Something Borrowed, Something Blue: Do I Really Need It at My Wedding?

Liz Susong weighs in on the age-old proverb

Updated 10/26/17

Julie Bulanov Photography

In Catalyst Wedding Co. editor Liz Susong's weekly column devoted to the feminist bride, she dives headfirst into the crazy history behind common wedding traditions we may take for granted. Liz investigates here.

“A solid therapist,

And ample money,

A sense of humor,

And sex on Sundays.”

It’s the famous rhyme that superstitious brides follow in the name of luck for a long and happy marriage—wait, I’m sorry. My assistant just informed me that the rhyme is actually “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Wait, she’s telling me there’s one more line. What’s that? “And a silver sixpence in her shoe.” Now what in the hell does any of that have to do with a long and happy marriage!?

I swear, it’s remarkable how little of the wedding has anything to do with the long, uphill battle of living every single day of your life with a spouse. But you know what they say: If you’re not bitter, you’re not paying attention.

So let’s dive in. This rhyme dates back to Victorian England, and it seems to signify the simultaneous hope for continuity and a fresh beginning. “Something old...signifies the desire that the best of the couple’s previous lives...remain with them in the new life to come,” writes wedding historian Susan Waggoner. Meanwhile “something new” is all about the new life the couple will start together. “Something borrowed” is a bit more superstitious, pointing to the idea that borrowing items from a happily married woman will transfer that woman’s good luck onto the new bride. And the color blue is representative of “fidelity and love’s purity”; it was also a popular color to wear prior to the white wedding dress trend. And that sixpence? Well even the Victorians knew that marriage is a heck of a lot easier with ample money.

Did I give one flying hoot about this darling rhyme when I got married? No; I was far too concerned with driving a carload of beer from Colorado to Ohio for my barn wedding because I’m hipster like that. But some people are not terrible and vapid, and they do give a flying hoot about this sweet tradition.

Dawn says, “I LOVED this part of wedding traditions! Both of our wedding bands were ‘old’: My mother gave me her band, and my grandmother gave Njaluka my grandfather’s wedding band. My ‘something new’ was a necklace one of my best friends made me. My ‘blue’ was in the headband in my daughter’s hair as I carried her down the aisle. My ‘something borrowed’ was a bracelet from my mother.” Many of the items Dawn incorporated into her wedding details had sentimental attachments to family and friends.

Lucy also utilized this wedding rhyme as a way of honoring those who loved her along the way, sewing a piece of her mother’s wedding dress into her own and inviting her friends to write sweet messages on the bottoms of her shoes with a blue marker. Tracee extrapolated greater meaning from this simple verse, too, saying “My venue was the ‘old’—a beautiful Victorian heritage home with ‘Woman's Club’ in the title. It was like getting married in a time capsule of history, while still rocking blue Converse shoes that displayed my modern, do-anything personality.” She continues, “A wedding symbolizes being comfortable in both celebrating an ancient tradition and in starting a new future, two intertwined goals that are achieved by the saying ‘something old, something new.’ ” I really dig this interpretation.

Cindy, however, is not as convinced. “I didn't even think about caring about this rhyme,” she says. “Also I'm divorced now, but I'm 100 percent sure it's not because I ignored these ‘lucky’ traditions.” And then Cindy dropped the mic and sauntered off to happy hour. And so we have come full circle, and I bid you adieu.

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