Victorian Wedding Traditions
When planning your wedding, you may be on the search for ‘something blue’ to wear on the big day, regardless of the colour palette you planned for your wedding. Family members may be keen for you to include an heirloom during the day – but why?
Something Old, Something New. Something Borrowed, Something Blue.
This advice is thought to originate from a victorian rhyme, ‘Something old, something new. Something borrowed, something blue’. Each of these lines of the rhyme has its own meaning, but stems from beliefs thought to make the Bride’s journey into her married life a success.
Something Old is often a link to the Bride’s past, their family connections and line of descent. Its meaning is one of continuity and it’s traditional to mark this with a family heirloom. Perhaps some treasured jewellery, earrings or a broach perhaps, that’s been handed down through the family from one generation to the next. It could also be the Bride’s dress, gifted to them by their mother or grandmother.
Although some fashions may not be quite what the Bride has in mind, it’s common to remodel the gifted dress to include some modern but subtle updates. Other examples could be lace, fabric or pearls sewn into the hem of the dress, bouquet or accessories. Another idea is a photograph of a deceased loved one in a locket. Each of them a gentle acknowledgement to this old-english advice.
Something new is meant to represent the good fortune of the Bride to be, a symbol of optimism for a life well lived. This could be new shoes that the Bride wears, or make or fragrance worn on the day. New jewellery such as a pendant or choker which accents the dress is a popular choice too. If the bride chooses to take the name of their partner, then that ‘new’ name can be embroidered into a discreet place on the wedding gown, on an inside hem or petticoat.
‘Something borrowed’ acts as a reminder that the Bride’s friends and family will always be there for her, whenever help is needed. Ideas for this line of the rhyme could be to lend a handbag or stole for the wedding. Even the Bride’s veil if she opts to wear one. It could also be something small, such as a lace handkerchief or hair pins, borrowed from a member of the family or close friend. As part of the wedding ceremony, a poem or a quotation could be ‘borrowed’ and spoken aloud by the Bride on the day.
The meaning behind ‘Something Blue’ is to represent faithfulness and loyalty. The colour link is present in many cultures, where blue signifies trust and sincerity. A popular choice for Brides was the wearing of a blue garter, worn underneath her gown. Accessories such as blue earrings, or blue flowers or ribbons in the bouquets are alternatives.
Finally, the last and often forgotten line of the rhyme is one that represents wealth and happiness to the wedded couple. ‘A silver sixpence in her shoe’ originates from the tradition of the Bride’s father sending well wishes to the couple for future prosperity. This tradition is said to bring happiness and wealth in their life together as a married couple.
The ways in which couples choose to hold their weddings is changing all the time, although some traditions have continued to be honoured. Now that you know more about where this particular tradition originated from, you can choose whether or not to do so during your own wedding. These decisions made as a couple are important as they reflect your individual choices. They allow you to personalise your day as much as possible. You may want to take this a step further. Perhaps bespoke wedding vows and symbolic gestures that feature in your ceremony.
As an independent celebrant, I have lots of ideas to share with couples who are looking to celebrate their union with something different. So dream big! It’s your wedding, so have it your way!