16 Classic Wedding Ideas You'll Still Love 20 Years From Now

For the bride who prefers timelessness over trends

Updated 01/30/19

Photo by Erich McVey Photography

Delicate white florals, plenty of lush greenery, light linens, and minimal decor: These tried and true wedding details will never go out of style. And if you're a bride who prefers timelessness over trends, we suggest planning your ceremony and reception in a classic wedding style. You won't have to worry about photos looking dated: When you and your partner look back on your wedding photos decades from now, you'll still be madly in love with these enduring wedding ideas.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to go classic for your big day, first compare your likes and dislikes to that of popular nuptial styles and themes, such as bohemian, modern, and rustic. If these beloved, popular themes are just not your cup of tea, then a classic wedding is probably the ideal choice for you and your big day. Often a more formal celebration, a classic wedding frequently features beautiful green and white florals, refined color schemes, plenty of clean lines, and sophisticated elegance. Translation: Total. Bridal. Bliss.

There are plenty of ways to incorporate a classic wedding theme into your big day. For wedding invitations, opt for romantic calligraphy. At the ceremony, you and your about-to-be spouse can recite more traditional wedding vows to add formality to the whole affair. Dance the night away to classic wedding songs, like Etta James's "At Last." And after dinner, dine on towering tiers of white buttercream—a popular feature of wedding cakes going way back.

For more examples of this elegant aesthetic, we asked the experts for their favorite classic wedding ideas that'll never go out of style.

01 of 16

Choose a Timeless Wedding Dress

Photo by Michelle Beller

“Cari wanted a wedding that was timeless, elegant, sophisticated, and free of trends,” says Lisa Gorjestani, principal of Details Event Planning, "the very definition of a classic wedding." When finalizing your day-of look, stick with a wedding dress design that’s seamlessly understated and stylish.

02 of 16

Go With a Classic Tent

Photo by Perez Photography

Having a dreamy outdoor tent wedding can be a great experience. “It presents the opportunity to curate the most classic and romantic setting for your ceremony,” says Mary Wright Shah, owner of Diamond Affairs Weddings & Special Events. A clear top structure for either your ceremony or reception space will allow for your design to take center stage.

03 of 16

Avoid Distracting Decor

Photo by J Wilkinson Co

A simple setting is sometimes the best background for a ceremony site, says Jeanann Wilkinson, owner of J Wilkinson Co. “This way, you’re able to focus on the nuptials of the couple,” she explains. Minimal draping and a sleek altar are all you need to achieve a classic wedding ceremony setting.

04 of 16

Embrace Calligraphed Details

Photo by Jose Villa

Lots of brides today are having fun with their escort displays, but tasteful calligraphed escort cards (as well as invitations and other stationery) will always be in style. “Choose a traditional style like Copperplate or Spencerian, and be sure to follow etiquette guidelines in addressing them properly,” advises Laurie Arons, founder of Laurie Arons Special Events. Present your calligraphed escort cards on a gold tray or antique piece to help them stand out.

05 of 16

Keep Your Design Clean and Streamlined

Photo by Norman & Blake

“Everything about this wedding was classic,” says Britt Cole and Francie Dorman, founders of 42 North. Streamlined and elegant, the table settings were kept simple with a clean, contemporary feel. “I love how in this photo you just see a peek of their hanging floral installation,” they add, regarding a hanging floral installation that added just the right amount of color to the reception space.

06 of 16

Consider a Neutral Color Palette

Photo by Larissa Cleveland Photography

Utilizing a neutral wedding color palette is an easy way to enhance both your venue and wedding design, no matter where you're saying your I do's. “For this wedding, we brought the indoors outside and transformed the Lommel Lawn to a sophisticated yet rustic dinner party setting with long statement dinner tables, plush seating, and outdoor lantern lights to set the mood,” says Janina Pineiro, weddings and events sales manager at Calistoga Ranch. The couple chose a neutral color palette which paired well with both the site and aesthetic.

07 of 16

Add to the Timeless Vibe With Classic Wedding Songs

Photo by Bashful Captures

“A letterpress invitation, crisp white cotton linens with candlelight and simple florals, and a band playing refined favorites all work to keep your concept simple, [and looking at true and tried traditions of the years before] will ensure you have a gorgeous classic wedding,” says Christine Viola, director of events at Exquisite Affairs Productions. Spin classic wedding songs such as Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight," "Something," by the Beatles, and "The Very Thought Of You" by Billie Holiday—or better yet, opt for a formal wedding band.

08 of 16

Craft a Custom Monogram

Photo by Lucy Cuneo

Consider investing in custom napkins with your new monogram for the head table of your reception space. “This instantly elevates any place setting, and the best part is that they become a keepsake!” says Lynn Easton, founder of Easton Events. If you’re looking for more of an old world–inspired dining experience, consider incorporating family heirloom pieces into your tabletop design.

09 of 16

Select a Blue and White Color Scheme

Photo by Liz Banfield

Want something with just a bit more pop than a totally neutral color palette? “Blue and white is the ultimate classic wedding palette,” says Liz Banfield, owner of Liz Banfield. Not only will a classic color scheme elegantly translate throughout your wedding photos, but pairing elements of your day with a timeless color scheme can inspire everything from your bridal party gowns to your reception table scape details.

10 of 16

Pay Homage to Tradition

Photo by Sean Gallery

“Our bride paid tribute to her mom with a wedding portrait, recreating the photo on the same staircase where her parents took their own wedding portraits 32 years earlier,” says Leslie Mastin, president of Leslie Mastin Events. “A moment unknown to guests but treasured in the family.”

11 of 16

Spotlight a Refined Menu

Photo by Isabelle Selby Photography

To accompany a classic wedding style, a sit-down dinner complete with an elegant menu will help highlight the sophistication of your event. “A visionary plate with vibrant colors followed by an elevated entrée of local ingredients is a stunning take on a classic menu,” says Carla Ruben, owner and creative director at Creative Edge Parties.

12 of 16

Tastefully Embellish an All-White Wedding Cake

Photo by Karen Hill Photography

Carry out your classic reception style with a cake that exemplifies elegance. “This minimalist, five-tiered cake adorned with vines of delicate white florals was the perfect complement to the couple’s classic wedding style,” says Danielle Elder, founder of Classic Events. You can still achieve an opulent display without overdoing it on overtly trendy decorations.

13 of 16

Arrange a White and Green Tablescape

Photo by Jose Villa

“What makes this wedding classic is the combination of the white and green color palette and the nostalgic floral ingredients,” explains Kathleen Deery, owner of Kathleen Deery Design, in describing how every component of this stunning table scape works together to achieve a timeless presentation.

14 of 16

Make Your Exit in a Classic Car

Photo by Erich McVey Photography

We love the addition of a classic car to give a wedding an extra wow factor. “Classic cars can be used to deliver the bride to the ceremony or as an unforgettable send-off for the bride and groom at the end of the evening,” says Cassidy Rae Rios, lead creative director and associate producer at Event of the Season. No matter how it is used, this addition is timeless and always makes for a great photo op.

15 of 16

Assemble Plenty of White Florals

Photo by Anna Delores Photography

“Nothing says timeless and traditional like a white floral!” says Vanessa Vierra, owner of Vanessa Noel Events. “Combining soft whites with natural hints of green keeps the overall style classic and refined, but still organic—the perfect combination of elegance and romance!” Vierra adds. Add crisp white flowers to your bouquet to create a stunning and elegant complement to your classic bridal style.

16 of 16

Customize a Ballroom Dance Floor

Photo by Ira Lippke Studios

“It’s important to highlight areas in your wedding that are of importance to you,” says Maya Katz, cofounder of Alimay Events when describing this couple's emphasis on creating a party atmosphere for their reception. A custom ballroom dance floor—with a distinct pattern—helped to create depth in both the atmosphere and wedding photos. “The geometric shape of this couple’s flooring choice served as a grand complement to the space,” Katz adds.

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