If you’re questioning whether to include the garter toss in your wedding reception, you’re not alone: The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study found that only 33% of to-be-weds were planning on incorporating the garter toss into their wedding, down from 41% in 2016.

Much of the decline is due to couples’ aversion to the overtly sexual tone of removal in front of their friends and family. 

Per tradition, the groom typically removes the bride’s garter sometime during the reception, usually by ducking under her dress and making a show of pulling it down with his hands or teeth. The bride typically dons the toss-away garter right before the toss or wears it below a more formal garter reserved for her partner. 

Modern brides typically wear the garter a few inches above the knee to make it easier to remove without showing too much skin to friends and relatives, according to BrideBox.com. This also makes for more tasteful photos. There is no particular leg that is more common for garter wear so brides most often choose whatever is most comfortable. 

The garter toss has an interesting history beginning with the medieval belief that obtaining a piece of a bride’s wedding gown would bring good luck, according to BrideBox.com. This led many women to literally rip a bride’s dress to shreds to possess a piece of the precious fabric. 

Eventually, brides began wearing a bridal garter to supply guests with a piece of the dress without damaging it. 

The newlywed couple would also provide the garter to family and friends as proof of the marriage’s consummation. These stakeholders would wait outside the bedroom, often heckling the couple, until the groom provided the prize. Eventually, the groom began the more discreet practice of tossing the garter to guests prior to entering the bedroom, according to Reader’s Digest. 

Bottom line: It’s YOUR wedding. If you enjoy the garter toss, tradition go for it! But if not, don’t feel pressured to include it for the sake of “tradition.” If you do choose to a garter toss, check out or song recommendations in our blog, “Top 10 Bouquet and Garter Toss Songs.”

And to learn more about how brides are “bucking tradition” by reading about whether white is always right in our blog, “Bucking Tradition: Wearing White.”

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