A Brief History of Something Borrowed, Something Blue

French's Point
Published August 16th, 2012

In the series, we’ve covered some pretty antiquated wedding traditions, some stretching all the way back to the ancients. This one, by comparison, is pretty young.

The tradition of the bride wearing something borrowed and something blue comes from the Victorian-era poem that in full reads: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” A sixpence is a British coin worth six pennies that was minted from 1551 to 1967. The belief was that if the bride carries each of these objects on her walk down the aisle she will enjoy a happy marriage. We really love how this tradition attaches such importance to small things that the bride carries with her down the aisle. These items come alive as precious reminders of all the key elements of the marriage commitment.

Each element of the tradition situates the bride as central to the evolution of her and her groom’s families. Something old symbolizes her connection with her family and the past. Something new represents her commitment to the future and her new family with the groom. Something borrowed plays double duty – it usually comes from a happily married friend or family member and is supposed to transfer that positive mojo to the bride, and it shows the bride that she can rely on her support network to help her out. As for something blue, blue was a common color for bridal gowns before the late 19th century. The color has been associated with love, modesty, and fidelity as far back as ancient Rome, and is the signature color of the Virgin Mary in the Christian tradition.

And what about the sixpence, and how exactly are you supposed to find one? Well, predictably, the coin represents financial security. Some companies make keepsake sixpence for weddings, but couples also often substitute a penny or a dime. The coin should be put in the bride’s left shoe for maximum fortune. Here’s hoping that fortune arrives in modern currency…