Did You Have a Sixpence in Your Shoe?
When we moved my mother into our home several years ago, I was tasked with packing up all og her belongings. While going through every box and bag of saved memories, I found my wedding dress, shoes, cake topper, veil, and withered bridal bouquet. Today I ran across the shoebox that held my white satin wedding pumps (two sizes smaller, I might add!). When removing one of the shoes from the box, a coin fell out. It immediately took me back to the photo of my dad and me holding that shoe in my wedding pictures. At first I thought it was a dime but it was actually a sixpence. So I researched the history of putting a sixpence in your shoe on your wedding day and realized it was part of the Victorian-era rhyme, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe.”
Intrigued, I dug a bit deeper into the meaning behind this little saying. It is thought that the origin of the sixpence tradition began in the Middle Ages. People at that time were very superstitious and used good luck charms, from horseshoes to silver coins, to bring good luck to the marriage. It was custom in the 1600’s for the Lord of the Manor to give his bride a piece of silver as a wedding gift and a silver sixpence coin was symbolically used. The tradition of placing this British currency in the bride’s left shoe before walking down the aisle carries on the modern age wish of bringing good fortune, great wealth, and a happy marriage to the couple. The sixpence in my shoe may have spun its magic because my husband and I just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary. For all of you June (or July, or August and beyond…) brides, here are the meanings behind each part of this beloved bridal rhyme.
Represents the tie between the bride’s past and her family so the item used could be a grandmother’s handkerchief woven into the bouquet, a locket holding a picture of a loved one, your mother’s pearl necklace, or a wedding dress that has been passed down.
Represents optimism for the future married life of the bride and groom. The exchange of new wedding rings, your new married name embroidered into your gown, a new lipstick shade, or even a new wedding gown would be perfect choices.
Represents borrowed happiness from a family member or friend who is happily married with the hope that a long and happy marriage for the new couple will follow suit. These could be a friend's veil, a slip, or a pair of your mom’s earrings.
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Represents love, trust, loyalty, and is thought to keep bad spirits away. Ideas would be a piece of sapphire jewelry, blue hydrangeas in the bride’s bouquet, or a blue garter (that was my “something blue”).
...And a Sixpence in Your Shoe
the sixpence was first minted in 1551 during the reign of Edward VI and remained in circulation until 1980.