Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue,
And A Silver Sixpence in your Shoe
~ English Poem from the Late Victorian Era
A pleasant dilemma many brides face is finding something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, a custom that dates back to the late British Victorian Era (1837-1901, from the year Queen Victoria was crowned to her death). American brides dropped the sixpence custom, but have delighted in the other four. To help brides-to-be determine the items to choose for each category, here are the meanings of each:
Something old represents the past and continuity and is intended to be a family heirloom, such as a piece of jewelry or even a lace or linen monogrammed handkerchief, given to the bride by an older relative or handed down to her through generations. This was intended to symbolize the bride’s origin and provide a reminder of the lasting connection that she has to her own family even as she marries into her groom’s family. But in our modern era it is also fine to wear an old piece of jewelry borrowed from Mom or Gram or Aunt Felicity, thus representing the bride’s connection to her family while fulfilling the “borrowed” category, as well, if applicable.
Brides have been known to bend the rules a bit on this, such as Victoria Adams-Beckman (formerly Posh Spice of the 1990s Spice Girls); at her wedding to British soccer superstar David Beckman, Victoria wore a diamond crucifix that was a Christmas gift from David for her “something old.” Talk about posh!
Something new typifies a fresh start on a new life and the optimism it embraces. This typically has been represented by the bride’s new wedding dress worn on the day she begins her new life. Alternatively, it can be a gift of jewelry from her groom to welcome her to her new life.
Something borrowed embodies the happiness and longevity of the marriage of an older woman, either a friend or relative with whom the bride has developed a close relationship. By borrowing something precious from her it is believed that a long and happy marriage will be passed on to the bride, and that the older and wiser woman will always be there to provide guidance and friendship to the new bride. When Kate Middleton married Britain’s Prince William, she borrowed the Queen’s Cartier diamond tiara; not something every bride will be able to do, but you get the idea.
Something blue reflects love and fidelity. This one is probably the easiest as the color blue can be incorporated into the bouquet, wedding dress, jewelry and so on. The late movie star and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, had blue bows sewn on to the petticoats of her wedding dress.
- Something Old – Mother’s or Grandmother’s wedding dress, vintage family photo(s) in a locket (old or new), a period or antique accessory, the bride’s jewelry from her infanthood or childhood
- Something New – A gift from the groom or brides’ parents or friends, an accessory the bride selects for herself
- Something Borrowed – A family member’s veil or headpiece, any item of historical or emotional significance borrowed from a close friend or relative that can be worked into the bride’s ensemble
- Something Blue – Blue embroidery or stitching inside the wedding dress with the wedding date / name / message, jewelry or accessories, flowers or bouquet ribbons or other decorations, gemstones
A Sixpence in Your Shoe
A silver sixpence in your shoe is the part of the custom American brides tend to skip. The custom originated with the lord of the manor presenting to his bride or the father of the bride presenting to his daughter a sixpence to carry in her shoe on her wedding day as their wish to her for prosperity in her marriage. (For those who would like to do some further research, some variations on this custom say the sixpence should be carried in the left shoe.)
For the bride who wishes to observe this custom, however, it’s not likely one will be found at a US bank or currency exchange because the British phased out the sixpence in the early 1970s. Prior to the 1970s, the sixpence had been around since the 16th century and is remembered mostly from lore (The Old Woman and Her Pig) and literature (The Moon and Sixpence, by William Somerset Maugham). However, Amazon.com and Etsy carry keepsake sixpence coins for purchase. To get an idea of the value of a sixpence compared to US currency, there are — or were — 240 pence in a British pound sterling, and in 1971 a pound sterling equaled roughly $2.50 or 250 pennies.
For American brides, though, why not use a US coin? Families sometimes have lucky pennies or old coins among their possessions or might even collect rare coins. Such coins can be placed in the bride’s shoe, of course, although that might be uncomfortable; but they can also be placed in the bride’s bag if she carries one in the procession, incorporated into her bouquet or made into jewelry or a keychain to wear.
While the custom of Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Silver Sixpence In Your Shoe is rooted in superstition, it can be a lighthearted and delightful bit of whimsy in which to indulge to add to the magic and festive spirit of your wedding! And, now I’ll leave you with an “oldie” but goodie that is somewhat on topic!
Until next time,