How to Pull Off a Vintage Wedding

Are you aiming for a vintage wedding? Here we break down the best ways to research vintage wedding ideas.

By Nilina Mason-Campbell

How to Pull Off a Vintage Wedding
Photo by Ivonne Carlton Photography

If you’re looking to capture the golden era for your wedding, we put together a guide with tips on how best to pull off a vintage wedding, make it an instant classic, and create a timeless memory.

Inspiration

Research, research, research. Watch period films, hone in on specific celebrities from the past and order old yearbooks on eBay. Figure out what appeals most to you, and then utilize search engines to further build your knowledge of that era.

After you’re done researching your wedding inspiration and narrow the focus to a specific decade or even century, it’s time to pay attention to the specific key elements of your wedding and figure out how to best approach them so that they’re in line with a vintage feel.

Invitations

A surefire approach is to model your wedding correspondence after old documents. Think creatively about typeface, since fonts like Arial and papyrus are relatively new (they were created in the early 80s). If you’re looking for an especially classic font, go further back in time to stay true to the vintage wedding theme.

Styling

Rather than go off the rack for your wedding dress and groomswear, buy or borrow secondhand. And if you want to stay especially true, make sure to keep fit in mind. Impeccable tailoring is a must, but should still stay true to how clothes fit at the time. Accessories are equally important. The further you go back in time, you’ll notice the difference in how men used accessories like pocket squares, pocket watches, bow ties, and more. And never overlook eyewear—glasses are often one of the key indicators of time.

If you’re taking a looser approach to your vintage-themed wedding, invite your bridal party (and maybe even guests) to secure second-hand vintage dresses. Even if they’re not all from the same era, it’ll bring a fun visual to your wedding photos.

Decor

How to Pull Off a Vintage Wedding Photo Credit // Amanda May Photos

When it comes to a vintage wedding, a classic black and white color palette with hints of gold and silver is the safest way to go. Think about placing framed black and white family photos around the event. Arrange them around the guestbook, or display them as centerpieces at the reception. They don’t even have to be your family members. You can purchase lots of vintage photos online or at flea markets. You could even focus on picking particular wacky photos to bring a touch of whimsy.

The way people decorated in the past differs slightly from the present, so keep that in mind. For your reception, you can find vintage table runners and tablecloths or purchase vintage fabric and fashion them yourselves. Vintage lace draped across the table gives a warmer feel than simply using crisp white linen, though that would still fit.

Catering

Like clothing and haircuts, drinks go in and out of style. Look up old school cocktail recipes when creating your bar menu, and select drinks from a specific decade if there’s a certain block of years you’re looking to channel. When it comes to drinks, you can never go wrong with a Prohibition-era wedding theme.

Transportation

Rather than renting a black limousine for your transportation needs on the day of your wedding, look to book a classic car. Especially classy models include antique Ford models, vintage Rolls Royce, older Mini Coopers, or vintage Bentleys. Rolling up to your ceremony or driving off into the sunset via a vintage vehicle will only add to the vintage vibes you seek.

Where to Source

How to Pull Off a Vintage Wedding Photo Credit // Erika Follansbee

Resale Shops

Resale shops provide a more curated selection, which essentially streamlines and narrows your options, which can in turn cut down on time.

Thrift Shops

Hunt for bargains at your local thrift shop. You’ll likely need to mount a deep search, but the rewards are unparalleled—and you might even come across items you weren’t necessarily looking for, but become integral to your vintage theme.

Estate Sales

Timing is everything since estate sales tend to be especially prevalent during warmer months. To find upcoming estate sales, you can drive around your neighborhood looking for signs attached to utility poles, search for online listings, or turn to the classifieds in community newspapers.

Online Marketplaces

If you’re looking for something in particular, you can purchase the piece on sites like Craigslists, eBay, and Etsy.

Borrow

Cast a net out to your network via email and on social media to see if anyone has personal collections, heirlooms, or attics you can raid for your ceremony. A big perk: Approaching family and friends means whatever items you acquire will hold more meaning.

You know the saying: Something old, something borrowed… The classic rhyme is said to bring good luck to the couples who observe it and by having a vintage wedding, you’ll knock it out of the park.

Simplify Your Wedding Planning at Zola