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Decoded: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Jewelry shopping can be intimidating. That’s why we started Ask HOLDEN, our blog where we answer your FAQs, break down scary industry lingo, and guide you in finding the perfect piece of jewelry.

If you’re planning to get married, you may have heard the saying instructing brides to wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” for good fortune. At HOLDEN, we like to push the boundaries of traditional wedding ideas and rules, so by no means are we telling you to borrow a pair of diamond earrings or run to the store for a blue garter (or to pull a Chandler and Monica from Friends and “borrow” - aka steal - a blue sweatshirt just to keep the tradition alive). Also, your wedding may not even have a bride! But we think it can be fun to understand where a tradition came from, so here’s the history behind the phrase.

The Victorian Era English rhyme first appeared in 1871 in the UK, in St James Magazine (although the bride only mentioned the new, borrowed, and blue. The article itself is mad old now, though, so it technically has it all). The "old" was added for the first time in 1876 in a newspaper article describing a wedding, and the adage in its entirety made its first US appearance in a 1905 book by American etiquette writer Emily Post. But what does it all mean?

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue: A Translation Guide

The Old

Something old is intended to scare off the Evil Eye, which was said to bring infertility to the bride. Okay...

The New

Optimism for the future! This makes sense to us (also, HOLDEN rings are new, just saying)!

The Borrowed

An item borrowed from a happily married couple, again meant to encourage fertility: in fact, the borrowed item is *traditionally* meant to be undergarments of a friend/family member with children, to get the fertility vibes, uh, flowing. To this we say, to each their own, but also…ew to borrowed underwear?

The Blue

Another item worn to scare off the Evil Eye. Often, the blue item was a garter worn by the bride on her wedding day for good luck. Fun (sort of) fact: garters are sometimes thought of as a symbol of deflowering, and in some ceremonies, the groom removes the garter with his teeth and throws it to unmarried male guests (similar to the bouquet toss tradition, but far more intimate!).

The Takeaway

If you’re feeling extra superstitious on your wedding day, the rhyme also has a line about "a sixpence in her shoe" - specifically a silver sixpence in the left shoe of the bride. Hopefully she'll stay balanced as she walks down the aisle with a British coin in only one of her wedding shoes. Traditionally, the sixpence was meant to ward against jilted suitors. You know, just to be on the safe side about anyone you may have ghosted on Tinder...

Okay, so overall, the history behind the saying has a lot to do with warding off evil spirits and bringing on babies. In the twenty-first century, as a society we are definitely less afraid of the Evil Eye and know a bit more about the science behind fertility, but wedding traditions can be fun regardless of where they came from.

Here at HOLDEN, we want to take some of the headache and confusion out of the wedding industry and your special day, so if there's another tradition you want us to unpack (like why do people carry a wedding bouquet and what's up with the wedding veil, anyway?), shoot us an email at help@hiholden.com and we’ll tackle it next!

Want to read more? Check out some other recent blog posts:

10 Surprising Facts About the New York Diamond District

Queen Victoria: Original Wedding Influencer

The Ultimate Wedding Band Buying Guide

Questions? Give us a shout at help@hiholden.com or a ring at 917.719.3634 

Photo of Julia Kinnunen's wedding courtesy of Angela and Evan Photography.