You’ve probably heard of the wedding tradition where the bride wears “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” But have you ever wondered where this phrase comes from? And why is it so popular, anyway?
Today I’m here to fill you in on exactly where this catchy phrase got it’s roots and how modern couples are getting into the spirit of this old-time rhyme!
Keep reading below for more details on this tradition — you might just find some inspiration for you own special day!
- Origin: 19th Century, Victorian Era
- Location: English country, Lancashire
First, a brief history…
Did you know the original old English rhyme actually went like this: “Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and A Sixpence in your Shoe.”
Originating in the Victorian-era out of the English country, Lancashire, each item provided the couple with a different form of protection and good fortune. In an article by Claire Nowak for Reader’s Digest, she further explains each object’s historical significance.
She says: “In that time, the “something blue” was often a blue garter” worn under the bride’s dress. The “blue and old items protected the bride against the Evil Eye, a curse passed through a malicious glare that could make the bride infertile.”
The “something borrowed” was frequently “the undergarment of a woman who already had children.” Wearing this would confuse the Evil Eye and prevent the curse. It would also give good luck.
The “sixpence in your shoe” was for good fortune and prosperity.
“Something Old” today…
We’ve established that “something old” in Victorian times was all for warding off that dreaded Evil Eye. Now, the meaning is pretty different.
According to The Knot, this item represents “continuity” and can be anything from a family heirloom to something sentimental.
Below, a couple pays tribute to family members who have passed away by having their pictures framed and seated as guests. A bouquet of flowers wrapped with fabric (possibly from a mother’s wedding dress) and photos of loved ones in lockets further prove your “something old” doesn’t have to be worn.
In both the past and present, “something new” often represents optimism for the future.
A bride’s dress or gift from the groom is common; however, your something new could literally be anything (and yes, gifting yourself counts!).
While this item historically symbolized fertility, today it’s more about honoring a loved one or wearing something of sentimental value.
Your “something borrowed” could be a piece of jewelry like earrings or a pearl necklace. A bride could even wear a passed down dress or a friend’s veil. For the groom, they could borrow a watch from a grandparent, wear their father’s tie or a special pair of cuff-links.
Back in the day, wearing “something blue” was for deflecting the Evil Eye; however, today couples don’t have to wear blue to ward off evil spirits! Instead, the meaning of the color itself has become more important.
The color blue symbolizes “love, purity and fidelity.” Focusing on these values, couples now incorporate the color in new ways.
For instance, two grooms can wear different hues of blue or sport blue dress shoes. A bride can wear a blue dress or rock blue nails. Newly-weds can ride off into the sunset in a swanky vintage blue car. Really, anything is possible!
“Sixpence in your shoe”…
The British “Sixpence” historically brought prosperity to couples as they began their lives together. Today, that meaning is still relatively the same (with the added bonus of good luck!).
While the coin was actually decommissioned in the United Kingdom in 1980, brides hoping to keep the tradition alive can still buy one for their wedding online.
In the United States, a penny or dime is often used instead.
Overall, this tradition isn’t a mandate for a beautiful and prosperous marriage. There’s no pressure to incorporate all (or any) of these items into your wedding day. However, if you choose to include “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” into your wedding, there’s countless ways to re-imagine this old-time tradition and make it yours!