Something Old, Something New,
Something Borrowed, Something Blue is a rhyme
and a tradition that has been part of the wedding
scene in English speaking countries since Victorian
times. These are the things that a bride is
advised to wear or carry on her wedding day to
ensure the success of the marriage and her own
happiness. There are various interpretations of what
While it has been around since Victorian times, it
is pretty well the only thing about white wedding
traditions that we didn't in some way inherit from
first written record we have of the first two lines
is from a short story "Marriage Superstitions and
the Miseries of a Bride Elect", published in
1871. Five years later a newspaper report of a
wedding held in Lancashire, reported that the bride
wore something old, something new, something
borrowed, something blue. This has lead to the
assumption that the tradition originates in
Lancashire whereas it was far more widespread in
rural environments. There is evidence that this
tradition was also known in Northern France. It
could well have originated there.
Some interpretations suggest that something old
provides protection for the babies to come. An 1898
compilation of English folklore mentioned the rhyme
and suggested that,wearing something old (usually an
undergarment borrowed from a married woman who has
children) transfers fertility to the bride and,
along with something blue, and confounds
the Evil Eye.
More generally, something old represents
continuity with previous generations in the bride's
family together with the support of her family. It
is very common in Australia that brides borrow a
piece of jewellery from their mother or one of their
grandmothers, rather than their knickers.
Something new is a symbol of hope, an expression of
optimism about the future. There has never been any
prescription about what it might be.
Borrowing something from a happily married woman is
believed to guarantee happiness by ensuring that a
bit of her happiness and good fortune rubs off on
the new bride. Remembering, of course, that in
earlier times it was considered good fortune to
marry at all! It is double insurance - if it is
borrowed, it is not new, and brides were urged to
borrow undies from a fertile married woman.
Nowadays, observing this tradition tends to be about
honouring a loved one or using something of
sentimental value handed down to you from an older
blue was the bride's garter - something she
wore in expectation of it being taken off (a custom
developed to stop people tearing bits off the
bride's clothes for luck!). But in later, less bawdy
times, upper class brides ditched the garter in
favour of a small blue bow stitched inside the hem
of the wedding gown. It is a tradition that is
observed even today by high-end couturiers. Having
your mother or your grandmother stitch the bow on
after you are fully dressed for your wedding not
only observes the old superstition that the bride's
dress should never be completely finished until
after she has put it on, on the big day, it makes
for memorable photos.
The colour blue has been associated with loyalty,
faithfulness, and purity for centuries. It is also
the colour that is believed to ward off the Evil
Eye, a belief still honoured by charms, particularly
in the Middle East.
Putting a modern spin on
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed,
Something Blue firmly puts the happiness and
success of the marriage on the bride! In the 21st
century we know that the success of a marriage
relies on a joint effort. There are two ways to
honour the tradition in an evolved way that fits
much more comfortably with 21st century values of
equality in a marriage - Duplicate and Merge.
Duplicate, so that each of you
honours Something Old, Something New,
Something Borrowed, Something Blue in
your own way
Vintage, antique, pre-owned and/or
borrowedjewellery for her, accessories such as
cuff-links or something attached to or worn
instead of a boutonniere for him. One of my
grooms wore on of his mother's brooches.
Blue shoes, flowers, jewellery, accessories,
or items of clothing. For example, a blue tie
and pocket square, a blue dress (coloured
wedding dresses are very in at the moment), or
something blue and hidden. For brides this has
been a small blue bow sewn inside her dress.
no reason why a blue ribbon shouldn't be sewn
inside a groom's suit. Or go the whole hog and
wear a jacket with a blue lining.
Merge, so that each part of the
tradition is represented in something that is
incorporated in your wedding without being
specific to either of you
Incorporate blue in the ceremony styling.
Blue sashes on the chairs. Blue flowers. I had
posies of fresh blue and white flowers tied
with blue satin ribbon as my aisle decorations
(in test-tubes filled with water to keep them
fresh). While a red carpet for the aisle is
sort of traditional, perhaps have a blue one
instead, or overlapping Persian style rugs
that are predominantly blue for a Boho vibe.
Use a blue handfasting cord
Hire or borrow a vintage car. Blue if you
can. Decorate with blue ribbons.
Go for blue icing on your cake
Do a toast using Bombay Sapphire!
Choose something blue for your favours - and
spread the luck. Very topical at the moment,
personal size hand sanitiser. I've bought a
couple of brands where the sanitiser is
coloured blue. Miniature bottles of
Bombay Sapphire or local gin brands (Ink Gin
comes to mind), blueberry sauce, or chocolates
wrapped in blue foil, perhaps.
Have place cards and menus printed in blue
ink on white, or white on blue - just make
sure that there is enough contrast so older
guests can read them easily