Toss a Garter or Two

The tempo of the music begins to rise. Drums begin to throb. The bride and groom rise. Yet another ritual begins. Removing the garter from the bride's usually hidden leg.

If she's lucky, the garter will be removed with decorum and tossed among the bachelors waiting patiently nearby. If the wine and hard liquor has been flowing lavishly and abundantly for the past five hours, some sadistic youth will grab the groom, tie his hands behind his back with the tie which, a minute ago was around the groom's neck, and force the groom to remove the garter by the only means available to him. His teeth.

While there's a lot of grinding of guests' teeth at this unpalatable bit of ribaldry, the action is pretty close to what would have happened couple of hundred years ago.

When it came to weddings in days gone by, guests viewed the bride and groom very much like today's fans view their favourite movie stars. In "Singing in the Rain", Gene Kelly had almost his shirt torn off him by frantic fanatical fans. This scene could very well represent what happened at some of those wild weddings of the past.

Trying to anticipate, the well to do bride and groom would come prepared. Their pockets might be filled with gold coins to throw at the more boisterous of the guests. There were also gifts of kid gloves for the more refined. The bride might even stick bits of ribbon, lace and flowers over her clothes for those guests who had a tendency to grab at anything that looked as if it could be detached with ease.

But when all that could be given was given, and the hordes still bayed for more, than the bride had better be nimble and quick with those garters, or else she might be disconcerted by the number of foreign hands crawling up her leg.

It was no use for the bride to appeal to them with, "Look, just take one, OK? I'd like to keep the other one as a memento of the wedding." No. It was fling one garter as fast as she could, and remove the other one while the men scrambled for the first one.

By this time, running as fast as she could, she might reach the steps of the carriage. With one last mighty heave the other garter, like Atalanta's golden apple, would sail through the air to slow down those insatiable guests, long enough for her to jump in the carriage and away.

And they talk about the good old days!

Vlady, an Australian Civil Marriage Celebrant, is an author of "The Complete Book of Australian Weddings", "The Small Organsiation Handbook" and an ebook "Honeymoon! A Sizzle or a Fizzle?" which you can see on her website

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