5 Top Tips For Your "Something Old"
By Lorna Urwin

20 September 2016

‘Something old’ is the most nostalgic part of the 19th century couplet ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue (and a sixpence in her shoe)’. This nod to history isn’t necessarily backward looking or stuck in the past. Rather, it looks forward - symbolising continuity between your single and married lives, especially continuity of family and loved ones.

Image by Sweet Events Photography

On one of the most significant days of your life, it can be really meaningful to pay homage to the people or events that have defined you. Here are 5 ideas for refashioning the past to create your perfect ‘something old’!

1/ Family history

Image by Ryon:Lockhart Photography

Many brides choose to carry down the aisle something that belonged or belongs to a family member. A piece of jewellery is the most popular choice, and with good reason. Jewellery is immensely versatile: it can be as subtle or bold as your taste dictates, play a big role (an heirloom engagement ring, for example) or a small one (some delicate earrings).

Jewellery can also be used in more creative ways (with permission, of course!). If you’re working with a seamstress, you could transform an old pearl necklace into beadwork for your dress. Or try repurposing an old piece of costume jewellery into a pretty hair accessory or a pin for your bouquet. 

Though items belonging to maternal figures are often favoured, this is by no means the only way to go! If it’s a male relative you want to honour, jewellery can still be a good choice (a chain or signet ring worn or attached to the bouquet) but any item that has meaning for them or you will do. Maybe a pocket watch or a handkerchief, carried in a clutch bag or a pocket in the lining of your dress. 

If you’d rather avoid jewellery, you can always give a nod to family history by carrying a small photo of your family member(s). This is particularly lovely when enclosed in a locket.

2/ Wedding day history

Image by Fineline Photography

In more superstitious times, brides often sought to wear something that had already been worn by a happy bride at her wedding. In this way the luck of the already happily married woman could be carried with the ‘old’ item into the new marriage. Even if you’re not superstitious, you can’t deny that the gift or loan of a wedding item – perhaps a veil, garter or a wedding cake topper - can be extremely useful (and thrifty!) as well as symbolic. This also casts more of a spotlight on the item than a trinket carried out of sight.

Borrowing a family member’s wedding dress is a grand gesture for your something old, but a subtler alternative is to take elements of an old design (like sleeves, a sash or embellishment) and incorporate them into your own dress. Similarly, you could take a small swatch of fabric from the older dress to sew into your own. 

3/ Your relationship history

Image by Sarah McEvoy Photography

For a sweet throwback to the history of your relationship with the lovely person you’re about to marry, carry an item signifying other milestones in your relationship. Ideas for this include wearing jewellery bought for you by your partner, something belonging to your partner or a trinket from those blissful days of early dating. You could also inscribe an important date (the date you met, began officially dating, moved in together) or significant words (a lyric to your song, a line from their favourite book) into something you’ll be wearing.

4/ Your personal history or taste

Images by Fineline Photography and Patina Photography

Of course, unlike with ‘something borrowed’, there’s nothing to say that your ‘something old’ should come from someone else. It can be far simpler to reach for something of your own. When Keira Knightley got married in 2013, her beautiful tulle Chanel dress was her something old. She has since said that she simply wanted to wear something that she’d always had a great time in. Wearing something with such happy associations is a really fun basis for your ‘something old’. Rummage through your wardrobe or jewellery box and narrow the selection down to where your happiest memories lie. Try each on for size as something you could incorporate into your wedding day style. Or, for something immediately evocative, think scent instead and wear a beloved perfume as your something old.

If your style favours vintage anyway, why not embrace that and go for ‘something old’ yet new to you? Wedding-related vintage can be particularly fun to track down, whether you’re looking for a stylish dress or veil, an antique posy holder for your bouquet or even an original silver sixpence for the last part of the rhyme (that can count as something old, too!). This is an opportunity to find a truly special vintage item to add to your collection, and maybe even hand down to future generations in weddings to come!

5/ Let someone else choose for you

Image by Sylvie Gil Photography

Last but not least, for a touching wedding-day surprise, ask a family member, or family members, to surprise you with something to fulfil this custom on your behalf. It will no doubt give them a tremendous amount of pride to be so closely involved in such a well-loved tradition and you can always give them loose guidelines for what to avoid if, for example, you’ve already selected the perfect necklace and don’t want to risk duplication.