Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…we have all heard it before but where does this funny wedding tradition come from?
Dating back to the Victorian era, the earliest version of this riddle showed up in an 1876 newspaper in Lancashire, England where the author wrote of a wedding where the bride “wore, according to ancient custom, something old and something new, something borrowed and blue” and apparently these items would bring good luck on her wedding day. Another version of the poem also includes a final line “and a sixpence in her shoe”, so this tradition has strong British roots. ‘Something old’ is a symbol of family and history and meant to protect the future children of the newlyweds; ‘something new’ represents good luck for the future (many brides consider their wedding dress to be their something new). ‘Something borrowed’ tends to be from another happy bride as a token of good fortune, and something blue represents fidelity, love, and purity. The sixpence coin is a sign of prosperity meant to ward off evil. Here are a few real-life brides, coincidentally all British Royalty, who followed this classic tradition:
Princess Kate Middleton chose to have a blue ribbon sewn inside the dress for “something blue” and borrowed the one and only Queen Elizabeth’s Cartier Halo tiara to wear underneath her veil. The lace pattern covering Middleton’s dress is inspired by the old traditional lace-making technique called Carrickmacross. Middleton wore brand new Robinson Pelham diamond earrings gifted to her by her parents.
As the first American to wed a British royal, Princess Meghan Markle was changing up the royal wedding game in all kinds of new ways. Markle chose to wear a diamond and platinum tiara which she borrowed from Queen Elizabeth II. However, the crown dates back to 1932 as it was made for Queen Mary and the brooch was gifted to Mary in 1893, so it definitely doubles as the bride’s ‘something old’ as well. The new Princess also borrowed a vibrant blue cocktail ring that belonged to Princess Diana. Much of the items worn on Markle’s wedding day were new including her many Cartier jewelry pieces and her custom-designed silk gown made by Givenchy.
We can’t mention the modern British Princesses without paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II who, still a princess at the time, married Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. She wore a diamond fringe tiara at the base of her veil which she borrowed from her mother, Queen Elizabeth. Dating back to the 1700s, the bride’s pearl necklaces (something old) were borrowed from her mother but originally belonged to Queen Anne and Queen Caroline, respectively. The Queen’s ivory silk wedding dress (something new) was adorned with ten thousand seed pearls and was made by Norman Hartell of Couturier. The silk came from China and was made by 350 women over the span of seven weeks. Queen Elizabeth did not include a blue item within her wedding wardrobe; although she did have a good luck charm built into the coronation dress that she wore in 1953, a four-leaf clover embroidered on the inside of her skirt for good luck.