These days it is common to associate diamonds with engagement rings, and wedding lists with wedding gifts from guests…but both of these ‘traditions’ are modern inventions.
De Beers, a diamond mining conglomerate, launched an advertising campaign promoting diamond engagement rings in the 1930s. The campaign, which used the slogan “A diamond is forever”, was devised by advertising agency N.W. Ayer & Son and was fantastically successful, changing the way the world bought diamonds.
Similarly, the idea of a bridal registry, or wedding gift list, was invented in 1924 by department store Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s). Although many people choose not to use a prescribed gift list it is a concept that has gained great popularity in recent times.
Against such recent innovations, it is interesting to reflect on the fact that coins are ‘the original wedding gift’, with a tradition stretching back over thousands of years. Roman grammarian Nonius Marcellus stated that,
…coins are ‘the original wedding gift’
…the Roman bride “by way of an old Roman custom” carried three coins: one for her husband, one for the Lares Familiares, and one for the Lares of the neighbouring crossroads.
(Source: The Roman Wedding: Ritual and Meaning in Antiquity By Karen K. Hersch, Cambridge, 2010)
There are a wealth of traditional opportunities to give coins as wedding gifts. Below we list some of the more common. If you have your own, please leave a comment below!
Something old, something new…
The traditional marriage rhyme that people used in Victorian times was,
and a sixpence in her shoe.
Each part of the rhyme had a strong cultural significance:
Something Old – something that recognises the continuity of the bride’s family line. This would typically be a gift from the mother or grandmother, perhaps a piece of jewellery or a piece of lace or silk from her wedding dress.
Something New – looking to the future and celebrating the present, the new item may be the wedding dress, but could equally be represented by fresh flowers or the rings.
Something Borrowed – borrowing something from friends or family recognises the support they have to offer the bride. The item has to be borrowed from a happily married friend or family member, as an indication of the security and stableness that a married woman can provide to others. This item must always be returned after the wedding, and may be something that the lender wore on her own wedding day.
Something Blue – the colour blue holds deep cultural significance and has long been regarded as the colour of constancy, loyalty, and purity. The heavens and the oceans are blue, the Virgin Mary’s robes are always portrayed in blue, and Roman brides wore blue. In modern times the blue item is often a garter, but this is open to interpretation and you can be as creative as you like!
A silver sixpence in her shoe – And finally, a silver sixpence in the bride’s shoe represents wealth and financial security. This long standing tradition is often overlooked, but it was an important part of the whole.
Giving a sixpence today offers a rare opportunity to delight and surprise the bride who thought she had everything.
For more, view our blog post on International wedding coin traditions
Give a coin as a Wedding gift
It makes a wonderful traditional wedding gift.
You can buy The Royal Mint sixpence directly and securely from our website.