How to Plan a Vintage-Themed Wedding

Vintage weddings are undeniably elegant and classic. Plus, nowadays, they’re actually…modern. The style of the wedding may be antique, but the idea is very contemporary. Your first step is to build an inspiration board. This way, you’ll be able to get a feel for the vintage elements that you truly love. Then, follow these planning tips when preparing for your super romantic, vintage-themed wedding. 

A Note Before We Begin...

“Vintage” can really refer to any time period between 1920 and the late 80s. When most brides say they want a “vintage wedding,” though, they’re usually referring to a 20s or 30s theme (think Gatsby). However, you definitely don’t have to stick to any one time period. Some brides throw in elements from the 20s all the way through the 50s and even later. There are also various styles that can still be considered vintage. Some brides want a glamorous, Hollywood-type wedding while others prefer a more rustic, English country wedding with vintage elements. Ultimately, your vintage wedding should reflect your taste and style as a couple - there are no hard and fast rules that you have to follow!

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Setting & Color Scheme

It’ll be difficult to plan a themed wedding if the venue doesn’t fit the motif. Consider having the ceremony in an Art Deco hotel or even in an extravagant home that’s decorated with candelabras, chandeliers and antique furniture. Or, find a venue that will give you a lot of leeway when it comes to decorating. If you’re having a small wedding, you can get away with having the reception in an art gallery or even in a really chic restaurant or bar. Remember, the closer your venue is to your theme, the less decor you’ll have to provide and set up. 

When it comes to your color scheme, you have a few options. You can go for a muted, neutral setting and choose shades of white, cream, light pink and brown. For a wedding with tons of glitz and glamour, consider a white and gold scheme. Or, you can make a more pronounced statement with a bold black and white wedding. As a rule of thumb, choose two main colors and one neutral to keep the look grounded. Too many colors won’t be pleasing to the eye, unless you combine an ombre palette with a neutral color. Whatever you decide, keep your colors in mind when choosing flowers, decor, table settings and stationery. 

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Photo courtesy of Brides.com

Attire and Hair Style

Your wedding gown can absolutely coincide with the theme of the evening - and it should! Consider wearing beaded French lace or a wedding gown that has elements of a flapper dress. Top off the look with a string of pearls. If it’s chilly out, stay warm by wearing an elegant fur wrap. If you find a dress you love but it just doesn’t look vintage-y enough, have a pro amp up the bustle with pearls and lace. To truly get a vintage look on your wedding day, wear long gloves. 

When it comes to finding a vintage gown and accessories, you have two choices. First, you can browse vintage shops, both in person and online, to see if you happen to come across the perfect dress. This may be tricky, though, since styles will be limited. Your second choice is to talk to modern wedding gown designers to find out if they have anything in the style you’re looking for. With the popularity of vintage weddings - and “The Great Gatsby” - more and more wedding designers are sprinkling vintage styles into the mix.

To keep up with a 1920s theme, have your hairstylist give you finger waves or a pinned up-do. Wear a vintage hair accessory, like a hair pin, feathered fascinator or antique hair comb. You can even wear a vintage hat, too, if only for an adorable photo op.

Decor & Florals

If you have enough time to browse antique shops, look for the following items:

  • Birdcages
  • Jam jars
  • Milk jugs
  • Teacups and saucers
  • Tin signs
  • Vases (some brides like the vases to have chipped enamel)

If you’re leaning toward an outdoor, vintage country wedding, have lanterns strung up. Also, make sure to not overcrowd the table with too many antique collectibles.

You can use these items to decorate the venue or to spruce up the reception tables. Having trouble finding great, vintage pieces? Ask your friends and family, or have them ask their parents and grandparents. Most people have at least a few antique furnishings and garments lying around.

The best flowers to go along with a vintage theme are antique colored roses, lilies or violets. You can use these flowers for the bridal bouquet, the bridesmaids’ bouquets, table centerpieces and even to decorate the cake. If you’d prefer to not decorate with flowers, consider using succulents, herbs or moss-filled terrariums in your centerpieces instead. 

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Photo courtesy of The Knot

Invitations & Guest Favors

Opt for traditional invitations that are made on an old fashioned letterpress - or at least look like they are - and that also have engravings. The rest of the items in your “paper suite” should fit the same style. Your suite includes save the dates, escort cards, place cards, ceremony programs and reception menus. Consider rolling up the programs into a scroll and securing them with a pretty satin ribbon.

If you’d like for guests to participate in the theme, make sure to mention in the invitation that vintage garb is suggested, but optional. To be extra nice, include a short list of vintage shops in the area. 

Great ideas for guest favors include:

  • Cigars for the guys
  • Custom milk bottles or miniature glass bottles
  • Deck of customized playing cards
  • Fudge
  • Lace handkerchiefs for the ladies
  • Muffin or sugar cookie mix
  • Personalized candy jars

A Few More Ideas and Tips

  • Serve strawberries and cream in tea cups during dessert.
  • Pose for a photo with an antique parasol.
  • Ask your band or DJ to play music from eras gone by.
  • Have guests sign the guest book with a quill pen.
  • Set up a beautiful bench and coffee table outside for photos.
  • Create a lounge area where the men (and women!) can puff away on cigars while sipping their drink.
  • Rent a vintage car to drive from the ceremony to the reception and then home at the end of the evening.