Why I’m NOT Having a Garter Toss – Garter Toss Alternatives

The garter toss is one of those traditions that is going away and for good reason. In fact, most people are skipping the garter toss and replacing it with something else. Therefore, finding garter toss alternatives has become very popular.

garter toss alternatives

I’ve never really understood why brides would go through the embarrassment of having their brand new husband go up their dress and retrieve a useless undergarment with his teeth, only to toss it to an awaiting crowd of single men. In my honest opinion, it’s one of the stupidest and most awkward wedding traditions.

However, if you want to have a garter toss, there is not shame in that either. In fact, there are some great places to find a beautiful garter belt, such as Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and more! There are some really lovely garter belts that you can buy … you could even check out Etsy for custom options that match your wedding theme and colors.

Origin of the Garter Toss

According to Carl Holliday, in his book Wedding Customs: Then and Now written in 1919,

The time is at hand for the guests to depart. The brides-maids start with the weary bride to the wedding chamber when suddenly the cry arises, “Get her garter!” For from time immemorial the custom had prevailed for some male guest to secure this a bit of bridal ribbon. If the woman has been thoughtful, she has fastened it loosely to the bottom of her dress so that it drags in plan view of the scrambling ruffians; if she has not been a wise virgin, she may find her clothes in rags after the struggle.

Wedding Customs: Then and Now, Carl Holliday

Just as the bouquet toss is meant to give good luck to the single maid who catches it, the garter toss means good luck for the single guy who catches it. It’s one of many awkward and embarrassing traditions, many of which have already died off.

Eventually, the garter toss tradition changed. The bride would quickly toss her bouquet to the single ladies and rush off with her groom to the bridal chamber. Once inside the garter would be removed and the groom would toss it out the door to the awaiting single guys.

Today, the garter removal/toss has become, in my opinion, even more embarrassing and awkward than the original tradition. The bride sits on a chair in the middle of the dance floor while the groom goes up her dress and removes the garter with his teeth. Say what?! All this in front of your closest family, friends, and children. “Why is Uncle John sticking his head under Aunt Jane’s dress?” Awkward, right?! Not only is this embarrassing for the bride but I think most guests probably find it a little embarrassing too.

Needless to say, this is a tradition that I will gladly be skipping at my wedding! Garter toss alternatives… here I come!

On the other hand, some ladies have chosen to continue the tradition but make it more fun and playful instead of provocative. The guy might come out pulling one of the never-ending ribbons like you see in magic tricks.

Or the bride might simply put the garter right at her knee so that it’s not as seductive. Others have blindfolded the groom and then switched out the bride for the best man (which is kinda cruel, don’t you think?).

10 Garter Toss Alternatives for Your Wedding

Here are ten garter toss alternatives that you might find to be a much better option for your wedding reception.

1) Toss a garter without the removal process. If you want the fun of a garter toss but without the embarrassment of the removal part, have a garter on hand that is for just this purpose. This way you don’t even have to wear a garter, there’s no seductive dancing or weird retrieval process. The groom can sling it to all the single guys, wrap it around a football and toss it, or whatever creative way you can think of.

2) Skip it and no one will notice. I’ve been to many weddings that didn’t even have a garter toss. Truthfully, I never even thought about it. Didn’t notice the absence at all and it was completely fine that they didn’t have it at all. I think most people probably find it embarrassing to witness anyway and will be relieved that you skipped is. As for the toss, most single guys probably don’t want to be in the spotlight for their singleness anyway so they’ll be just fine with no garter toss.

3) Have a co-ed bouquet toss. Instead of throwing your bouquet to just the single ladies, invite all single people out to the dance floor. Everyone can participate in the bouquet toss and join in the fun.

4) Have a football toss instead. This might be better if you have an outdoor reception, but you could skip the garter all together and simply have a football toss. Whoever catches it will traditionally be “the next one to marry”.

5) Have an anniversary dance. This is a fun way to honor those who have been married the longest. All couples should get on the dance floor while one-by-one the DJ counts up in years – five years, ten years, fifteen years and so on – asking couples to stay if they’ve been married longer than the year called. The couple on the floor the last gets a prize and starts of the next dance.

6) Hide a prize in a balloon. Have a balloon drop where one of the balloons is holding a prize. As the balloons drop all the single people (or everyone who wants to participate) pops as many balloons as they can until they find the prize. To make it even more fun, put something in every balloon so that it’s more difficult to tell which one has the prize.

7) Toss something to the kids instead. Make it a little fun for the kids by leaving the adults out and tossing a stuffed animal with a $20 bill attached. This will keep kids entertained and be a lot of fun for the adults to watch.

8) “Jump the Broom” limbo stick. “Jumping the Broom” is an African American wedding tradition where the bride and groom jump over the broom at the end of their wedding ceremony to signify “sweeping away” their single lives. You can then use that broom as a limbo stick at the reception for the single people and whoever wins gets a prize (or the garter).

9) Have a candy toss for kids and kids-at-heart. Fill a vase, bowl, basket or something full of candy and throw it out for all who want to participate. Everyone can have their piece of the prize.

10) Have the groom throw his boutonniere. Just like the bride throws her bouquet to the single ladies, have the groom throw his boutonniere to the single guys.



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What to Do With Your Garter If You Wore It But Didn’t Toss It

Maybe you decided, for tradition’s sake, to wear the garter but you decided to user one of the garter toss alternatives instead of the garter removal and toss. What do you do with it now?

The first, and probably most obvious answer, is to save it as a keepsake. Many brides like to save little mementos from their wedding as a keepsake memory. These things often include the garter, bouquet, veil, unity candle, decor, etc. Your garter is a perfect little keepsake to remember for a long time.

You could also pass it along to someone else who would receive it in a meaningful way. Maybe the garter was passed along to you from your mother, you could save it to pass along to your daughter someday. Maybe you’re the first in a line of sisters to get married, you could pass it on to the next sister to get married. Maybe you’re the first of your college girlfriends… you get the idea. 🙂

Another really neat idea is to put all of your accessories in a keepsake box with a letter that you’ll give to your daughter someday. This would make a very special gift for your future daughter’s wedding. Many women like the idea of wearing something that was their mother’s.

You could even showcase it by hanging it from your man’s rearview mirror to remind your spouse of you when he drives to work every day.

Gather all of your accessories and create a neat shadow box that can be displayed in your bedroom. This preserves the items from dust but also allows you to display them instead of hiding them in a box under your bed.

If You Do Decide to Have a Garter, Here’s What You Need to Know

What leg do you wear the garter on? A garter is traditionally meant to hold stockings up, so you can wear it on whichever leg you want. Pick whichever leg it feels most comfortable on.

Where do you wear a garter on your leg? The garter should be worn around the middle of your thigh or just above the knee. If you plan to have one toss garter and one garter to keep, place the toss garter lower than the keeper.

How to keep wedding garter up? If you’re afraid of the horror of your garter falling off in the middle of the ceremony, there are a few things you can do. Put some double stick tape under the garter for it to stick. Or you can simply buy an elastic one or an elastic lace garter that will stretch fit.

What size wedding garter do I need? You should measure around the part of your leg where you want to wear it. This is the measurement you’ll need to get the right size garter.

What are wedding garter sets? A wedding garter set simply includes two garters. The main garter which you will keep and a second garter that matches but doesn’t overshadow the main. The second garter will be used for the garter toss.

Where to get a wedding garter? The easiest way is to simply ask your seamstress to use material that she cut from the bottom of your dress to make a garter. You can also get one from most craft stores or on Amazon.

Who buys the wedding garter? Anyone can buy the garter. The bridesmaids might want to get it as a gift or maybe the bride wants to treat herself. It might also be a family heirloom that gets passed down from mom.

How does the groom take the garter off? Traditionally the garter is removed during the reception. He can simply remove it with his hands or if he’s more daring he can remove it with his teeth.

Best Wedding Garter Toss Songs

  • Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
  • Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins
  • Hot in Here – Nelly
  • Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top
  • Legs – ZZ Top
  • Foxy Lady – Jimi Hendrix
  • James Bond Theme Song – Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen
  • Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  • Let’s Get it On – Marvin Gaye
  • U Can’t Touch This – M.C. Hammer
  • Who Let the Dogs Out – Baha Men
  • Brick House – The Commodores
  • The Pink Panther Theme – Henry Mancini
  • I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred
  • James Bond Theme Song – John Barry and the London Symphony Orchestra
  • Yeah – Usher
  • Bad to the Bone – George Thorogood and the Destroyers
  • Mission Impossible Theme – Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen
  • You Sexy Thing – Hot Chocolate
  • Beat It – Michael Jackson
  • Maneater – Hall & Oates
  • Baby Got Back – Sir Mix A Lot

Final Thoughts…

Whether you decide to have a garter toss or go with one of the garter toss alternatives, it should be a decision that both you and your husband are comfortable with. Some decide that it’s a silly tradition that really doesn’t make any sense anyway, so it’s not worth keeping it. It’s your wedding reception and it’s completely up to you!

The same goes for the bouquet toss. If you decided to skip one or both of these traditions, it’s unlikely that anyone will complain or even miss it.

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