Why do brides wear garters?

Updated March 16, 2017

A garter is a type of women's undergarment that has been worn for hundreds of years. While it is modernly associated with weddings, it has a rich history fit to enhance the meaning for any bride.


The first mention of a garter is in a Middle English story entitled "Sir Gwain and the Green Knight," in which the hero accepts the garter of his host's wife after resisting her temptation.


In the Middle Ages, it was customary for the family of the bride and groom to accompany the newlyweds to their wedding bed to ensure the couple properly consummated their vows, and as a symbol of this confirmation, took the bride's garter.

The Toss

After a few hundred years, couples began objecting to a lack of wedding room privacy and would instead throw the garter out the window of the room for the crowd to catch outside.

Good Luck

As time went on, people began associating a caught garter as a good-luck charm. Modernly, the idea of luck has become associated with being the next to marry.

Other Uses

In the early 20th century, garters were more commonly used as an alternative to girdles as a means of holding up stockings. With the invention of elastic, this use became obsolete.

Fun Fact

Garters were not always worn exclusively by women. The Order of the Garter was referred to and commonly known as the highest ranking of knighthood in many pieces of Chivalric Middle English Literature. Garters were believed to be used by these knights to hold together their armour leggings.

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About the Author

Ann White is a freelance journalist with prior experience as a Corporate and Business Attorney and Family Law Mediator. She has written for multiple university newspapers and has published over 300 articles for publishers such as EHow and Garden Guides. White earned her Juris Doctor from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.