Lifestyle Magazine

Coins and Weddings: An Ancient Tradition Made New

By Claire

In the run up to the big day, most brides will have the ‘some­thing old, some­thing new’ say­ing thrown their way quite a few times. It is a tra­di­tion which we are all famil­iar with, and many brides today still choose to col­lect the four items of the mantra for good luck. But did you know there are actu­ally five objects in the orig­i­nal rhyme? The full rhyme, dat­ing back to the Vic­to­rian era, is as follows:

Some­thing old, some­thing new,
some­thing bor­rowed, some­thing blue,
and a sil­ver six­pence in her shoe.

wedding shoes Travers and Brown

Wed­ding shoes — photo credit Corn­wall wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers Tra­vers & Brown

The place­ment of the coin in the bride’s shoe was thought to bring pros­per­ity to the future cou­ple. This con­nec­tion between coins and wed­dings is one which is actu­ally found across the world, and in some cul­tures coins are as much a part of the tra­di­tional as the rings and the white dress are to us.

A 16th cen­tury Eng­lish wed­ding tradition?

Although the rhyme is Vic­to­rian, an exam­i­na­tion of early mar­riage vows reveals that in Eng­land, the tra­di­tion could have existed as far back as the 16th cen­tury. The vows, first pub­lished in the Book of Com­mon Prayers in 1549, detail an exchange of rings, as well as ‘other tokens of spousage’ includ­ing ‘gold and sil­ver’. It was only two years after this, in 1551, that the first sil­ver six­pence was minted in Britain; so it is likely that these coins became a com­mon fea­ture in wed­ding cer­e­monies from this point onwards.

wedding rings

Wed­ding ring at Fred­die and Linzi’s wed­ding — photo credit Mandy Mead­ows

There are numer­ous exam­ples world­wide of coins hav­ing an inte­gral role in cer­e­monies. In Scot­land, it was often tra­di­tion for the groom to place a coin in his shoe, rather than the bride. An old Irish tra­di­tion was for the groom to present his bride with a coin just after the exchange of the ring, an action which was thought to sym­bol­ise finan­cial security.

This has been updated in mod­ern times to both bridge and groom pre­sent­ing one another with a coin fol­low­ing the rings.

Fur­ther afield, it is com­mon amongst Chris­t­ian His­panic com­mu­ni­ties for the new­ly­weds to receive thir­teen coins, rep­re­sent­ing Jesus and the twelve dis­ci­ples. In Indian cer­e­monies, the bride fre­quently scat­ters coins as she leaves her par­ents’ house to go and live with her hus­band. It is a sym­bolic ges­ture, express­ing her thanks for her par­ents’ gen­eros­ity and love up until that point.

Coins may not be a com­mon fea­ture in most West­ern wed­dings today, but The Royal Mint still design coins to be used as wed­ding gifts. A sil­ver six­pence makes an excel­lent alter­na­tive gift which is a nod towards tra­di­tion while also being quirky and unique.

Or, if you are hav­ing a tra­di­tional Eng­lish wed­ding then you may wish to incor­po­rate coins into the cer­e­mony itself to com­plete the five sym­bols of luck.

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