More on “foot washing”.

I saw this at ChurchPop:

Husband Washes Wife’s Feet at Wedding Reception Instead of Tossing Garter: “You Deserve to Be Cherished”

How beautiful! Have you ever seen anything like this before?

Catholic speaker, podcaster, and television personality Stacey Sumereau shared an experience she had with her husband at her wedding reception – and the post went completely viral!

Instead of throwing her garter, her husband washed her feet.

Sumeraeu explained that “the garter toss signifies Eros,” which is “sexual attraction and a public hint of the private intimacy the newlyweds will enjoy.”

Her husband washed her feet because it signifies Jesus’ sacrificial love.

“Jesus washed his disciples’ feet the night before he gave his life for them on the Cross…Husbands vow to love their brides like Christ loves the Church.  To be the leader of our family is to be a servant.”


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  1. You know, the older I get, the more I realize how prevalent were some of the stupid things done in younger years; almost 90% of the weddings I attended (not my putative one, thankfully, I wanted nothing to do with ‘tossing the garter’) featured this salacious ‘ceremony’ accompanied by hoots and catcalls…how dignified (NOT) and seen in the light of age and hopefully wisdom to be foolish and inappropriate. (I was always accused of being a ‘prude’. So be it.)

    If I was ever to get married, to me, this is a totally appropriate and beautiful gesture that points out the calling of the vocation. I’m hearing more Catholic couples, perhaps as a sign of societal contradiction, are doing this rather than tossing undergarments around at the reception.

    Some things are meant to be a sign, others are better left to the privacy of a couple. We seem to have forgotten that.

  2. Why is the bride wearing sneakers with her wedding dress? They look terrible.

    As for the “public hint of the private intimacy the newlyweds will enjoy” that a garter toss symbolizes, such hints, whether for good or for ill, have been part of wedding feasts, even among Christians, for centuries. During the Middle Ages it was customary in some countries for all the wedding guests to troop up to the bridal bedchamber to tuck in the newlyweds, often with ribald jokes and later, loud music outside the window. Gross, yes, and I’m glad we don’t do it today.

    But even in my childhood in a more decorous age, the bride and groom were expected to change into travel clothes right after cutting the cake, bid farewell to the wedding guests, and rush off–to the accompaniment of cheers–to their honeymoon, leaving the guests to party on without them. The assumption was that the newlyweds hadn’t previously been sexually intimate and thus couldn’t wait to consummate their marriage. (Weddings do, after all, anticipate and celebrate marital fertility. ) This practice has fallen into near-complete disuse recently what with couples living together for years before their wedding day–and also the current custom of brides and grooms themselves paying for, and thus hosting, the reception. It used to be that the hosts of the reception were the bride’s parents, so it didn’t really matter that the newlyweds left early.

    As for Mr. Sumereau’s washing his bride’s feet at the reception, that looks pretty intimate in its own way to me. It should serve as a reminder of why it is completely inappropriate for a woman, especially a young woman, to have her feet washed by a man who is not her husband–such as the priest in the foot-washing ritual of Holy Thursday.

    And although having my own feet washed at my wedding reception wouldn’t be my cup of tea (I’m old-fashioned that way), I’m happy to see that Mr. Sumereau has characterized himself as the “leader” of his new household. Too many wussy Christians these days are embarrassed by St. Paul’s dictum that wives submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ.

  3. Hellenist says:


  4. Ages says:

    One of my cousins (Protestant) involved a foot washing ceremony in his wedding. It was a nice symbol; not as good as the unity candle (which seems to have fallen out of fashion) but better than a “sand ceremony” with its ambiguous symbolism.

    I also have not seen a garter tossed at any wedding I have attended in at least 5 years, which is also welcome.

  5. Simon_GNR says:

    I’ve never encountered garter tossing – it must be an American thing.

  6. THREEHEARTS says:

    mike hurcum writes
    Christ’s washing the Apostles feet, in the view of the Hebrews who let Him, was a baptism. to Jews who washed their feet whenever they entered a home or synagogue this was done to remove the dust of the road. that dust was symbolic, to the Jews, as representing the sins of the world. the first Pope to be called Peter by Christ, in the days before, when warned by his master of the separation that would occur, said wash me all over . Peter knew and had acknowledged whom Christ was. if you think, instead of denying this comment, ask this of yourself. Do you think Christ wanted His Body and Blood,which was to follow, to be unworthy and a sacrilegious offering by the apostles?

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    To paraphrase Bryan D. Boyle and Monty Python’s Holy Grail: chucking your bride’s undergarments around a crowded mead hall is no longer a basis for a system of matrimony.

  8. I’ll turn on comment moderation to keep the catty comments down.

  9. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If people don’t like the fertility symbols, just don’t do them. Every fresh new “substitute” also has connotations, so it is not like you can get away from it that way. Just leave it alone and have more food.

    but in this case, I think we have all read the Book of Ruth, so we should know what it means when a man is touching a woman’s feet, or vice versa. There is also a famous passage about how the Lord found Israel grown up and ready for love, committed a covenant act rather abruptly, and afterwards dressed her in new queenly clothes, after He cleaned her up including her feet. (At least in Latin.) So yes, very fitting for Christian marriage, but not because it removes eros. Hooboy, no.

    OTOH, you will find out which relatives are familiar with the relevant Scripture readings. And I suspect that the Irish song “The Spanish Lady” will get a lot of play. So if you are going to be embarrassed, just do a round of the chicken dance instead.

  10. JustaSinner says:

    We didn’t toss the bouquet either…I made it and wanted my wife to have it, not toss it like some trash.

  11. WVC says:

    I’m with the folks suggesting this is not the best substitute. To do things like this in a public ritual, especially one where it does not traditionally belong, comes across as sanctimonious, regardless of the intent. I don’t have a problem with the tradition of garter tossing, but if someone wants to exclude it I don’t have a problem with that, either. However, the point of traditions and social norms are to give people an idea of what is acceptable and normal when we’re all together in public. The second we start atomizing those traditions for personal preferences, we start losing that collective understanding. So when the next couple declines to use a wedding cake or food at the reception, saying they’ve instead donated the money to feed the poor, or the next couple foregoes tuxedos and wedding gowns for “humble” attire, so that they can be humble before God during the ceremony . . .etc. – at what point do we simply no longer have a collective tradition regarding weddings? At what point do we turn it into a competition for who can have the most holy wedding? Or the most original?

    The fabric of society depends upon strong families, and those depend on strong bonds between husband and wife, and that bond is forged as part of a public ceremony within that society. Traditions and norms, whether you like them or not, have a role to play, and we should not be cavalier about tossing them, be the liturgical or secular.

    So, in that context, I’m not at all surprised to find the bride wearing sneakers with her wedding gown.

  12. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Although the garter toss may be viewed as simply a universal custom the perpetuation of which helps to maintain the bonds in the community, I think a distinction or two should be made about
    customs like this one. Over many years of attending many, many weddings, I’ve observed that couples from families who are modest, dignified, and sincerely devout, invariably omit the garter toss.

    Now families and individuals who are generally modest, dignified, and sincerely devout, would tend to band together as friends and companions. If one couple in such a circle performed the garter toss at their reception, their doing so would certainly embarrass and distress most of the guests . . . thus damaging the social bonds among their circle.

    There are many subcultures with their own traditions and customs, some of which vary greatly from others. Most people focus their attention on how things are done among their own circle – their family, friends, and neighbors, not among society generally. And what’s done in one circle is going to be quite different from what’s done in another?

    Should there be a common social understanding of what’s acceptable public behavior? Sure. Whose customs and traditions should prevail? Mine? Yours? Who decides whose? Can of worms city. Best to let the circles decide for themselves.

  13. Susan C says:

    My husband and I were married in 2017. We skipped the garter toss and the bouquet toss. They are completely secular and didn’t represent us in any way. It isn’t the way we live. Why on earth would a modest bride want her husband’s first touch of her leg be in front of everyone? We also skipped the open bar in lieu of a cash bar dancing part knowing many of our family would overly imbibe and also would have wanted trashy music. Our reception might not have been they typical one, but we were able to talk to each of our guests together, and it ended early enough that we could still celebrate our marriage in the privacy of our home. Our reception was one in which we weren’t blushing or ashamed of anything the children present saw or heard. I made almost all of the food because that’s what we could afford. Perhaps parents used to pay for weddings but if it isn’t offered one can’t ask, and in my family the bride and groom have funded their own since the 40s, for better or worse.

    As to why she’s wearing sneakers, goodness. They’re blue and that’s what she picked.

  14. WVC says:

    @ Marion Ancilla Mariae II

    The garter toss is only one among many Western customs across multiple cultures to stress the physical reality of the marriage ceremony. The garter toss in particular, combined with the bride’s tossing of the flowers, is for single folks, not couples. Single men vie for the garter, and single women vie for the flowers, and the tradition (albeit tongue-in-cheek) is that the man who gets the garter will be next to wed and the gal who gets the flowers will be next to wed (not necessarily to each other). That’s an important part of the very foundational fabric upon which society is built – people looking forward to getting married in order to create families which sustain the culture.

    It’s interesting that we prudish Americans are proposing that the groom wash the bride’s feet (does the bride also wash the groom’s feet? If not, why not?) as a replacement to the tradition of the garter. The washing of the feet in this context is very much centered upon the couple that just got married – it in no way reflects the goal for the others attending the wedding – which is to see more and more couples get married to great strong, stable families. This is partially why I think it gives off a sanctimonious odor. I mean look at the American culture today – we have folks who put off getting married until their thirties, if then. The last thing we should be poo-pooing are traditions that squarely place the idea that marriage is the GOAL in the forefront.

  15. Susan C says:

    @WVC Perhaps you are interested in one of the new ideas then that definitely encourages weddings. In lieu of the flower toss, the bride prays with all the single women individually. We contemplated using this but praying for vocation instead of just spouse.

    Also, I apologize for my typos in my last post.

  16. WVC says:

    @Susan C – Forgive me if I was a little muddled in my previous posts. I’m not particularly a fan of the garter toss, nor am I trying to say weddings must include it. I’m just trying to offer some caution against the idea that we as individuals or as isolated couples should be recreating the traditions of the wedding ceremony as we see fit. Tradition, both secular and sacred, is an important link not only with our past but also with our current social identity. More often than not, they exist for a very good reason even if that reason is not readily apparent to us.

    For example, the idea of the bride individually praying with single women seems a little awkward, to me, even though it stems from an obviously holy intention. A wedding is a communal event – things that break the present community down into smaller components seem counter-intuitive to one of the important parts of the ceremony. And even if it worked well in one setting (like your own wedding), that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea in other settings or with other, different kinds of folks.

    At any rate – my point is to say that tradition (even secular tradition) is important, and cavalierly swapping it out with one’s own personal preferences can be problematic from a big picture perspective. We live in an age that is so desperate to seek novelty and personal preference over tradition that even roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving is becoming passe. If we can’t even stick with something simple and straightforward like that, do we seriously think we’ll be humble in the face of much more demanding liturgical and sacred tradition?

    Thanks – and have a good Thanksgiving.

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