Even when sticking to tradition, a Bride has a lot of choices for wedding clothing. But have you ever wondered where some of those traditional dress themes came from?
Only the wealthy could have specific occasion clothing in medieval and renaissance times so hard-to-get colours such as crimson, purple and royal blue were popular for weddings. British Queens in 1499, 1530 and 1538 defied traditions by marrying in white. In Elizabethan times, white represented pure, young maidenhood and was worn by some Brides. However, it wasn't until Queen Victoria wore a white wedding dress that the current tradition began. Reserving white for virginal Brides only isn't an old tradition.
Wedding gowns used to be much simpler than many seen today – partially because they were to be worn more often than on the wedding day. Poor Brides dressed in very simple robes to show the groom she came with nothing, including no debts for him to shoulder.
One tradition states a Bride must never wear a completed dress prior to her wedding – many dressmakers facilitate this by leaving hems unfinished until after the final fitting – nor make her own dress. Other means of bestowing luck onto the Bride include sewing a hair into the dress' hem or having a drop of blood on an inner seam of the dress. And, of course, the groom should not see the Bride on the day until the ceremony.
Something old, Something new,
Something borrowed, Something blue,
A silver sixpence in her shoe.
This saying began in the Victorian period also.
Based on wearing a treasured item from an ancestor to represent the family's blessing on the union and the durability of marriage, often it is an old piece of jewellery for the Bride to wear, but it can be as simple as a piece of lace sewn inside the dress.
The Bride is heading into a new life and wants good fortune and success. Something new can be the dress itself (some believe wearing someone else's dress will bring the Bride troubles) the ring or some jewellery. Having both something new and old forms a link between past good fortunes and the present.
Carrying something belonging to a happily married woman is said to give the Bride happiness in her marriage. It can be as simple as a borrowed hanky tucked into a sleeve. Something Blue Blue is the colour of faithfulness, purity and represents the Virgin Mary to many people. Incorporating blue into the Bride's outfit isn't hard and can be a lot of fun! It can be discrete, such a blue ribbon on the garter, blue ribbon sewn into a hem or blue underwear. Or it can be visible, such as blue in the bouquet (either a flower, a butterfly or some little object in with the flowers,) blue shoes (or with a blue trim,) blue nail polish, a blue veil or the very obvious blue dress!
A Silver Sixpence in her Shoe
Wearing money in her shoe is believed to ensure the couple will always have enough money. A sixpence is hard to find, so any silver coin can be substituted. This part of the rhyme is based on ancient Greek Brides carrying three coins on their wedding days – one for her new Mother-in-Law, one for the first person she sees after the wedding and one to take into her new home as a wealth blessing.
For her last time as a single girl, the Bride should leave home by stepping out onto her right foot for luck. Anglo Saxon fathers used to give the groom one of the Bride's shoes with which the groom would hit his Bride's head with as a symbol of passing authority from Father to Husband. Alternatively, the groom was given a pair of her shoes to represent his responsibility for the Bride's upkeep. These traditions have evolved into tying an old shoe onto the honeymoon car for good luck.