THE MEANING BEHIND THE OLDEST WEDDING BLESSING

The original telling goes “Something olde, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence for your shoe.” It is the oldest known wedding blessing still in use today that holds true to its original meaning. While the last section is much more commonly used across the pond, some very traditional brides still recall it in its entirety. Here is a little history of each one’s importance, and how to incorporate them into your wedding.

1. SOMETHING OLDE
Your something old should be a family heirloom. It is often a piece of jewelry or handkerchief passed down through the bride’s family, though sometimes the groom’s family will bring forward an item. If they have no daughters of their own, this gesture is in hopes to receive a daughter in the next generation. The “old” item directly represents continuity (i.e. procreation) – hoping that by reminding the bride of all the generations before her, she will be inclined to continue with a new generation of her own. While this item is not something the bride herself typically has a choice over, she can suggest seeing what that item may be prior to the wedding so she has the opportunity to incorporate it into her overall attire.

2. SOMETHING NEW
Your something new has the most flexibility. It can be anything purchased new for the wedding. For many recent years it has been common to consider the bridal gown and/or accessories as the something new. Traditionally, though, the dress was worn through many generations, so the something new was often a piece created just for that bride – an embroidered handkerchief was very common. The symbolism behind the “new” item is to wish the bride good luck as she enters her new life stage as someone’s wife, as well as good fortune and especially good fertility.

3. SOMETHING BORROWED
Traditionally this item would come from an older family member or close friend who was already happily married with children of their own, specifically an undergarment. Again, it all comes back to wishing the bride good luck in future fertility. Today it is much more common to lend a piece of jewelry, hair accessories, or possibly shoes. In order for it to “work” though, the item must be returned after the wedding!

4. SOMETHING BLUE
In this circumstance the color blue represents fidelity, modesty, and purity. Historically it was unheard of for a bride to be a non-virgin, as the Virgin Mary is often depicted in blue. Across Europe, prior to the 1800’s (before white was the color) blue was a top choice for wedding gowns. In ancient Israel the bride’s dress would commonly be bordered in blue. In modern times, blue is more typically incorporated through the bride’s garter, shoes, stones in her jewelry, or her undergarments. Unlike the other items, it is not specified where your “blue” item should come from, so you have a bit of flexibility on this one.

5. A SILVER SIXPENCE WORN IN THE SHOE
A sixpence is an old English coin. Unless you know someone who has one, they can be hard to come by, which may be the reason many American brides forego this piece of the poem. While this item doesn’t leave much room for personalization, as the poem dictates its exactitude, it symbolizes good fortune and prosperity in your marriage so it’s a good one to try to include!

As the tale goes, all items must be worn on the bride’s person. Today’s brides tend to use the poem as more of a guideline, though, taking each item and personalizing it for themselves. There are countless ideas out there for modern adaptations, but now you have the proper history.

~~~ CBG ~~~