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The Origin of Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue for Brides
Why do brides wear something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue? Here's the origin of the wedding tradition, plus fun ideas for each item.
Whether you're the mother of the bride in a wedding like Ree Drummond was (here's the latest on her daughter Alex Drummond's elegant ranch wedding), an attendant, a guest, or a member of the soon-to-be-married couple yourself, a wedding is an opportunity to partake in all kinds of special traditions. You may have heard, for example, that brides should wear (or carry) "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" on their wedding day for good luck. But you may also have some unanswered questions about the famous rhyme. Where does this very specific list of seemingly unrelated trinkets come from? What's the meaning behind each item? And—the fun part—what are some creative ways modern brides can make the tradition part of their big day?
What's the origin of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?
The tradition is based on an Old English rhyme that dates back to 19th-century Lancashire. It describes the items a bride should have on her wedding day: "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe."
What's the meaning behind each object?
The exact meaning behind each trinket isn't totally clear, but there are some popular theories. "Something old" represented a tie to the past. "Something new" stood for hope and optimism for the future. "Something borrowed" from a happily married friend or relative was believed to bring good luck for the union and even fertility. The color blue was meant to ward off the evil eye, and it also stood for love, purity, and fidelity. And the sixpence was intended to bring prosperity to the couple. (The British coin is no longer produced, but some determined brides still hunt down one to tuck into a shoe!)
Who usually gives the bride something old, new, borrowed, and blue?
Traditionally, these objects are cobbled together from female relatives and friends. But again, there are no hard and fast rules here. "Something old" could be a vintage getaway car, "something blue" could be the bouquet, and "something new" could be a gift from the soon-to-be spouse or the bride herself!
Something old ideas:
This is an opportunity to get creative with subtle throwback touches, like wearing a piece of vintage jewelry or incorporating some fabric from the bride's mom's wedding gown into her own. (For inspiration, check out these pics of Paige trying on Ree's wedding gown from 1996!) Many brides also use their "something old" item to pay tribute to lost loved ones, like by tucking an old photo into a locket or bouquet as a reminder of someone who is with them in spirit.
Something new ideas:
Something borrowed ideas:
Something blue ideas:
This is the part where brides can really have some fun. Traditionally, a bride's "something blue" was a garter, but many modern brides choose to add a subtle pop of blue with accessories like shoes, bags, and jewelry, or flowers, decor, and more. Check out these beautiful blue finds!
Best Blue Accessories for Brides
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Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue Ideas for Your Wedding
Want to keep in line with the something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue wedding tradition? Check out our roundup of ideas.
One of the many popular wedding traditions celebrated around the world in different ways is the concept of having (or wearing) something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue on your wedding day as a sign of good luck.
"Something old" symbolizes your lives prior to when they became intertwined and offers a chance to honor your family heritage, too while "something new" reflects your future shared life together. Meanwhile, "something borrowed" typically means incorporating an item belonging to a family member or dear friend for good luck, and "something blue" symbolizes fidelity and purity.
Members of your family (or your partner) might lend or gift you with any of these lucky tokens prior to the wedding, but there's no rule saying you can't also round up a few pieces of your own.
While it's not mandatory to honor all four of these traditions in your nuptials, it's a fun way to creatively blend the past, present, and future. Keep in mind that you're not limited to only small, wearable pieces! As a starting point, we've rounded up ideas to inspire your "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."
This is your chance to give a nod to the past. The item can be a family heirloom or just something used, vintage, or antique that you love.
Photo by Amrit Photography
Put a unique spin on the photo booth trend with an old-timey inspired camera that still produces digital prints. Or, go full vintage with an actual film camera. Just keep in mind these photos will take longer to develop.
Your something old can also be metaphorical, of course, symbolized by the readings the two of you choose to include in your ceremony. At their wedding in the Basque Country of Spain, Chris and Zachary opted for the love sonnet "XVII" by Pablo Neruda, a reading from "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman, and John 15:9-12.
If your pooch is lucky enough to earn ring-bearer status, celebrate your something old with a one-of-a-kind dog collar. For their Colorado elopement, country musician Shelly Fairchild and her partner, Deborah, took fabric and buttons from one of their late grandmother's collections to customize their border terrier's ring-bearing neckwear. Your pup will never be more proud.
Look to the future and your new life with your partner for something new.
Photo by Melissa Marshall
Add to your wedding-day bling with a modern, multi-finger ring featuring your new last name. Or, if that's too long (or you're not planning on changing your name), how about simply "Mrs." or "Mr." (or whichever titles apply) or a meaningful four-letter word, such as "love"? It'll garner just as much attention as your gorgeous engagement sparkler.
Anyone wearing a suit can share the love by wearing a set of cufflinks representative of their style—which, while something new on the wedding day, is also something they'll be able to wear for many years to come. Who knows? Maybe they will become a future something borrowed or even, way in the future, something old.
Tying the knot during chilly temps? Layer up with a cool white jacket or a chic cape to keep the look bridal and stay warm in style. As a bonus, every time you pull your warm and cozy cover-up out of the closet, you'll be reminded of all the happy memories from your wedding day.
One option for any bride who doesn't want to necessarily wear her something new is to have the ring bearer carry a custom embroidered ring pillow. A dual-duty item, this will keep in line with the tradition and also ensure the rings stay safe and sound. You can also combine multiple traditions here by incorporating borrowed lace from a relative's wedding gown.
If happiness multiplies when shared, something borrowed is a great way to start your marriage.
Photo by For Love & Light Photography
If borrowing an entire wedding gown from your mother or grandmother isn't feasible (maybe it's too delicate for alterations), don't fret. You can still take pieces of fabric from a sentimental family wedding dress and easily incorporate them into your look, perhaps as a lace belt or chic choker. Just be sure you check with your family before cutting up any prized heirlooms.
Wearing your father or grandfather's tie is certainly one way to bring it into the wedding. However, if you're not planning to actually wear a tie to your nuptials, there are other options to incorporate the sentiment. One bride's father passed away after she graduated college, so she honored his memory by tying one of his ties around the stems of her wedding bouquet.
Blue symbolizes fidelity, but it's also a very pretty way to add color to your wedding whites.
Photo By Joel Serrato
Have a little fun with the something-blue tradition and remind yourselves not to shed any (wink, wink) ugly tears on the big day with a blue handkerchief. These can also serve as a super-sweet embroidered letter or wedding-day note. And hey, if it's anything especially heart-felt, you've already got the means to wipe away your happy tears!
To commemorate your wedding day, stitch your initials (your new ones if you're changing your name) into the lining of your gown or jacket sleeve in blue. Other monogram ideas include the date of your wedding or you and your partner's first initials, joined by an ampersand.
Make like Carrie Bradshaw and uphold the tradition by rocking a pair of blue wedding shoes down the aisle. If you're wanting to err on the more traditional side, save the blue footwear for your reception. Switching shoes after the ceremony also means you have the option to change into something more comfortable and dance-friendly.