Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.
No one loves a good rhyme more than I do. After all, like many little girls around the age of 10, I often found myself chanting these lines as I waltzed around outside and planned a pretend wedding to my once-upon-a-time fairy tale prince.
When it finally came down to the month before my real wedding some decade-and-a-half later, though, I found myself hastily chanting this chorus again while having no clue what items to use. Of course, my mother laughingly said it would be bad luck not to honor the rhyme’s requirements (especially since I’d chanted it so religiously as a little girl), so I had to come up with ideas – and fast!
Where exactly did the origin to this rhyme come from, what does each requirement actually stand for, and what items are traditionally used? Read on to learn!
Like many wedding superstitions and customs, we can thank the good old Victorian times for this little chant.
Something Old is meant to help the bride keep a piece of her family’s past with her as she heads into her future. Traditionally, a bride carries some family heirloom, such as a brooch, either attached to her dress or carried with her bouquet down the aisle. This also can be a fabric of some kind from a meaningful time. My grandmother (who is 93 years young) gave me a handkerchief of my great-grandmother’s to wear in the bodice of my dress, while my mother carefully cut a small portion of lace from her own wedding gown for me to wrap around the stems of my bouquet. I also carried a love note from my now-husband in a locket attached to my bouquet that he’d written me many years prior, all as my something old. In other words, you don’t have to limit yourself to one item!
Something New symbolizes a bright new future and hope as the bride enters a new chapter of her life. Traditionally, something new is a gift from either the groom-to-be or the bride’s parents. If you’re like most brides today, though, you’ll be wearing a new gown or shoes for your ceremony, so you likely already have this requirement fulfilled.
Something Borrowed represents a number of ideas. First, since something borrowed generally comes from a happily married woman in your life, it represents equally good fortune in your own marriage. Second, it shows that you will be surrounded by loving, helpful family members and friends throughout your married life. Traditionally, something borrowed is the garter of a happily married woman. (Just make sure you wear a separate tossing garter so hers doesn’t get thrown away!) This can also be jewelry of some kind, such as a ring or earrings. Perhaps the jewelry could be something the happily married woman wore on her own wedding day.
Something Blue represents fidelity and love. This part of the rhyme has the oldest ties to history. As you may know, white wasn’t a big color for weddings until the late 19th century – but blue was! Often associated with the Virgin Mary’s clothes in Christian art, blue has been associated with purity since the days of ancient Rome. This is also where the saying, “Marry in blue, Lover be true,” comes from. A blue ribbon in the hair is most traditional, but today’s bride tends to express this part of the rhyme via stitching inside her wedding gown or along the bottom hem, with her new monogram and wedding date embroidered in blue on the inside. I wore a sapphire blue ring for my something blue. (The insides of my shoes were blue, too, but that was just happy coincidence!) You can also dye your crinoline or slip blue! Click here for my directions on how.
The Silver Sixpence represents wealth or just plain good luck (as some Scottish traditions suggest). Be sure to put it in your left shoe, as tradition instructs!
Is it bad luck to skip one part or all of this tradition? Not likely. The only “bad luck” you may experience is missing out on the fun of following the tradition! It’s a nice way to take the opportunity to slow down and talk about the past with your family, revel in the happiness of what’s to come, gain advice from a happily married woman, add bridal blue to your look to complete your ensemble, and go on a “treasure hunt” (often online) with your friends for the elusive silver sixpence!
In other words, following this tradition is a great way to create new memories you’ll carry throughout your married life. I vote go for it – but don’t stress if you can’t meet all requirements!
Pearl Necklace Image courtesy of Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Gift Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Bouquet Image courtesy of Sharron Goodyear / FreeDigitalPhotos.net