Vintage weddings, inspired by decades past, are extremely popular at the moment. This fun retro trend shows no signs of slowing down. Perhaps it’s because there’s something so inherently romantic about classic cars, antique gold rings, old-fashioned china tea sets and lace.
The great thing about a vintage wedding theme is that it’s simple and easy to coordinate, yet highly effective. Vintage weddings work with almost any type of venue and colour scheme. Your parents, grandparents and other mature relatives will be only too happy to inspire you with photo albums from their own nuptials.
If you’re looking to get married in a style inspired by bygone days, look no further. We’ll explain exactly what a vintage wedding is, and everything you’ll need to pull off the theme successfully. Read on for our ultimate guide to vintage weddings!
What Is a Vintage Wedding?
If you’ve been planning your wedding for a while, you’ll almost certainly have seen the word ‘vintage’ floating around. Despite vintage referring to past fashions, it’s a very on-trend style right now. But what does vintage mean, and what exactly is a vintage wedding?
The word vintage is used to denote an artifact of the past, usually something of high quality. It can be used to refer to wine that has been maturing for decades, antique furniture, or a retro style of clothing. In the context of a wedding, a vintage theme is one where everything from your dress, to your decor, to your stationery is inspired by the past. Usually, vintage weddings get their style from a decade somewhere between the 1920s and 1970s. The most popular decades at the moment are the 1950s and 60s.
Why Should I Have a Vintage Wedding?
Vintage weddings can be cheaper than modern weddings. You can use hand-me-down wedding dresses, accessories, decorations and even rings. These can be donated or borrowed from family members, or bought second-hand for cheap. Wedding fashions change rapidly, but if you have a vintage wedding, nothing reused will look out of place.
But not everything you use really has to be old. As vintage is such a popular style, there are a wealth of mock-vintage wedding accessories available. These are things that are new, but simply designed to look old-fashioned.
Vintage weddings typically have a very simple, rustic look and feel to them. Hand-made items won’t look out of place, and you don’t need over-the-top decorations. Almost all wedding venues look fab with a vintage theme, and the style works with almost all color schemes, from pastels to autumn hues.
What Do I Need for a Vintage Wedding?
Not every single aspect of your wedding has to be vintage-themed. You can simply choose some key vintage elements and tie the rest of the day together with simplistic, neutral-toned or rustic accessories.
When considering your vintage wedding, bear in mind that you don’t necessarily have to choose real vintage objects, clothes and accessories that were made in the past. Just so long as they’re designed to look old, it doesn’t matter if they’re brand-new.
Vintage Wedding Dress
The dress is also a great place to start when planning a vintage wedding. Have a look online at wedding dresses of the past 100 years, and pick a decade that speaks to you.
Vintage wedding dresses are almost always white, off-white or ivory. They tend to have lots of lace, and they are usually more modest than modern dresses, covering up the chest and upper arms.
50s and 60s wedding dresses are usually tea-length and have an A-line shaped skirt. Dresses from the 40s and earlier have a thinner, more streamlined silhouette and tend to be floor-length or longer. Your chosen style can be used to inspire your bridesmaids’ dresses and your groom’s and groomsmen's suits.
Vintage Wedding Cake
Vintage wedding cakes usually follow the standard style of being white or off-white and multi-tiered (usually with three layers). Wedding cakes from decades past tended to be adorned with white ribbon and icing decorations, usually designed to look like flowers. They would have a cake topper in the shape of flowers, or a miniature of the bride and groom.
Naked wedding cakes also look fantastic at vintage weddings. These are simple sponge cakes that have no or very little icing. They’re usually adorned with flowers (either real or edible).
Vintage Wedding Food
Modern British wedding fayre usually follows a standard format of a three-course catered wedding breakfast, followed by a finger buffet at the evening reception.
But if you want your guests’ food to be inspired by your wedding theme, feel free to let your imagination run wild. Some great vintage wedding food ideas include:
● A sweet table designed to look like an old-fashioned sweet shop (striped paper bags, anyone?)
● Food vans inspired by retro funfairs - e.g. hot dog, candyfloss and ice cream stands
● Hog roast
● Picnic food, complete with checkered tablecloth and retro picnic basket (great if you’re having an outdoor wedding)
● Vintage afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, mini cakes, and scones with jam and clotted cream - don’t forget the tea, served in china tea sets!
● American 50s diner style burgers, fries and milkshakes
Vintage Wedding Entertainment
If live music is up your street, hire a band that specialises in the music of your chosen decade? 60s swing bands are great fun and will have your guests on their feet all night.
Or, why not find a classic 50s jukebox for hire, and set it up at your reception? Your guests will have great fun choosing their favourite classic hits to dance to.
As well as music, there are endless options for vintage entertainment. Set up a photo booth with old-fashioned accessories like hats, moustaches, bow-ties and spectacles. Retro funfair games, such as test-your-strength, hook-a-duck and the coconut shy are ever popular. Classic party games, like pass the parcel and pin the tail on the donkey, would suit a picnic or tea party inspired vintage wedding.
Vintage Wedding Venue
The classic vintage wedding venue is, of course, a church. Up until the Marriage Act 1994, all weddings in Britain were held in a church (or registry office). Receptions were usually held at the bride’s home or in a dance hall.
But you don’t have to stick to tradition: almost any wedding venue will suit a vintage wedding. Just try to avoid very modern-looking buildings, and venues that were built after your preferred decade.
Manor houses, castles, barns, cottages and country hotels make great vintage wedding venues. If you want to get married outside, a beach, forest or meadow would also work well.
Don’t forget the transport! It’s great fun to hire a classic car to take you to your chosen venue. Try to find a car that was made during the decade that inspired your wedding to really impress your guests.
Vintage Wedding Decoration Ideas
There are so many vintage-style wedding decorations available today that you’ll be spoilt for choice once you start shopping. Here are some of our favourite ideas for vintage wedding decor:
● For your floral decor, go with classic wedding flowers such as roses, and lots of greenery. Pastel colours such as dusky pink, pale yellow and orange work well.
● Fairy lights give a vintage and rustic feel to any wedding venue. Choose round or flower-shaped bulbs, or big oval shaped retro bulbs to really impress.
● Buntings and flags are great choices for a vintage wedding. Especially designs with lace or floral patterns, such as this personalised hearts and flowers bunting, available in pastel pink or green.
● For centerpieces and table accessories, go with classic decorations like big candles, lacy doilies, and flowers in glass vases. Willow-patterned and floral crockery also works well.
● Wall decorations could include old paintings and big, antique brass-framed mirrors.
If you’re hiring a ‘blank canvas’ wedding venue, you may also need to source your own furniture. This is a great opportunity if you’re having a vintage wedding. You can scour charity shops and antique stores to find vintage pieces such as leather sofas and carved oak tables.
Vintage Wedding Stationery
Choosing the perfect wedding stationery is important if you’re having a vintage wedding. Your save the dates and invitations will communicate the theme of your wedding to your guests. This will give them the opportunity to coordinate their outfits and gifts (if they choose to do so).
These delicate Chiffon and Lace invitations from Bride and Groom Direct are simple, affordable and ideal for a vintage wedding. If you fancy something a bit more out-there, the Ticket to Love invitations, designed to look like an old-fashioned cinema ticket, would fit the bill perfectly.
Don’t forget to coordinate your seating plan, table places, order of service and guest book. Your thank you cards are equally important - look out for anything with a floral or lace pattern and a loopy cursive font, like these Vintage Flowers thank you cards.