (plus v budget friendly). It stayed on all day (no ‘toss’) and I actually forgot about it so no circulation cutting off.
    I went to a wedding a few years back where the bride sat on a chair and the groom removed her garter with his teeth in front of everybody clapping him on – the father of the bride’s face was a picture to see.. suffice to say when I suggested this to hubby before our wedding he told me not to be crazy!! But it was a nice moment at the end of the day when he did finally see it!
    In hindsight I might’ve spent more time looking for even prettier ones – previously when I heard garter i would think of ladies on their hen dos wearing them 🙂 x

  6. I bought a garter last weekend! Found a really pretty Autograph one in M&S that has a little blue bow, lace and teeny tiny Swarovski crystals and it was under £10! I did spend a good few months looking at super expensive ones and lusting after several online, but as much as a I love the idea of a garter realistically it’s not an essential item and I just could not justify spending £££s on one!

    I’d rather have the extra pesos to go sail on a catamaran on our honeymoon!

  7. Awww congrats LynseyB! 😀
    I do have a garter, but I am worried about how secure it will be!
    It wasn’t top on my list of to-dos but I found it when browsing Ell & Cee after a feature on these very pages! I liked it because it really didn’t look like all the other garters you see. It is just a thin elastic with a cute art deco looking silver embellishment and a little tassle of blue!

    Now to hope it stays up! :-/ xx

  8. @Sarah B – my best friend and her husband did the same thing- which I remember being hilarious, I even have pictures somewhere (!)

    Glad yours managed to stay on until it was supposed to come off though 😉 x

  9. I was dead set against wearing a garter because I’m quite shy and the thought of people staring at me while my husband rips it off with his teeth, in a word terrifies me lol
    That is until I came across a lady on face book who hand makes AFFORDABLE (mine was £24 with pnp) garters and oh my!
    One min I was saying how nice one of her pictures was then the next we were discussing different types of laces, ribbons, beads and embellishments, even to the point where I had to go looking for THE perfect brooch to go on this garter that we had just designed together lol.
    Next thing I know I had paid for it lol and it was on the doorstep and WOW it is beyond what I thought it would be and as its made to measure it fits me like a glove or in this case a garter 😉 Defiantly my best impulse buy so far and something I can pass down to my girls for their wedding days.
    I still wont be doing the whole ripping off with his teeth thing tho …………well maybe not until were alone anyway 😉

  10. I wasn’t going to bother with a garter as I had other priorities, but my lovely sister (and bridesmaid) surprised me by making one for me from antique pale blue lace (something old and blue), satin ribbon and a little diamanté bow charm. I did wonder why she asked to measure my leg!! It’s so beautiful, I had to wear it on the day 🙂 It stayed up for the most part but did slip down when we went into the countryside for some photos. Luckily by then I had my wellies on so it was safe in my boot! I think it would have stayed up all day if I hadn’t lost an extra bit of weight through nerves just upto the big day. Maybe a bit of fashion tape or a blob of eyelash glue would have been a good idea

  11. Another just newly wed here! I really didn’t want to wear a garter for practical reasons, but was co-ersed into getting one by soon to be hubby, so just got a cheap one. Looked horrible (not like these lovelies!) On the morning of the wedding I was so busy with everything else I totally forgot about it. And hubby? Didn’t even notice because he was so entranced by my new lingerie! Haha there’s a lesson there!

  12. I have my Mum’s garter to wear on the day, as she had saved it along with her horseshoes (do brides still get those?) that she was given when she got married. It’s a bit 70’s but I really love the fact that my Mum wore it on her wedding day. There is even a picture of my Dad having a good look at the garter through and upturned glass!

  13. @Kitty – you could wear your garter on the catamaran 😉

    @Rebecca – Hmmm, I guess it’s a case of not so loose it might travel south, and not so tight you end up bruised like LynseyB!!! I once bruised myself with a corset but that is another story entirely….

    Charlotte xxx

  14. Hmmm these falling off stories worry me as mine feels a little loose too! Perhaps I will get Al’s mum to whack a few stitches in to make it tighter! I also will not be publicly revealing it or let Al anywhere near it with his teeth – he’s so clumsy he’d probably end up biting my leg instead of something!

  15. @bride and conquer – that’s what I think too – I’d like to wear them as it’s a fun tradition and when else am I ever going to get the chance, but my dress is pretty clingy on the hips and thighs and I’m worried it’ll show through.

    Also now paranoid about it falling down mid-ceremony a la LynseyB. Although the Rev is my Mother-in-Law-to-be – not sure if that makes it better or worse?!?!

  16. The garter ceremony definitely still seems to be popular at US weddings. My American friend had TWO garters – one for the garter toss and one just for her new hubbie to enjoy! The garter toss itself definitely can be a bit cringey as the bride sits on a chair surrounded by all her guests and the groom sticks his head up her skirt to find it!! But I do have fond memories of my sister’s boyfriend catching the garter (without realising the meaning behind catching it!) and then proudly wearing the garter on his head as a bandana for the rest of the night – my sister was mortified!!

    Whilst I may not embrace the garter ceremony with all my guests looking on as groomie goes for a rummage(!), I do already have a garter which my bestfriends gave me while we were at uni for my 21st – the idea was to use it to secure the engraved hipglass they had also given me for my birthday under my dress at our graduation ball. It worked a treat!! Although, I’m not sure if my wedding dress will accommodate a secret hipflask, I will definitely still be wearing my special garter as my something blue.

    x x

  17. I’m wearing a garter right now at Co-op Towers…but shush, don’t tell anyone, wouldn’t want to give anyone a coronary…


  18. Okay I’ve shared my garter tale before (ask @Lolly – I think I sent her a picture of it in all it’s glory)

    My garter is a something old, borrowed and blue and it’s straight out of 1974… Lee’s Mum’s very own polyester special adorned with a GIANT PLASTIC SILVER CHERUB.

    It really is a sight to behold. It’s hideous and amazing in equal measures and will probably itch like hell, but I’ll love wearing it.

    The thought of all my guests pouncing on me and tearing off my clothes… what the hell is that about?!

    Girls – is anyone going bare legged AND wearing a garter though. I am. Is that weird? xx

  19. I had a garter, but weirdly, it was more my mum’s choice than mine! I was at my final fitting and my mum just bought me one there and then… because “it was tradition”.

    I kept it one for the ceremony, but come the reception… off it came! I’m actually passing it on to one of my best friend’s as her something borrowed, and then to another friend after that, so now it’s got far more meaning and I’m pleased that I’ve been able to play a part in people’s ‘borrowed’ items!!


  20. @Karen I went bare legged with the garter. White stockings give me the creeps (sorry if I’ve offended anyone!) and as for those “natural” ones, they are up there with Lurpak Spreadable in the false claim stakes. Natural if you happen to be A) a corpse or B) Amy Childs!!

  21. @LynseyB – I did order a pair from Agent Provocateur in ‘ivory’… I am NOT wearing them! They are almost white!!! Also, my shoes are strappy… no no no no!! xx

  22. I have a lovely garter (handmade purchased from a lovely store on Etsy)…..but……it keeps falling down whenever I walk around with it on!! I don’t think it’ll last 2 minutes at the ceremony, and will probably end up on the floor halfway down the aisle!! Tres embarrassing! I do however like the idea of @lady fushia and I’ll try out the fashion tape idea, as I really love my garter!

  23. @Pamela – raunchy! I might wear one later in that case…just to make the dinner in. That reminds me…Mr O’Shea is supposed to be purchasing some fromage frais or there won’t be any dinner.

    Um…what kind of garter is it?

  24. @bride and conquer @rino – with you on the clingy dress. I do like upholding traditions, but VGL is a definite no-no, so no garter for me… The photos in the post look lovely though!

  25. My best friend got me a pretty garter which doubled up as my something blue and I forgot to put it on. I was gutted. I just felt it was a tradition I wanted to keep.

  26. LynseyB, Lisa and Lady Fushia – I think you have made my mind up for me – I won’t wear one through the day… but slip it on for the night!

    I am a massive lover of traditions, but not for traditions sake… The whole biting off and throwing in to the crowd makes me laugh – what a funny tradition!!

    Congrats to all the newly weds 🙂

    Nicola x

  27. I got married on Sunday and I had a lovely lace garter which I borrowed from a friend as my ‘Something Borrowed’ and it had a lovely pale blue stone attached, so that was also my ‘Something blue’
    We didn’t take any pictures of it, I’m far too shy to stand there with my dress up around my waist giving the photographer an eyefull!
    It was just my little secret and it was lovely. It didn’t budge once and stayed in place all day.

  28. Hey,

    I have just found this article on this blog to help decide what to do. I have had all offerings of other women’s garters in my family and close friends as ‘something borrowed’ but that feels a little strange to be wearing theirs. I wasn’t going to bother as I like a lot of the underwear I have seen without it. Then my husband to be mentioned the other night on our big day later in evening his mind will be wondering to my underwear and garter the piece of me that he will only get to see on the day. So everyone else to me still holds the garter up there as part of the event!!

    The ones featured are very pretty so maybe I will have one…. 🙂 Ax

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