Vintage weddings are continuously popular amongst our modern couples, and vintage is the theme that came out on top in Confetti’s 2014 Wedding Report. Part of the allure is the vast possibilities in everything from wedding dresses to wedding decorations—it’s easy for couples to put their own stamp on their celebration. Because there’s such a wealth of inspiration, today we look at some of our favourite vintage wedding ideas and give you some advice about how to negotiate such an enormous treasure-trove of information.
Looking for Vintage Wedding Ideas
If you’re dreaming of a vintage wedding, the first thing we’d recommend is to look at what era you’d like—“vintage” can mean any number of things these days, conjuring visions of colourful retro flair for one person and antique Victorian beauty for another. Once you have your era it’s then far easier to look for vintage wedding ideas that are suitable for you.
All eras have their own feel and work as something like a sub-theme to your vintage wedding. They include, but aren’t limited to, the lavish 1920s and 30s, the swinging 1960s and everything in between. Your vintage wedding can be simple or extravagant—one with selective hints of your chosen decade or an all-out representation.
Vintage Wedding Venues
Bishopstrow hotel and spa external shots across the gardens.
For vintage weddings, country houses, mansions, castles, grand hotels, or even luxury galleries, are perfect locations. The architecture, decor and furnishing is often tied to the period for which the venue is renowned, like the above Bishopstrow Country House Hotel—it was built back in the early 1800s. If you have opted for a specific era, you may want to look for venues from that period too, though this isn’t essential. Vintage weddings are at home in historic venues, whether you choose to have your celebration indoors in a function room, hall, or ballroom, or outdoors under the trees or in a comfortable marquee.
Vintage Wedding Decorations
For vintage decorations, look closely at what materials have been traditionally popular. A popular material is lace, which goes beautifully with pearls and sparkling glassware. Tarnished metal and antique-finished wood is also a big trend, but in old vintage themes a lot of couples opt for burlap or hessian, and twine.
A selection of vintage wedding decorations available from the Confetti shop.
Your centrepieces can be anything you can think of. Vases of flowers are a traditional option, but for an impact you should get creative. Use piled old books, drawers, and suitcases for an old vintage look—use them as platforms that you can raise bottles, vases, and candles on. For a retro vintage look, use tins and woven baskets.
Vintage Wedding Fashion and Accessories
The fashion items and accessories you decide on will rely heavily on the vintage era you have chosen. For the 1950s, for example, you’ll want a short, tea length dress and a smart suit, and for the 1920s you’ll be looking at the art deco, flapper fashion—straight shift dresses, sleek, short hair, and crisp white suits.
In the broad term of vintage fashion, many brides opt for a lace wedding dress or a dress passed down from another family member, with antique jewellery to finish. But there are fantastic designers these days who recreate the vintage look beautifully. The main thing is that you look carefully and decide on something you want, and that you feel comfortable in.
However, the dress, despite being one of the big items on the wedding planning list, is not everything. Choosing the correct accessories goes a long way. Hairpieces and jewellery from your chosen era adds authenticity to your theme. If you’re working on a budget, great places for vintage bridesmaid fashion are charity shops and car boot sales. You might be amazed at what you can find, and it by no means gives the impression that you’re being “cheap”.
Vintage Wedding Hair and Makeup
When it comes to searching for a hair and makeup artist, once again it will be up to you to research thoroughly. Different suppliers will give you different offers, and have different skills. Once you do decide on a hair and makeup artist, you should be open with what you want and work closely with them. Create a folder of styles you like—the internet is a vast resource, and movies are great inspiration too—and show them to your supplier. Also, ask them to meet with you a month or more before the wedding day. This gives you an opportunity to experiment with ideas and find out what works best for you.
Wedding hair and makeup by Anne Veck.
It’s a good idea to let your hair and makeup artist know what you’ll be wearing on the wedding day, including your wedding dress, your jewellery, your headwear, and perhaps even the colours of your bouquet. Hairstyles and makeup colours will have to work around your accessories so that all of them come together to complete your look naturally.
Vintage Wedding Stationery
Vintage wedding stationery is relatively easy to choose if you look to your chosen era for inspiration. For pre-1900s you could look at elegant script fonts and parchments, and your wording will be chosen with care. Back then, etiquette was a very big deal. For a little later, such as the pre- and post-war decades, telegrams and bold, vivid lettering (like that seen in advertising) was common.
A selection of wedding stationery ideas from the Confetti shop.
Here, DIY comes into play again. Even with a small personalisation like tea staining or wrapping your stationery in a length of fabric will help to reflect your chosen theme. And as with menus, table numbers, or seating plans, the way your stationery is presented makes a big difference—will you lie them flat on the table? Prop them up on a decorative stand? Will you send your invitations by standard post with a standard stamp or seal them with a wax seal? Be creative!
Vintage Wedding Transport
Vintage wedding transport is often tied with the idea of a horse and carriage or an old-fashioned car—perfect, because they come in a range of styles and will certainly be suitable for any couple! But you don’t have to stick to the traditional. A steam train, river barge, bicycle, or even a hot air balloon, are only a few interesting transport alternatives. You must think of your guests too—if you must all travel from, for example, the church to the reception, you could hire a bus to take them all together.
But don’t worry if you can’t get era-based transportation. You may find that it’s just enough to decorate your wedding transport in order to have it reflect your theme.
Vintage Wedding Music and Entertainment
When choosing your wedding music, you’ll probably want to look at the era you’ve chosen for something authentic. E.g. a live jazz band for a ‘20s wedding, and an instrumental quartet for a pre-1900s wedding. But don’t feel obliged to stick to your theme like glue once the after party starts—it won’t shatter the mood if you shake up your wedding music by allowing a bit of a disco. (For other elements of your wedding, like wedding catering, you may want to be a bit stricter; gourmet, 3-course meals echo vintage far better than a burger and chips will.)
The bride and groom dance to a live jazz band in Laura and Kriss’ Real Wedding by Douglas Fry.
For entertainment, you can add a vintage twist with dancing lessons—if you have a clear open space, like a ballroom or a large disco floor, you can get everybody to take part. And your choice of dance style or accompanying music will keep your vintage theme alive. Other entertainment possibilities include games or sports, like old-fashioned croquet or a small maze, and more common forms of entertainment such as a magician.
Vintage Wedding Photography and Videography
Your wedding photographs and video are your lasting souvenirs of your wedding day, fused with memories that you will look back on fondly for years to come. It may not be immediately obvious how you can gain a vintage spin on your photos and video, but one immediate way is to have your look and location right. If the objects of the photo reflect the vintage theme, you have a vintage photo right off the bat. Think about famous books and movies too, and perhaps you can recreate a significant pose from famous vintage movies like Gone With the Wind.
Wedding photography by Clearvision Imagery Weddings.
You might also want to speak to your photographer (and videographer) about mimicking the style of the era you chose, like the colourful 40s and 50s advertisements, the black and white of the early 1900s, or the yellowish sepia of the photos even before then.
The photographs and videos are not the end of it though. The way you display them afterward is also important. Think about the photo book/gallery style you’d like, and the layout and presentation of your photos. For your video, look at the disc sticker, leaflet, and box design.
So, there are many ways for you to style your vintage wedding, all stemming from the type of vintage wedding that you want. The key is to research all options, and draw inspiration from an era of your choice.
Leanne is one of Confetti's article writers. She enjoys being a highly creative person with a life-long passion for art and creative writing; she has a determined dream of becoming a published author. She values giving help and advice to everyone she can, and loves talking to new people.