Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue: Unpacking Wedding Tradition

  • Publication date: 03/29/2024
  • Updated: 03/30/2024

As the wedding day approaches, brides-to-be ponder the significance of a certain rhyme: "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." This quaint verse highlights items of great meaning that many brides for generations have incorporated for good luck and blessing. Let's explore the history behind this cherished wedding tradition.

The Origin of “Something Old, Something New…” Saying

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The full wedding day rhyme advises "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe." Each poetic line highlights a special item heavy with tradition. The "something old" represents an heirloom linking the bride to ancestors of yore. "Something new" symbolizes hope and a bright future for the wedded couple. "Something borrowed" conveys borrowed happiness from the lender to bless the bride's journey. Lastly, "something blue" stood for fidelity and steadfast love.

Wearing these symbolic items enabled the bride to carry the blessings of friends and family with her, while also honoring timeless wedding traditions. For many brides today, this remains a meaningful ritual to prepare for marital bliss.

“Something Old” for the Bride: Explained

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For brides across generations, finding the perfect "something old" accessory or detail holds special significance. This tradition represents continuity with the bride's family and heritage as she starts a new chapter.

Often, brides choose a piece of jewelry, like grandmother's pearl earrings or a vintage brooch from mom. Something old can also be incorporated through fabric from a family wedding dress sewn into the new gown or veil. Other ideas include wearing old medals from ancestors or carrying a great-grandmother's lace handkerchief.

Having this symbolic heirloom item feels like bringing a bit of family history and love along on the journey ahead. It connects a bride to the women before her, reminding her of the strength in her roots as she plants seeds for the future. For many, something old is the most nostalgic part of the saying.

“Something New”: Explained

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Beginning a new marriage requires optimism and hope - exactly what "something new" represents in the bridal saying. Alongside time-honored traditions, brides also look ahead to bright tomorrows.

Finding that perfect "something new" for her wedding day is a chance for the bride to express her personal style. Modern brides often choose a new gown or accessories to match their vision. It may be dazzling jewelry picked just for the occasion, stylish shoes to dance the night away in, or a wedding-day fragrance to be remembered by.

"Something new" can also have sentimental meaning through gifts from the groom such as a piece of bridal jewelry or monogrammed handkerchief. No matter its form, this item symbolizes the couple's faith in new beginnings and the uniqueness of their relationship. For brides, something new represents joy, optimism, and individuality to start the marriage.

“Something Borrowed” for the Bride: Explained

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"Something old, new, borrowed, blue" - this traditional wedding rhyme advises including "something borrowed" and this custom has a beautiful significance. Borrowing an accessory or other item from a happily married friend or family member is meant to pass on their marital happiness to the new bride.

Often this is a piece of the lender's own wedding outfit, like a bracelet or brooch from her special day. Other options include a favorite handbag, elegant scarf, or glittering hairpins. The friend or relative's enduring marriage brings powerful symbolism of fidelity, prosperity, and joy to bless the bride's journey ahead.

Carrying, wearing, or including this "something borrowed" on the wedding day is a way for the bride to keep loved ones close, both in body and spirit. It also forges a new bond between friends or generations of women in a family, connecting blissful memories past and present.

Wedding Tradition of 'Something Blue': Explained

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But where did this tradition of wearing or carrying "something blue" originate? Historically, the color blue represented purity, fidelity, and faithfulness. As a result, it became a popular choice for brides through the ages.

There are so many ways brides today can incorporate "something blue" into wedding day looks. Jewelry like sapphire earrings or a necklace are classic choices. Brides may opt for a belt, handbag, or shoe in shades of blue. Many tuck a blue ribbon or handkerchief into their bouquets as a traditional "something blue" item.

Others get creative and add blue embellishments to the garter, wear blue nail polish, or have florists incorporate blue blooms into arrangements. A touch of blue on the wedding day is widely seen as lucky, also symbolizing the bride's commitment and everlasting love. For many brides, it remains a "must-have" for old-fashioned good fortune.

The Meaning of "Sixpence in Your Shoe"

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The traditional wedding rhyme ends with "...and a sixpence in your shoe." But what does this curious custom represent? Tucking a silver sixpence coin into her shoe was commonly practiced by brides in Victorian England and beyond.

The shiny sixpence symbolized wealth and prosperity for the newly married couple. Some thought its true luck came if the coin was one borrowed from or gifted by a happily married woman. The idea was that with this coin in her shoe, monetary fortune, and comfort would follow the bride as she embarked on her new married life.

While not as widely practiced today, some modern brides revive this tradition. It is easy to see why: who wouldn't wish for a touch of good financial luck? For brides seeking time-honored rituals, adding this meaningful "sixpence" can be a symbolic way to wish for a life of health, wealth, and happiness together.

Borrowed, Blue, Old, New FAQs

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Something new, something blue - these timeless wedding traditions inspire many questions for brides looking to include meaningful details. Let's explore some frequently asked questions about these special items.

What are some creative "something new" ideas for brides?

Brides can get very creative with their "something new"! Some fun ideas include: a garter in your wedding colors, personalized hangers or robes for getting ready, a ring dish or jewelry box to hold your new rings, or even new perfume or nail polish in signature scents. The key is choosing something that represents your style as a new bride.

Should "something blue" be my only blue item?

Not necessarily! While "something blue" is a special tradition, it doesn't have to be your only pop of blue. Many brides incorporate blue accents throughout wedding details like invitations, flowers, and decor along with a special blue accessory or two. Coordinating different shades can really complement your color palette.

Who gives the bride "something blue?"

There are no hard rules, but often it's the bridesmaids or maid of honor who gifts "something blue." The bride's mother also may present her with a handkerchief or piece of ancestral jewelry as her "something blue." Some brides buy or borrow something blue themselves to make sure it fits their vision. It's about personal meaning more than the giver.

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Should I wait until the wedding day for my "something new?"

It's up to you! Some brides do wait until the wedding morning for their "something new" reveal to guarantee that new-day excitement. However, others try on their new accessory ahead of time for a perfect fit. If you want the 'wow' factor of seeing it for the first time on your wedding day, waiting can be magical.

What if I want to borrow more than one item?

No problem! The "something borrowed" tradition doesn't limit you to just one thing. Feel free to borrow a "blue" item from one person, an accessory from another, and even incorporate borrowed elements throughout your look. The more shared love and happiness from special people, the better!

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Natali Grace Levine Editor-in-Chief

Manages The Wezoree's content strategy
Writes and edits articles for the Inspiration Blog