The wedding tradition of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” has been around for hundreds of years. Many brides have been asked on their respective wedding days if they have gathered something old, new, borrowed and blue to carry with them as they walk down the aisle. The tradition of carrying or wearing one of each item is said to bring luck and fortune to the newly married couple. Have you ever stopped to think what the saying really means﹖ What is its origin and what does each item represent﹖
The original saying dates back to the Victoria times and states, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe.”
A bride may wear or carry something old to represent her continued ties to her family and her old life. Many brides wear a piece of family jewelry as their old item. Some brides wear the wedding dress worn by their mother or grandmother. In many cases, something old may also be something borrowed.
Wearing something new is supposed to represent success and hope in the bride’s new life and in her marriage. If the bride purchased her wedding dress new, it may represent her new item, but any item that is new may be used. Something “new” is usually the easiest category1 to fill.
The borrowed item should be something borrowed from a friend that is happily married. It is suggested that their happiness will rub off on2 you and bring lasting happiness to your marriage. Some brides borrow an item of clothing, a piece of jewelry, a handkerchief or perhaps a beaded purse.
Wearing something blue dates back to biblical times when a blue wedding dress was worn to represent purity, fidelity4 and love. Over time this has changed from wearing a blue dress to wearing just a blue band around the bottom of the bride’s wedding dress to modern times where it is commonplace for the bride to wear a blue garter5.
Placing a silver sixpence in the bride’s left shoe is said to be a symbol of wealth. This not only refers to financial wealth, but also a wealth of happiness and joy throughout her married life. Since most brides probably don’t even know what a sixpence is, this part of the tradition is not used very often in modern times. However, if a bride would like to include it in her wedding, she can purchase a silver sixpence from many companies that sell bridal supplies such as garters and invitations.
Some brides are more traditional than other and may take a great deal of care in selecting one item for each category. It may be traditional for the women in their families to wear the same piece of jewelry.
Other brides aren’t bound by tradition but still may choose to carry out the custom at someone else’s request. If they don’t want to carry numerous items, they may simply carry two handkerchiefs in a small beaded bag–hey may choose to buy a new, white handkerchief and borrow a blue one from a family member. That would provide them with something new–the white handkerchief, as well as something that is old, borrowed and blue–the blue handkerchief. The handkerchief just may come in handy6 during the wedding for drying their joyful tears.