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Wedding traditions are something a lot of people take seriously, especially if there could be bad luck involved when breaking them. And while I’m all about breaking traditions that don’t suit your needs or personality, there are some fun traditions that you might want to know more about – whether you’re superstitious or not.
You may have heard this funny rhyme about what every bride needs on her wedding day. According to tradition, the five things a bride needs on her wedding day are “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe.” Originating in the Victorian Era, the rhyme symbolizes a list of items that bring a bride good luck.
In the United States, the most commonly remembered are the first four items.. If you’ve heard of the tradition of a bride having a sixpence in her shoe, good on you. It is a line I had only ever really heard of in a Carrie Underwood song.
Traditionally, these items are supposed to be given to the bride by special members of her family or important people in her life. Many modern brides mix it up by purchasing fun items for themselves. If you’re looking for alternatives to everything from something blue, to traditional veils, to wearing a white dress, check out our post on The Ultimate Guide To Wedding Alternatives.
So what are the things a bride needs on her wedding day? Here’s a full history and a round-up of how modern brides and grooms take on the traditions and make them their own.
What is “Something Old” for a wedding?
The tradition of the bride having “something old” for a wedding comes from the idea that the bride is still tied to her past. While she’s marrying into a new family and stepping into a different part of her life, her family and the traditions that come from her own heritage are still a part of her and will follow her into her marriage.
This can be anything from the bride’s past or an important family heirloom. It’s common for brides to wear a piece of jewelry, like a locket with a loved one’s picture in it.
What is “Something New” for a wedding?
Just as “something old” represents a bride’s past, “something new” represents her future.
“Something new” is a good luck charm for the bride and groom’s future, as they step into their new lives as partners. “Something new” is traditionally the bride’s dress or the rings the bride and groom exchange during the ceremony. It can also be a new piece of jewelry or new shoes that the bride wears.
What is “Something Borrowed” for a wedding?
“Something borrowed” on your wedding day is traditionally borrowed from a happily married family member or loved one. It symbolizes good luck for the union. It is also thought to bring good luck with fertility, wishing the couple many healthy children.
The item should be something the bride can give back to the lender. For example, a piece of jewelry, a tube of lipstick, or even a pair of shoes.
What is “Something Blue” for a wedding?
Having “something blue” on your wedding day brings love, purity, faithfulness and modesty into your marriage. Traditionally, blue is the color representation of these core values. Many brides wear blue jewelry or shoes, or even sew something blue into their dress.
This is where brides can really have fun. There isn’t really a clear guideline on what something blue should be.
What is a six-pence, or a penny, in your shoe for a wedding?
Having a six-pence – a coin from Victorian England – or a penny in your shoe for your wedding symbolizes wealth for the couple in their new lives together. It also symbolizes, for modern brides especially, wealth in other things – love, wisdom, health, and other important parts of life.
Do brides still do something old something new?
We asked real couples whether they were into the idea of “something old, something new.” And whether they were planning to incorporate the tradition in their wedding.
Generally, brides and grooms today think “something old, something new” is a tradition worth keeping around. I polled over 100 couples on Facebook and 65% of them said they were going to incorporate something old, something new into their wedding day.
The overwhelming majority gleefully offered examples of how they incorporated something old, something new into their wedding day:
Lindsay, a 2016 bride, stuck to the typical rhythm. “I borrowed family members’ jewelry, had blue flowers, my something old was my engagement ring, which was my husband’s great-great grandmother’s ring, and new was my dress.”
But some brides like to accomplish all four-five items with one piece. Julie, a 2021 bride, was gifted a hairpiece from her mother. It was made with something old and turned into something new. “My mom made me new hair clips out of an old blue bracelet my great-grandmother had. I counted it as all 4 – it was something borrowed from my great-grandmother, the stones were blue, it was something old, and something new, since my mom made new hair clips out of it!”
The one thing that most brides left out was the idea of the penny in your shoe. A few honored the tradition. Calli, another 2021 bride, did all five items. Her dress was new, and her shoes were blue. Her engagement ring and jewelry were old and she borrowed a bracelet from her aunt. Lastly, she added the penny into her shoe!
Do you have to have something old for a wedding?
Ultimately, having something old, something new, etc. is a fun tradition and not mandatory.
You do not have to have something old for a wedding. Or any of the other five items according to the traditional poem. Having all five of these items brings good luck to a marriage. If you’re not someone who believes in superstitions you can skip it.
Sometimes, you might have a family member surprise you on the day of with all of these items. You can take it as just a sweet gesture.
2020 bride, Alyssa, ended up with all five of the items without trying. It ended up being part of what made her day special. “I kind of acquired my things through the generosity of people I know. I wasn’t deliberately trying to find things but my grandma gave me her pearls, and a family friend gave me a pendant that is a tradition in England to wear in your shoe, and I think my shoes just happened to have blue on them so. It wasn’t planned but worked out nicely!”