While modern weddings with clean lines, minimalist designs, and neutral color palettes are trending in the wedding world, retro styles that mirror a past time period will forever be popular. Although they’ve already had their moment in history, turning back the clock with a retro wedding theme will transport your guests to a different decade, which provides a fun and nostalgic escape. Whether it’s the glitz and glamour of the 1920s, the bohemian vibes of the 1960s, or the maximalism and eclectic style of the 1970s, there are so many eras to draw inspiration from.
If you’re hosting a retro celebration, your invitations are the best way to introduce your friends and family to your theme. When designing your pieces of stationery, you can choose certain fonts, colors, patterns, and textures that are reminiscent of the era you want to recreate. For instance, gilded details on a black background will capture the Art Deco styles of the 1920s and 1930s, while colorful cards featuring abstract shapes will play up the 1980s.
No matter what time period you intend on replicating, here are 16 retro wedding invitation ideas that will help set the scene.
Get Inspired by Old Hollywood
If you’re throwing a wedding inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood, just like this couple did for their California nuptials, use your invitations to establish a sense of place. Pieces of stationery in shades of black-and-white will exude the elevated glamour and sophistication of Old Hollywood. You can even include a pop of gold to drive your theme home.
Look to the Disco Era
For a 1970s-themed soirée like this couple's disco-themed wedding in Palm Springs, start the celebration off on a groovy note with colorful invitations. To bring the eclectic styles, striking shades, and free-spirited nature of the decade to life, seal each invite in a pink, yellow, or purple envelope decorated with confetti and marked with the phrase “Let's Celebrate!” The palm tree motif suits a beachy destination, whether it’s Palm Springs or Aruba.
Embrace Vibrant Hues
Interior design in the 1980s was known for bright, bold colors and unconventional shapes, so incorporate those details into your stationery suite to duplicate the decade. For this retro wedding in San Diego, the couple opted to send out invites in shades of purple, peach, green, and terracotta, which were paired with a squiggly edge on the RSVPs, a geometric pattern on the inside of the envelopes, and a circular shape on the front of the cards. The details came together to nod to the era while grabbing guests’ attention.
Infuse a Touch of Art Deco
For those who want to throw a party in true Gatsby fashion, selecting invitations with an Art Deco style will capture the extravagance that marks the Roaring ‘20s. Black cards with gold font and ornate adornments featuring sharp lines and geometry are the best choice for a lavish soirée.
Go for Mid-Century Modern
Mid-century modern styles rose to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s, but the look is having a resurgence right now—including wedding aesthetics. To transfer guests to this point in time, this couple chose minimalist invitations with a solid background for their mid-century modern nuptials in California. Similarly relaying information in black typeface on pink pieces of paper sans add-ons will emphasize the functionality and simplicity that dominated this period.
Seal Them With a Deckle-Edge
Whether you’re fascinated by the romance of the Renaissance era or the luxury of the Regency period, a vintage theme will play up history. Produce an old-world flair with thick, worn pieces of paper featuring a deckle-edge for your invitations. As the finishing touch, communicate the details in decorative hand-calligraphy.
Include Bold Graphics
In addition to color, graphics are also a defining feature of the ‘80s. Latticework stamped with your monogrammed initials will provide visual intrigue for an ‘80s-inspired stationery suite, which is exactly what this couple chose for their throwback wedding in Palm Springs. Bright orange envelopes and pops of chartreuse also tie this look together.
Reference Your Locale
Are you throwing a retro celebration in a far-off destination? Turn to a past event in the region to inform your stationery design. For this wedding in Mexico City, the couple drew inspiration from the 1968 Olympics—which took place in the same spot 40 years earlier—for their invitations. The logo for the games was a retro font that they replicated with bubble letters and neon shades.
Honor Queen Victoria’s Reign
A Victorian-themed affair will allow everyone to channel their inner royalty. To establish this aesthetic right off the bat, include detailed sketches that would realistically exist during Queen Victoria’s reign as the monarch of Great Britain. A black-and-white palette will add a moody twist.
Add Metallic Accents
For an unexpected twist on Art Deco, integrate the style’s gilded accents and sleek lines into your invitations, juxtaposed with pastel pink-and-green cards for a light-and-airy feel. At this couple’s wedding in Cancun, they supplemented the design by mailing a vintage map of their destination and placed old stamps on the envelopes.
Play With Watercolors
Watercolor accents add an artistic touch to any invitation, especially retro ones. With splashes of paint, gold foil, elegant calligraphy, and parchment paper, these pieces of stationery are reminiscent of a vintage painting.
Integrate a Vintage Postcard
If you’re turning back time and planning a vintage-inspired Western wedding, use a retro postcard to unveil the setting, just as this couple did for their nuptials in Montana. To reinforce this detail, feature a painting of the landscape on your envelope lining, and bring the local flora and fauna to your design.
Accentuate With Artwork
Custom illustrations will enhance your invitations for a mid-century modern gathering. Do as this couple did for their Arizona nuptials and introduce the design concept with a retro font and work in art that pays homage to your locale. These floral-inspired paintings work well for a vintage wedding at a garden venue.
Incorporate Fun Shapes
With linear drawings and eye-catching colors, this couple's invitation suite (which they sent for their colorful Austin wedding) throws it right back at the ‘80s. Lining the inside of your envelopes with an arched illustration and painting each card in a unique palette will hint at the theme and stand apart from the stack.
Recreate the Scenery
For a seaside ceremony that has a 1960s vibe, paint the waterfront scenery on your invitations. A color scheme of blue and yellow emits a laid-back, comforting vibe, while the vintage typeface and pared-back drawing augment the theme.
Turn Back Time With the Postage
Antique stamps will speak volumes about the time period you’re trying to mimic. Postage that pictures anything, from the New York City skyline to a coastal landscape, will give insight into the time and place. Handmade paper with a feathered edge also generates an old-world feel in this stationery suite.