Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in your shoe
The rhyme originated in Victorian times although some of customs referred in it are much older.
The “something old” represents the couples friends who will hopefully remain close during the marriage. Traditionally this was old garter which given to the bride by a happily married woman in the hope that her happiness in marriage would be passed on to the new bride.
“Something new” symbolises the newlyweds’ happy and prosperous future.
The “something borrowed” is often lent by the bride’s family and is an item much valued by the family. The bride must return the item to ensure good luck.
The custom of the bride wearing “something blue” originated in ancient Israel where the bride wore a blue ribbon in her hair to represent fidelity.
The placing of a silver sixpence in the bride’s shoe was to ensure wealth in the couples married life. Today some brides substitute a penny in their shoe during the ceremony as silver sixpences are less common.
It is also unlucky for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before until she arrives at the ceremony.
WEDDING DRESS COLOUR
Most brides today marry in white which symbolises maidenhood. This tradition started by the rich in sixteenth century. The tradition was given a boost by Queen Victoria who chose to marry in white instead of silver which was the traditional colour of Royal brides.
The veil became popular in Britainin the eighteen hundreds. In this country it is associated with modesty and chastity.
In Jewish weddings there is a ritual where the groom ensures that the bride is his intended before placing the veil over her face.
ON THE WAY TO THE WEDDING
When the bride is ready to leave the house for the wedding ceremony a last look in the mirror will bring her good luck. Seeing a chimney sweep on the way to a wedding is though to bring good luck and it is still possible to hire one to attend wedding ceremonies. Other good luck omens when seen on the way to the ceremony include lambs, toads, spiders, black cats and rainbows.
THE COUPLE’S FIRST PURCHASE
It is said that the first partner who buys a new item after the wedding will be the dominant one in the relationship. Many brides ensure that they make the first purchase by arranging to buy a small item such as a pin from the chief bridesmaid immediately after the ceremony.
THE WEDDING CAKE
Cutting the wedding cake is now part of the ritual celebrations at the reception. The couple make the first cut together to symbolise their shared future.
Cakes have been associated with weddings throughout history. The Romans shared a cake during the wedding ceremony itself. This was not the rich fruit-cake we enjoy today. It was a plain confection made from wheat flour, salt and water. The Fijians and Some Native American tribes still incorporate cake in the wedding ceremonies.
In Britain early wedding cakes were flat and round and contained fruit and nuts which symbolise fertility.
Another old English custom was to place a ring in the wedding cake. The guest who found the ring in their piece of cake would be ensured happiness for the next year.
The shape of the modern three tiered iced cake is believed to have been inspired by the spire of Saint Bride’s Church in the City of London. It is said that unmarried guests who place a piece of wedding cake under their pillow before sleeping will increase there prospects of finding a partner and bridesmaids who do likewise will dream of their future husbands.
The top tier of the cake is often kept by couples for the christening of their first child.
Confetti is Italian for sweets which in Italy are thrown over the couple as they emerge from the Church in that same way we use paper confetti. Raisins and nuts may also be used.
Before the use of paper confetti the married couple were showered with flowers, petals, rice or grains. This was to bestow prosperity and fertility on the couple. Confetti also makes for a fantastic photography opportunity.
In the past there have been a number of customs involving shoes which were thought to bring good luck. The best known, which is still upheld, is to tie shoes to the back of the newlyweds’ car. This has evolved from the Tudor custom where guests would throw shoes at the newlywed couple. It was considered lucky if they or their carriage were hit.
The custom of the bride throwing her bouquet over her shoulder, as described below, was originally performed by her throwing one of her shoes over her shoulder.
After the wedding reception the bride throws her bouquet back over her shoulder where the unmarried female guest group together. Tradition holds that the one who catches the bouquet will be the next one of those present to marry.
A parallel custom is for the groom to remove the garter worn by the bride and throw it back over his shoulder toward the unmarried male guests. Again the one who catches it will be the next to marry.
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
After the wedding the bride must enter the new marital home through the main entrance. It is traditional for the groom to carry the bride over the threshold when they enter for the first time. It symbolises the old Anglo-Saxon custom of the groom stealing his bride and carrying her off.
THE BEST MAN
It is the best man’s duty to protect the groom from bad luck. He must ensure that once the groom has began his journey to the church he does not return for any reason. He must also arrange for the groom to carry a small mascot or charm in his pocket on the wedding day. When the best man is paying the church minister’s fee he should pay him an odd sum to bring luck to the couple.