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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
Go for a Vintage Dress
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.
Decorate a Fountain
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.
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.
Repurpose Antique Furniture
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Set the Tone With Music
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!
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.
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
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.