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Victorian Wedding Traditions Part 1, by Funk Conspiracy

Ever wondered where the ‘Something old, Something new‘ rhyme comes from? Why do you wear a white wedding dress? Why wear a veil?

Funk Conspiracy bring you an interesting and factual guide to some popular wedding traditions and customs with a bit of history of where they come from. Most of these traditions are actually superstitions and although they date back to Victorian times, have an older history.

Something Old, Something New:

The well known rhyme originated in Victorian times although some of the customs it refers to date from long before.

“Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in your shoe.”

‘Something old’ represents friends of the couple who will remain close to them during the marriage. Traditionally this was an old garter that was 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.

‘Something borrowed’ is often lent to the bride by her family and is an item of high value. 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 last line of the rhyme is not as well known. 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.

Wedding dress colour:

Most brides today marry in white which symbolises maidenhood. This tradition began in the sixteenth century. The tradition was given a boost by Queen Victoria who chose to marry in white instead of the silver that was the traditional colour of Royal brides. Before a white dress became traditional, brides wore their best dress, of which the colour was a matter of preference. This rhyme offered advice on dress colour:

“Married in White, you have chosen right,
Married in Blue, your love will always be true,
Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
Married in Brown, you will live in town,
Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in Pink, your spirit will sink,
Married in Grey, you will go far away,
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back.”

In Victorian times, no one married in a red wedding dress!

The veil:

The veil became popular in Britain in the 1800’s. The traditions associated with wearing a wedding veil date back to Roman times where it was thought that it would disguise the bride and outwit evil spirits. It was a symbol of protection.

Check the next article for answers to questions like why we have confetti and the importance of the wedding cake!

Written by Navella Caretto.

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