Any single man who’s attended a wedding has likely stood in a circle of other men without wedding bands and tried to catch the bride’s garter, recently removed from her leg by the groom. Where did this custom come from, and why do we still toss bits of the bride’s underwear to single men in attendance at the wedding?
There are two schools of thought on the origination of the garter toss. The first holds that at one time, wedding guests considered taking a piece of the bride’s clothing from the wedding to be good luck. Apparently, brides were often subjected to the ignominy of having their dresses torn to pieces by good-luck hunting wedding attendees. They took to throwing pieces of clothing to their guests to prevent them from taking them by force.
The second school of thought has to do with the proof of wedding consummation. This idea holds that the display of the stocking or garter served as proof that the bride and groom had done their marital duty and consummated their marriage. The garter toss lives on as a holdover.
Either way, the garter toss of today’s wedding supposedly predicts the next man to marry, and while we don’t often see garter catchers marrying the woman who catches the bouquet, stranger things have happened.