Something Old New Borrowed and Blue

Something Old New Borrowed and Blue

Why do we incorporate Something Old New Borrowed and Blue into our wedding day?

Weddings today can look very different than they did a few years ago. Many couples are choosing to do away with the wedding traditions their parents or grandparents might have considered vital.

However, some wedding traditions are here to stay. These traditions might include the bouquet toss or the cake cutting.

One tradition that almost always finds its way into a wedding is an old saying:

“Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.”

English Folklore

Let’s look at the history of this wedding tradition and explore ways you can incorporate this rhyme into your own wedding, whether it will be a traditional wedding or not.

Something Old New Borrowed and Blue: The Origins

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue – As with most old sayings, it’s difficult to pin down the origin of this particular wedding rhyme. But historians and philologists have theories about where this specific saying started.

The phrase, already an ancient custom at the time, was first recorded in an issue of St. James Magazine in Lancashire, England, in 1871, during the height of the Victorian era. While this period in British history is marked by significant industrial advances, superstition was still very much alive.

The perceived goal of this saying and following its advice was to ensure the bride’s fertility. Wearing the items mentioned in the rhyme could also help protect the bride from the ill-wishes of the groom’s previous suitors.

But each aspect of this old saying has its own significance, so let’s break it down a little further.

Something Old:

Something Old

In the rhyme, something old represents the link to the bride’s family and her past. It symbolized tradition and continuity and worked to bless the newly married couple with many years of wedded bliss.

Traditionally, this gift would come from the bride’s parents or an older family member. It might have been a piece of heirloom jewelry or even the bride’s mother’s wedding gown.

The goal is to remind the bride of her past and the importance of family.

Something New:

Something New

It’s a bit more difficult to pinpoint the exact meaning of something new in this rhyme. Some historians believe it was just to flesh out the verse. However, others have a different idea.

Something new could be a blessing for the couple as they begin their new lives together. It can also symbolize letting go of past ideas in preparation for marriage.

In Victorian England, something new was probably referring to the bride’s wedding gown, or it could have referred to her new wedding ring.

Something Borrowed:

Something Old New Borrowed and Blue

This portion of the rhyme is a little strange and might make you wonder what those Victorians were thinking. But, as we mentioned, they were quite superstitious, so maybe they get a pass.

Since fertility was so important, all bases needed to be covered. The bride typically borrowed something from an older sister or another family member who already had children.

What was that something? It was often an undergarment. Borrowed undergarments are not exactly what every bride wants to wear on her big day!

Something Blue:

Something Blue

Blue was, and still is, a color believed to have great power in warding off evil spirits. Since those Victorians were very concerned about the bride’s ability to conceive a child, her fertility must be protected at all costs.

A blue garter was the primary choice of attire to satisfy this aspect of the rhyme. Since garters actually held stockings up in Victorian times, it makes sense that this common piece of clothing would be blue.

There’s no real indication that the groom’s garter toss is related to the bride’s blue garter. However, the tradition that calls for the bride to wear more than one garter is likely connected. A Victorian bride would wear an extra garter, so she still had one to hold up her stockings.

The Forgotten Fifth Line:

Some people may not realize that there is a fifth line in the rhyme, which refers to a sixpence in the bride’s shoe. Again, deciphering old sayings comes with a bit of creativity. Still, it’s likely this signified the hope that the bride and groom would have a financially prosperous marriage.

Incorporating These Traditions into Your Wedding

Something Old

Even if your wedding is non-traditional, it’s easy to incorporate some of these ideas. Plus, if you have family members who don’t understand your wish to make your wedding your own, this is a nice way to let them know you value them.

What Do Brides Use for Something Old?

It’s easy to add something old to your wedding aesthetic. In fact, it might be something you already have.

If your future spouse proposed to you with a family heirloom ring, that certainly fits the bill. Your own family may also want to give you or loan you a sentimental piece of jewelry. If this is the case then it is valid as both something old and something borrowed.

Other than jewelry, some ideas for incorporating Something old into your wedding day could be using vintage cars or heirloom variety roses. You might wear a vintage dress or veil.

Sometimes brides attach photographs or small mementos of loved ones who have passed away to the lining of their wedding dress or to their bridal bouquet. This is a way of honoring and remembering that loved one on this significant day.  

What Do Brides Use for Something New?

Any of your new wedding attire definitely falls in the new category… and your lingerie (as I’m sure you’re not going to borrow it!). Anything that you buy new for your wedding day can count as your something new – wedding bands, clothing, shoes, accessories or jewelry.

Thinking of something unique, if you get a new tattoo to commemorate your wedding, that definitely count as something new.

If you and your spouse recently bought a new home or a new car, those can also be significant as something new if you use them for your wedding venue or wedding car.

What Do Brides Use for Something Borrowed?

During the countdown to your wedding, your friends and family will be eager to let you borrow something to satisfy this part of the tradition. Again, jewelry might be the most convenient item to lend, but you can get creative with this one… But maybe stay away from borrowing an undergarment!

If you want to borrow something a little bit different that’s not a piece of jewelry, some other items you could borrow are: a veil or hair accessory, your wedding dress, a shawl or wrap for cooler weather, a little clutch or purse or cars to use as your wedding cars.

What Do Brides Use for Something Blue?

Adding something blue to your wedding plans is an easy part of the tradition. If blue is a part of your color scheme then you won’t be short on something blue.

If blue isn’t a part of your color scheme then you could add a single blue flower to your bouquet, wear blue bridal shoes, include a little blue in your hair accessory or jewelry or for something a bit different serve a blueberry dessert at your reception.

If you want the blue to go unnoticed then a little blue ribbon can be sewn into the lining of your dress. Or, you could also stick with tradition and wear a blue garter to keep those pesky spirits away!

A Sixpence in Your Shoe

Even though this portion of the rhyme is unfamiliar to most, it might be the easiest way to cover all the points in the rhyme. Borrow an old sixpence (or penny, cent or dime) from a coin-collecting friend or family member, wrap it in a new blue ribbon and tie it to your shoe.

After all, if there’s one superstition we might give serious consideration to, it’s the one that’s supposed to make us wealthy. Actually, I don’t think I’d be doing this as it sounds really uncomfortable!

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Other Wedding Favor Ideas

One of the great things about weddings is you can make them entirely your own. If you want to incorporate some tradition into your wedding day then the rhyme of something old new borrowed and blue is a fun way to achieve that.

Are you planning your wedding? Have a look at our other articles for more tips on how to make your wedding uniquely yours.