Something old, something new... something borrowed, something blue… and a silver sixpence in her shoe.”
If you have gotten married or are a bride to be, chances are you have been asked by a friend or family member if you have collected the items in this well-known poem for your wedding day. I personally combined a few and borrowed my mother’s blue bridal garter for my wedding, covering the borrowed and blue in one item. But where did this poem come from and why is it a wedding tradition?
I did a little digging. The poem is an old English rhyme whose exact origins are not known, but it was often recited during Victorian era nuptials. Per the poem, the bride must collect the five objects from friends and family. These pieces are intended to bring the bride good luck and often they are cherished heirlooms or family treasures that have been handed down.
The items that the bride must obtain do have meaning. Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity; and a sixpence in your shoe is a wish for good fortune and prosperity.
“A sixpence in her shoe” remains a largely British custom. The sixpence is an English coin that was minted beginning in 1558 and continued until 1967. Sixpence are no longer minted in England and are becoming rare. According to tradition, during the early 1600s the lord of the manor presented a sixpence to the bride as a wedding gift. Toward the end of the 17th century, it became the custom for the bride’s parents to give the sixpence as a dowry gift to the groom. As time went on the custom of using the sixpence as a good luck coin continued into the 1800s. Today brides throughout England, the U.S. and other countries worldwide, still place a sixpence in their left shoe for good luck.
We asked Yakima Valley Bride Facebook followers what items they collected for their wedding day. Here are a few fun responses:
Something old. The brooch didn’t look like anything special, but it was special to my family. It had been worn for four generations in every woman’s wedding in the family, and I was to wear it on the day of my wedding as well. I wore it proudly on the front center of my dress as I walked down the aisle, proud to carry on the tradition of the beautiful cameo."
Something old: My spandex, LOL. Something new: My wedding dress. Something borrowed: A pair of pearl earrings and a necklace. Something blue: My bouquet had blue flowers in it.
My wedding dress was new and blue!