Like tossing the bridal bouquet, the tradition of tossing the garter is rooted in the ancient belief that pieces of a bride’s attire can spread her good luck to the person who holds them (see "Why toss the bouquet?"). As a personal item, the bride’s garter is imbued with even more meaning than her bouquet, and should only be removed by the groom. In some traditions, the garter represents the bride’s virginal girdle, and the groom claims ownership of her body when he removes it. This proved a dangerous thought in some cultures, for drunken wedding-goers would attempt to claim the garter themselves and soil a bit of the bride’s chastity in the process. Thus the groom would ceremoniously remove the garter and toss it to his attendants or best man for safekeeping and distribution: it would be torn into pieces so that as many people as possible could receive a bit of the bride’s good fortune.
Today, the groom symbolically tosses the garter to show that he is throwing away his single life and embracing a married one. As the bride tosses the bouquet to her unmarried friends, the groom tosses the garter to the bachelors at the gathering. Traditionally, the man who catches the garter should put it on the leg of the woman who catches the bouquet, but this has made for some awkward exchanges. Instead, the two pose together for a picture and then share the dance floor with the newlyweds. Some believe that the lucky individuals who catch the bouquet and garter will be the next to marry (although not necessarily to each other!), but some just consider it a special memento of the wedding.