Bring the roaring ‘20s, glamorous ‘50s, and hippie ‘60s back to life.
Bride and Groom Kiss
We love the clean lines and simplicity of a contemporary wedding, but there’s something about a vintage wedding that really makes us swoon. Maybe it’s that there are so many different styles—i.e. decades!—to take inspiration from?!
Consider looking back to your favorite time period—the sparkle and dazzle of the roaring ‘20s, the Hollywood glamour of the ‘50s, or the hippie, boho vibes of the ‘60s. You could also draw inspiration from centuries past—the romance of the Victorian era, the colors of the Impressionist period, or the grandeur of the Renaissance.
Drawing from the past, a vintage wedding can be described as elegant, classic, and timeless. It’s a theme that will never go out of style.
No matter which historic moment you choose, there are so many ways to bring it to life in a vintage wedding. Look to your venue’s architecture when picking a ceremony backdrop, incorporate antique furniture into your reception area, or play up a distressed look or old-school drawings in your paper goods. You can even give your wedding look a vintage touch with a gown or hairstyle influenced by your favored era.
If you can’t decide when to step back in time, these vintage wedding ideas will inspire you.
Go for Gold
An invitation suite with botanical drawings in a dusty gold hue brings to mind an elegant wallpaper design, while a deckled edge softens the look. Just take this couple’s romantic invite as your vintage inspiration.
green and white invitations
Beautiful calligraphy goes a long way in evoking a vintage flair. Stamp all your paper goods, invitation suite included, with some scrawling script. For this timeless wedding in Napa Valley, this invitation set the tone for an event inspired by the South of France.
Mix Old and New
This fashion designer’s guipure lace gown takes cues from the Victorian era with long sleeves and a high neck, while a sheath silhouette has a more modern touch. So too do strappy sandals—the combination is the perfect mix of old and new.
Borrow a Vintage Car
Bride in car with bouquet
Make your something borrowed a vintage car! This bride—who looked beyond chic in Oscar de la Renta—rolled up to her church wedding in a 1971 Rolls Royce.
Channel Victorian Vibes
This bride was inspired by Bridgit Bardot and the Victorian era, opting for a classy style that flaunted her curves. An ivory corset and peplum waist, corded lace, and blush silk ribbon straps in the back accomplished just that. She paired the look with a vintage Victorian silk lace veil and vintage Chanel earrings.
Showcase Heirloom Jewelry
Whether your engagement ring is an antique or you’re borrowing precious jewels as your ‘something old’ or ‘something borrowed,’ make sure to capture the special stones on camera. You’re choosing to wear each piece for a reason, which means it is part of your wedding story.
Wear a Juliet Veil
Bride and groom recessional
The hallmark of a Juliet veil is its cloche style cap followed by trailing tulle. Pair it with a silver-embroidered gown of pearl accents and cap sleeves for a glam 1920s look.
Accessorize With Brooches
Brooches make for the perfect ‘something borrowed’ in a vintage wedding. Adorn your bouquet with two—one brooch from your side of the family, and one from your spouse’s.
Carry a Wildflower Bouquet
A bouquet of wildflowers comes alive in a flurry of purples, yellows, and pinks. It creates a laid back, bohemian bunch for some 1960s vibes.
Have a Handkerchief on Hand
Keep your *feelings* in check with a hanky on hand. Bonus points for a scalloped trim and embroidered message, which can either be sweet or funny. P.S. This pretty linen is from Etsy!
Carry Lily of the Valley
Lily of the valley is forever timeless, as this bride proved at her summer wedding in Maine.
Add a Subtle Note
Incorporate special quotes throughout the day-of details, as this couple did at their wedding in Detroit. Here, the bride’s bouquet was wrapped in a light-peach ribbon calligraphed with the words “I will always choose you.”
Pick Classic Boutonnieres
Classic white roses are both vintage and timeless, dating back centuries as the perfect final touch. Use them as boutonnieres and pair them with calligraphy name cards to complete the vintage flair.
Use Books as Props
Even if you’re not a book worm, you can add a touch of vintage vibes by incorporating worn books as photo props. Bonus points if they are the same palette as your florals.
Dress Your Party in White
bride with nieces
This adorable wedding party complements the bride’s lace Claire Pettibone gown with white BHLDN dresses that have a hint of vintage, whether it’s lace, chiffon, or a ruched neckline. Olive-branch flower crowns top off the look.
Provide Lace Parasols
If you’re having an outdoor wedding, lace parasols not only make an ode to the 1800s but provide guests with a way to shade themselves from the sun. Place them in baskets at the entrance to the ceremony for guests to grab before sitting.
Write Your Vows on Paper
The Couple’s Vows
Write your vows on paper for a memento for years to come. After exchanging them at the wedding, display them in your home as a reminder of the promises you made.
Frame a Vintage Door
Whether you’re marrying indoors or al fresco, a doorframe can help set the scene for a ceremony or reception. So, make like this Boulder couple, and mark the aisle with a vintage doorframe for your grand entrance and exit.
Make a Grand Entrance
A medieval gate adorned with lush flowers gives off old-world romance vibes that make. The result is a grand, fairytale entrance that every princess bride—even Kate Upton, as shown here—dreams of.
Arrange Mismatched Chairs
For an unexpected take on ceremony seating, consider mixing chairs of different styles and colors. Combined with a lush setting, these mismatched chairs make for a dreamy and elegant look.
Accentuate Your Setting
A destination villa is guaranteed to boast rich historic architecture for a dreamy wedding backdrop. Two renaissance sculptures flank an organic arch of eucalyptus and oak leaves stuffed with white roses and hydrangeas for a European-style altar.
Make a Giant Scroll Backdrop
Love letters come to life in this flowing ceremony backdrop. An oversized scroll featuring script in Italian evokes the elegance and romance of centuries past.
Decorate an Arbor
With a vision for a fairytale wedding, this couple decorated their ceremony site with a gazebo decorated in baby’s breath by L’Atelier Rouge. How romantic is that?!
Use Antique Furniture
Outdoor Altar for Atlanta wedding
A weathered wooden mantle, candles in modern hurricanes, Persian rugs, and mid-century furniture recreate a living room outdoors. Top off the mantle with a eucalyptus garland of burgundy and blush dahlias, ranunculus, hellebores, and roses.
Give Guests Flower Petals
Paper cones filled with magenta flower petals give guests something to throw as you exit your ceremony. It also adds a touch of romance and makes for beautiful wedding photographs.
Make a Grand Exit
Mark your exit as a married duo with an epic photo-op moment. Want to add a special touch? Have guests toss flower petals or rice (an eco-friendly option!) as you recess.
Have a Guest Book
In lieu of a traditional guest book, this California couple asked their guests to sign the backs of oversized Scrabble tiles. We love how elevated vintage accents (goblet, signage, tray) are coupled with a nod to the couple’s favorite game
Incorporate Old Trunks
Solidify your theme (in a retro-chic way) by adding a few vintage suitcases as side tables, as designer Jenn Sanchez did at this California wedding. With this idea, the trick is to lean more chic than kitschy so stick to your wedding color palette.
Set Up a Grazing Table
Entertain guests at cocktail hour by presenting them with a table of treats. Here, an antique table is wrapped in vines and topped with an array of cheeses for a station that’s both beautiful and practical.
Go for a Vintage Dress
bride and groom holding eachother engagement ring close-up
While you can always go vintage, we love the idea of switching up your look with a true vintage dress for the reception. Why not bring on the intricate beading and timeless silhouette with a fun party dress?! Talk about a dreamy vintage look.
Set Up a Bar Cart
No vintage wedding is complete without an old-fashioned bar cart. At this wedding, the groom curated it with his favorite whiskey selections, but we think any drink will do. A nice cocktail with a historic background—like the post-World War I sidecar or gimlet of the Roaring Twenties—would make a nice touch.
Opt for Bistro Chairs
reception seating round tables
Vintage ice cream parlor chairs with a twisted heart design take us back to the 1930s summers. Place them around circular tables in simple white linens for an outdoor bistro vibe.
Decorate a Fountain
Floral arrangements on fountains
Set the scene for cocktails by enhancing an aged fountain with garden roses and strands of orchids spilled from each tier. Even better: Add a jazz trio and strings of café lights, as this North Carolina couple did.
Fray Escort Cards
Frayed edges and sprawling calligraphy make these escort cards look like they’re made of parchment. Typewriter font completes the old-school look. String them all through ribbon or twine to create a decor display.
Incorporate Vintage Keys
This couple transformed skeleton keys into escort cards by staining pieces of reclaimed wood and screwing teacup hooks into the wood. They then tied each name to a key with a natural string. The result is pure vintage magic.
Appeal to the Senses
Tuck escort cards into wooden boxes filled with fragrant lavender for not just a fresh, pretty look but a scented touch. Surround them by taper candles and clusters of fruit and nuts for an autumnal vibe.
escort card table/display
Mix and match vases for a cohesive, effortless look. Acrylic cylinders and metallic urns brimming with wild green branches create a canopy-like feeling while white blooms speak garden glam.
Repurpose Antique Furniture
escort card table
Want a vintage look that’s unexpected? Try repurposing a piece of antique furniture by filling it with an abundance of flowers in your wedding color palette. We love how this couple displayed their escort cards in a flower bar of ranunculus, roses, and sweet peas.
Find a Stately Venue
Marrying in a historic venue? Take inspiration for your surroundings, as this couple did at The High Line Hotel in New York City by filling the space with banquet tables and silver candelabras.
Tent Your Reception
Candles Outside Tent
A vast tent creates an elegant, timeless reception area with a hint of drama and flair. Surround the entrance with scattered votives filled with flickering candles and vines for a glowing ambiance.
Create a Fairytale Tablescape
A moody, romantic table setting is purely enchanting with lush centerpieces, glowing candles, and string lighting twinkling from the trees. This single reception table curves beneath the trees, seating 100 guests in an intimate environment.
Select Vintage Tables
Pastel tones make for a dreamy reception dinner. A long vintage wooden table sits underneath a pergola adorned with eucalyptus and romantic gold-rimmed lanterns that accent the tablescape’s white and gold flatware.
Embrace a Floral Theme
Theme your reception tables around flowers. Floral tablecloths and wildflower centerpieces accented with candles, crystals, and china have a ‘tea room meets ‘60s vibe.’
Create a Cozy Environment
Layering can create the look (and feel!) of a well-loved tablescape, as shown here with linen runners, brass cutlery, vintage bottles filled with flowers, taper candles, and blue-and-white striped napkins from Stone Cold Fox.
Be Inspired by the Countryside
This U-shaped table setting has a strong Italian countryside feel. A garland of olive and oak branches intertwines among white tapered candles and slim vases housing olive branches, eucalyptus, and white delphinium.
Add a Monogram
Love a monogram? Consider personalizing linen dinner napkins with your new initials or guests’ individual names. Take this attention to detail to the next level adding an antique silver sterling napkin ring and stunning calligraphed card at each place setting. (At this wedding, the couple even added a fruity punch with pears foraged from the orchards at their venue.)
Highlight Family Traditions
Whether incorporating family heirlooms or favorites recipes, it’s important to honor your heritage on such a historic day. For example, at this at-home wedding in Rhode Island, the couple utilized the mother-of-the-brides tableware and gifted guests honey from their family farm as a favor.
Go for Organic Centerpieces
Elegance meets organic in an Italian countryside table setting featuring a gray runner, candelabras, and a textured centerpiece of piano roses, peonies, ranunculus, and Silverstone roses.
Let Art Inspire You
If you’re a lover of art, look to your favorite artist, style, or era for inspiration for florals and colors. At this intimate wedding in Italy, the color palette came from the paintings in the Dutch Masters’s style, while reception chairs played up the maximalist vibe with a garland of yellow ribbon and purple flowers.
Get Glam Chandeliers
Statement chandeliers hover over long wooden tables set with taper candles and low floral arrangements, exuding the perfect amount of romance with a grand vintage touch.
Incorporate Lace Linens
Lace tablecloths add romance to any room, but when paired with cloud-like tall arrangements of pastel-hued baby’s breath, they are pure vintage perfection.
Set the Tone With Music
bride playing the guitar live band
It’s no secret that music evokes memories of the past so play up the tunes on your big day. No matter your style—whether it’s a big brass brand or electric guitar—we say embrace your inner rockstar, and maybe even hop on stage for a set!
Have a Champagne Toast
OK, we blame Gatsby for this one but there’s something about a champagne toast that evokes a celebration from the past. Take this to the next level for your wedding-day toast, as this couple did, but making a tower of coupes—and adding twinkle lights above. Cheers!
Source a Vintage Cake Topper
Vintage wedding cakes are iconic for a reason. Those toppers! Those tiers! Play homage with yours by sourcing a vintage topper or family heirloom, as this couple did with a 1920s topper on a pleated fondant cake.
Serve a Cheesecake
Now this is a different kind of cheesecake. An indulgent display of various cheeses is just what a French-style wedding ordered. Accent them with berries and florals to soften the display’s look.
Use Silver Heirlooms
Lend your cake display a vintage look by accenting your confection with silver heirloom pieces. Here, the metallic gleam of the candelabra adds a glam feel to a rich single-layer chocolate drip cake.
Exit in Style
Decorated Getaway Car
End the night on a high note by decorating your getaway with sweet, homemade decorations like tin cans tied to ribbon and a handwritten banner. There’s nothing more special than a heartfelt (and DIY!) touch.
Want more vintage inspiration? Check out the link below for timeless looks from your favorite ladies of Downton Abbey.