Wedding Traditions Uncovered: Garter Toss & The 4 Somethings

The garter toss. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. I’m sure that most of us are familiar with these long standing wedding traditions, but where do they come from?

The garter toss actually dates as far back as the 14th century. It was thought that obtaining a piece of clothing from the bride would bring luck in love. Often times, the guests at the wedding ceremony would accompany the newlyweds back to their honeymoon suite to see that they made it safely to the bed to consummate the marriage. During this trip to the bedroom some guests would become eager to obtain a piece of clothing from the bride and they would actually rip pieces of her dress off! In order to avoid the foreseeable ransacking, the bride started throwing various items like her bouquet and her garter to her wedding guests. This was able to create satisfaction among the crowd and allowed the newlyweds to make it out of the wedding reception in one piece. Although the tradition still stands today, we use it as a form of fun instead of a way to make a quick getaway!

Baltimore Ravens & Purple Wedding Details by tPoz Photography

Photo: tPoz Photography via Baltimore Ravens & Purple Inspiration

Most recent wedding polls have shown that the tradition of the garter toss is slowly fading away, but another wedding tradition that is still very popular is “something old, something new, something borrowed & something blue.” This tradition is also known as the “four somethings.” The four somethings dates back to the Victorian era and is thought to be the key to a happy and prosperous marriage. Here is the breakdown of this old English rhyme:

Something old signifies keeping the bride’s family history alive as she begins her future with her husband, where she would traditionally take his last name.

Walker's Overlook Wedding by Priscilla Thomas Photography

Photos: Priscilla Thomas Photography via Walker’s Overlook Wedding

Something new is usually the easiest part of the rhyme to cover, because generally, the bride’s gown or jewelry are new items! Something new signifies the beginning of a new union with the bride’s chosen life partner.

Something borrowed is thought to signify a successful marriage and fertility with the new bride, and can be a variety of different items. Historically, the bride would obtain a piece of clothing from a close female friend or family member who is already happily married with children. It is an important part of the tradition that the chosen item is returned to its original owner or else it is not actually borrowed and will lose its value!

Something blue is the oldest part of this tradition. Believe it or not, white was not always the most popular color at weddings— It was actually blue! Blue is thought to be symbolic of purity and fidelity because of the Virgin Mary’s clothes in Christian art. Traditionally, the bride would incorporate blue into a hairstyle with a hairpiece or choose to have a blue garter. Some more modern ways to incorporate blue are to have your new initials monogrammed into your dress with blue thread or use blue nail polish; in some cases the bride has even gotten a blue tattoo!

Clipper Mill Wedding by Stevie T Photography

Photo: Stevie T Photography via Clipper Mill Wedding

The rhyme also used to include “and a six pence in your shoe.” This line of the poem is sometimes said and sometimes not; often with the line changed to “and a penny in your shoe.” This of course was to add a bit of luck, but is not typically carried out at weddings today— probably because it sounds awfully uncomfortable!

Whether you decide to make these traditions part of your nuptials or not, at least you can share the stories behind them with your friends over brunch! Happy wedding planning!

Antrim 1844 Wedding by Rachel Smith Photography
Maryland Carnival Session by Photos by Sarah Beth

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