Taking your first steps as a child are a big deal, so are the ones you and your spouse take together as newlyweds. Who wouldn’t want to step off on the right foot into a lifetime of marital bliss? It’s not the actual steps one takes at the reception that matters (though knowing how to walk in high heels under layers of tulle is a feat unto itself); it’s how the Master of Ceremonies introduces the couple that makes a big difference.
During a medieval tradition called the bedding ceremony, the bride and groom were escorted by the groomsmen to the newlywed bedchamber. Since any piece of the bride’s garment was considered lucky with the garter as the crème de le crème, the men would subsequently scuffle with the bride to remove the garter. As a result, the bride started preemptively throwing it away. And thus the garter toss tradition was born because who doesn’t like a good ‘ole medieval groping?
Obviously, the garter is an erotic symbol, yet women throw asexual flowers. During the wedding game, brides shyly laugh and try to push the groom out of her undergarments, whereas the groom seeks the treasured garter using his sexual prowess. Imagine reversing the roles, with the bride sexually aggressive and tossing some tighty whities. Seems raunchy right? It’s a complete double standard to how men and women are allowed to treat sex, yet it’s accepted and practiced at nearly every wedding without a second thought.
Many a fair maiden has pranced around in a garter. It’s a fun, frilly piece of lace meant to be sexy and flirtatious. Other than Victoria Secret models, no one really wears them for functional reasons like holding up your pantyhose and knickers. It serves no practical purpose anymore; instead, promoting the notion that purity and virginity are present, but that the wearer has a friskier side. A perfect cat and mouse chase. Removable chastity.
There are creative possibilities to rethink the tradition more fairly and appropriately without abandoning the garter completely. Consider keeping it private and solely for the wedding night. Removing the garter can be quite the sensual act and will definitely be more fun to keep going without an audience waiting to dance the funky chicken. It could be relegated to a Jack and Jill party where guests will be close friends from the same generation who accept the sexuality of the garter removal and toss. Or for the couple who decides to keep the tradition, think about incorporating something equally sexual for the bride; say, removing her husband’s bow tie with her teeth – that would be talent – or if the couple is very bold, reverse the roles completely now that would be an evocative and witty message.