The History of the "Something Old" Poem

By: Coco Dietz

Some may think that the old saying, “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue.” Is an old-fashioned tradition. But many brides still enjoy adding elements that incorporate that nod or follow the centuries old tradition.

“Something Old 

Something New 

Something Borrowed 

Something Blue 

And a sixpence in her Shoe”

To find the origins of this tradition, we have to go back to the late 1800s in Lancashire, England. There, in an 1871 edition of St. James Magazine, there was the very first written record of the “Something Old” poem. Many poems at the time held fast to the notion that luck could be bought through tedious attention to detail and by adding elements to your special occasions or even everyday life that would guarantee a positive outcome. This poem was no exception. Brides were certain to add the five elements the poem mentioned, ensuring that their marriage would be prosperous and that they would have clear skies ahead for the soon to be husband and wife. Brides today don’t feel the same necessity to cling to such traditions or to hold fast to the older superstitions, but it adds a fun tradition that they get to take part in, just like thousands of brides had done for the past 150 years.

“Something Old”

Adding the element of “Something Old” to the bride on the wedding day was said to protect whatever offspring were to come from the marriage. These items generally came from family members or even other married women who have had successful marriages, so that the protection that carried through their marriage will continue through onto the newly weds.

“Something New”

In opposition to the former requirement for a happy marriage was the addition of “Something New”. Typically the dress or veil would be new for the bride as she descended the aisle. However, these items were much more than just another of the many boxes that a bride had to check off before the big day finally arrived. Each of the five elements was to come from a place of sentimentality that would last through the wedding and into the marriage itself. Whoever offered this item for the bride to wear would bless the marriage looking towards a bright future for the couple.

“Something Borrowed”

The borrowed item, again, came from friends of family members of the bride, but the one requirement was that they would have to have already been married and, by their standards, have a successful marriage, generally meaning many children. Whoever the married family member or friend was, they would supply the bride with, typically, their undergarments to the young bride to be. The something borrowed would represent a borrowed happiness from another married couple that would continue onto the newly weds.

“Something Blue”

Often the something blue would be the garter that the bride would use to keep up her pantyhose on the day of the wedding, the same one the groom would ceremoniously remove later in the festivities as per a different tradition. The blue would represent purity of the bride, love that the couple shared, and fidelity that the couple share and that would hopefully continue throughout their marriage.

“Sixpence in her Shoe”

The final ingredient to the marriage cocktail that would hopefully lead the couple into a future that would bring them prosperity and a plethora of joy was the sixpence that the bride would place in her shoe. This coin that the bride would carry around with her for the festivities that the day would bring symbolized the prosperity that the couple hoped to have in their life together. The bride’s father typically gave this piece to her to put in her shoe.

These fun traditions, although they may not hold as much cultural significance as it did for the people of the past, still are prominent for brides to want to continue and pass them on to their daughters for generations to come.