Wedding Traditions: Origins of Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

March 20, 2022
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Most of us have given into a superstition at least once: knocked on wood, threw salt over our shoulders, or spun in a circle three times. Wedding traditions from all around the world are rooted in superstition: brides in Norway wear crowns to deflect evil spirits, brides and grooms in Congo are not supposed to smile the entire day, and grooms in China shoot their bride with headless arrows. When looking at weddings, we see that even the most logical-minded of couples find themselves engaging in a tradition or two on their big day. 

One of the most widely known and used wedding traditions in America is a rhyme: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. It makes us wonder— Where did this idea come from? And how are modern brides still taking part in this tradition? 

Origins of the Wedding Rhyme

The phrase dates all the way back to 19th century Lancashire (Victorian era England), and was originally concluded with “a sixpence in your shoe.” It is an old English rhyme, and each of the objects in the phrase is meant to represent what a bride should have on her wedding day in order to promote good luck and fertility in her marriage. 

Who Gives the Bride the Four Objects?

A bride’s something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue are often given to her by her friends and relatives. Grandmothers often gift the bride a piece of vintage jewelry for the “something old” segment, and “blue” can be interpreted in many ways— from ribbons to shoes to bridesmaids dresses and so on. Some brides choose to give themselves the objects, but this is less common than receiving small gifts that fit the old rhyme. 

Wondering when and why is the perfect time to give jewelry gifts? Check out our article here!

Wedding Traditions Explained: What do the Objects Represent?

The objects are said to be representative of good luck and fertility, but they have individual meanings as well. Let’s dive into the significance of each item on the list!

Something Old

“Something old” is thought to symbolize continuity, meaning the object of choice is a link between the past and present. 

The most common way brides incorporate this into their wedding day is by dawning a piece of vintage jewelry, often given to them by an older family member. They can also pay homage to a lost loved one by hiding an old photo inside of a locket or bouquet of flowers, taking that person with them on their special day. 

Looking for more things to do with old, inherited jewelry? Check out our guide here. 

Something New

“Something new” is a symbol of hope and optimism for the future, and can be represented in a variety of ways. When it comes to this wedding tradition, almost anything can be considered new, from the wedding dress, to the veil, to the bouquet. “Something new” just makes sense, as the couple is starting a brand new chapter in their life from that day forward. 

Something Borrowed

The “something borrowed” part of the rhyme is all about taking good luck into one’s marriage. The thought is that if a bride borrowed something from a happily married family member or friend, they too would share in their light of happiness. A bride can borrow almost anything: grandma’s earrings, a friend’s wedding ribbon, a mother’s wedding dress, the list goes on. 

Something Blue

Blue was said to represent love, fertility, and purity— which almost every Victorian era bride was expected to possess. The tradition lives on, and it is commonplace for brides to include a blue ribbon, hair accessory, shoes, or flowers in their wedding day attire.

Sixpence in Your Shoe

The sixpence was intended to promote prosperity for the new couple. After all, no one wants to start their marriage off flat broke, even in Victorian Era England. 

While this portion of the rhyme is often left out nowadays, some brides still find a way to incorporate it into their wedding day. While the sixpence was discontinued in the 1980’s, brides in the US can substitute a penny in their shoe if they’re determined to finish the rhyme. 

There you have it! The wedding tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe represents a variety of wedding well- wishes for the wearer. 

Thank you for reading!  We at Stewart Kuper Jewelers wish all the newlyweds out there a lifetime of happiness and good luck, and are here for all your wedding knowledge needs. Be sure to contact us here if you have any fine jewelry you wish to buy or sell! 

Call: 520-750-0050