Old, New, Borrowed, Blue...Sixpence?
Updated: Feb 25
Something old, Something new, Something borrowed, Something blue, and a (silver) Sixpence in her shoe.
This bridal rhyme or poem refers to a wedding tradition for UK Brides during the Victorian Era. The rhyme provides the type of items the Brides (and now couples in general) should have in their possession during their ceremony for good luck.
Hi! My name is Coco Chantel Smith-Johnson and I love planning parties and weddings and have been doing so with my company Events in a Box, Inc since 2008. I am a planner by trade, a journalist by skill (or at least that's what my degree says), and historian at heart and I have a passion for learning about anything and everything pop culture. With the internet, any information you want is at your fingertips (literally) but the information is scattered across multiple sites. My goal is to create articles that will bring all this information together into one inclusive internet source (to the best of my abilities). Using the passions I have, I have scoured these internet sources to create a semi-comprehensive blog based on the information I have found... so you don't have to! Now back to the article...
I came across some interesting facts and information when I was doing my "research" on the history of the traditions which lay behind this bridal rhyme. For example, this rhyme has shown up throughout UK history in different writings.
The earliest known recorded version of the first two lines is in 1871 short story, “Marriage Superstitions, and the Miseries of a Bride Elect” in St James’ Magazine.
“On the wedding day I must ‘wear something new, something borrowed, something blue.'”
In an 1876 newspaper, the article stated the bride “wore, according to ancient custom, something old and something new, something borrowed and blue.”[
An 1898 compilation of English folklore it read,
In this country an old couplet directs that the bride shall wear:—"Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue."
The line "and a sixpence in her shoe" was an old Scottish custom and was added later.
By 1905, the full rhyme had crossed the Atlantic to the USA and appeared in the novel Purple and Fine Linen by Emily Post.
There are different interpretations of what each line means, I will cover a few of the different meanings.
“Something old” represents continuity with the couple's family and the past. It is also said that it provides protection for the future baby. There was a fear of the Evil Eye which was thought to cause infertility.
Some contemporary ideas for incorporating this: wearing a family heirloom, using an old poem in your vows, getting an old swatch of fabric from family members wedding attire (dresses, ties) or blanket and incorporate that into your attire or wrap it around your bouquet or boutonnieres. Or drive away (or arrive in) a vintage car.
"Something new” is optimism for the future and the new life ahead. You can use your dress,
tux, shoes, veil, embroidery of your new name in your attire or veil, you can even have new hair extensions. Just has to be new to you.
“Something borrowed” symbolizes borrowed happiness and good luck. It is good for the borrowed item to come from another happy bride or happily married couple so that their good luck rubs off on you. The old-fashioned superstition urged the bride to borrow the undergarments of female friend or relative in order to guarantee a happy marriage and healthy kids. I don't think you really need to go that far, but it's up to you.
“Something blue” represents purity, love, and fidelity. These are known as the qualities of a successful marriage. The color blue also used to ward off the Evil Eye. You may incorporate this color in your personal flowers (bouquet, boutonnieres) shoes, jewelry, ties, hankerchiefs to name a few.
"A sixpence in her shoe" a sixpence is a British coin and symbolized prosperity or acted as protection against evil. One source states this is is an old Scottish custom and it was the father who would place a silver sixpence in the Bride's shoe for good fortune It should be placed in the left shoe. This custom is not widely used today, but you could get creative. You can order sixpence online or just use a shiny penny. Ways to use these items, cufflinks, a necklace, locket, gifts.
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