Vintage can mean something different to every bride. For some, it brings to mind images of lace; others see hairpins and flapper skirts. From an art deco 1920s fete Jay Gatsby himself would throw to a ‘60s-inspired celebration that would make any hippie proud, there are a hundred unique vintage wedding theme ideas.
Show off your style by picking a decade, era, or trend of a pastime that speaks to you. Need a few ideas? We rounded up 15 vintage wedding decorations and wedding themes that will make a statement in the modern-day. If you were born for another time or simply enamored by it, one just may suit your fancy.
Lace is the epitome of vintage. And while there are plenty of modern takes on this favored fabric, it still gives a vintage glow to any gown. Channel the Victorian era with a lace gown that features a high neck or ruffled tiers. Or, reach for something with beaded embellishment on top of the lace and a sheath silhouette reminiscent of a 1920s theme wedding. But don’t stop there. Lace linens will help bring this theme home and give any wedding a solid vintage vibe
The ‘20s have a covetable essence to them. Maybe it’s the glam and rebellious nature of the new age in fashion and Gatsby-style parties. Just the mention of the ‘20s brings to mind crystal chandeliers, bejeweled headbands, and shiny vinyl floors—all things that suit a wedding. Embrace the Art Deco theme by opting for opulence at every turn—think silver and gold accents, crystal glassware, fancy fonts, and statement jewelry. If you want a black-tie wedding, this is the vintage theme for you.
The venue can be a powerful tool to shape the theme of your big day. Getting married at a 17th Century Italian villa or a mod hotel in Palm Springs? A place with architectural significance can instantly give your wedding a vintage vibe. Embrace the era in which your venue was built (or was inspired by) and accentuate it. For instance, add plenty of fabric draping, jewel tones, and candlelight to an ancient stone castle to emphasize its regal appeal, or decorate with movie reels and serve up a candy bar to play up a retro movie theater.
For a wedding that would turn as many heads a few centuries ago as it does today, consider vintage wedding decor inspired by the Victorian era, or the latter half of the 19th century. Bring in parasols for the ladies, top hats for the men, and be prepared to don a corset. As for vintage wedding decor, choose roses for floral arrangements, elegant gold table decor, and fine china dinnerware. Don’t skimp on stationery, either—embrace traditional calligraphy and ivory paper to signal your theme from the start. To end the night in true Victorian fashion, make your exit in a horse-drawn carriage to cheers from guests as you give a regal wave goodbye.
It’s hard to find a full set of truly vintage china—pieces break or go missing over time—so it’s only right that a vintage themed wedding should have mismatched dishes. There are plenty of vintage rental companies today that make this easy. They offer a wide selection of colors and styles in everything from chargers to wine glasses that will make mixing and matching both simple and fun. This eclectic table display will not only give your wedding a proper vintage feel, but also make each place setting especially unique.
If none of these vintage themes are doing it for you, consider dating even farther back to Medieval times. Celebrations back then were royal and festive in nature, so consider a jewel tone color palette, crowns, and long wooden tables lined with fabric runners. A buffet feast would also be typical, so don’t shy away from plenty of meat and cheese boards, fresh bread, an array of desserts, and wine... lots of wine. To truly take this theme home, opt for a richly-colored gown— white didn’t become the norm for brides until hundreds of years later.
Are you and your fiancé having a destination wedding, or do you love to travel? Incorporate vintage trunks and luggage into your big day to function as wedding decor or even end tables. Globes, stamps, and luggage tags also serve as decor that’s in sync with both vintage and travel themes. Tie it all together by giving guests a boarding pass invitation and sending them home with a souvenir from the wedding locale.
From fashion, to tableware, to stationery, a great floral design is key to making your wedding look vintage. Muted tones and smaller prints are the most vintage in feel and are easy to come by in dresses, ties, linens, and stationery alike. Plus, whether they match or not, vintage floral colors and prints look good paired together, so you can layer as many as you like. Don’t forget to add floral motifs to your invitations and day-of paper goods to give them an elegant vintage flair that is both romantic and sweet.
Embrace the mod trend of the 1960s with a short-style dress, bright colors, and geometric prints. This theme complements contemporary venues with clean lines, as well as those with ‘60s builds like many of the resorts in popular destination wedding locales like Palm Springs. Accentuate the decade’s flair with chairs and lounge furniture from the time period, bubbly fonts, and miniature floral arrangements.
An old library is romantic and elegant, and theming your wedding after one means you get free rein to incorporate all the love quotes you like, without being even the slightest bit cheesy. The rich hues and neutral tones of the setting also make it the perfect intimate wedding venue. It says stately and smart in an understated way. Even if you can’t find an actual library to house your wedding, you can bring the vibe to any space. Decorate with old books, clocks, and bud vases to achieve the essence and scent of a true library. You can even consider incorporating a cigar and brandy bar to match the old-fashioned feel. A sophisticated suit, timepiece, and pair of brogues for the groom and a silk gown in a drapey silhouette for the bride will suit the scene just perfectly.
Well worn pieces, such as raw farm tables, oxidized copper gates, and worn wood doors all add character to traditional wedding setups. Plus, you can pick out pieces specific to the decade or style of your big day. Vintage furniture can be rented, but don’t overlook pieces you may already have at home. By using your family’s own antiques, you have the unique opportunity to further personalize your wedding day.
Music is the ultimate vibe-setter and nothing says vintage-themed wedding like a string quartet. Most string quartets can play modern music, too, but feel free to request only the classics for a truly vintage feel.
Think vinyl records, old-fashioned soda bottles, and a retro getaway car that would make Danny Zuko proud. And no, the girls don’t have to show up in poodle skirts, nor the guys in leather. You can totally achieve this vintage theme without the cheese. Focus on the elegant wedding-worthy aspects of the era, such as Marylyn Monroe style waves, Audrey Hepburn pearls, and big band music. For colors, opt for pretty pastel hues, or classic black and white with a pop of corvette red.
Whether you display old wedding photos and family portraits or use Champagne flutes that have been passed down throughout the generations, family heirlooms are a meaningful way to add a vintage feel to your wedding day. You can incorporate them throughout the wedding reception as table decor or keep them safe in one spot, such as near the guest book for guests to admire during cocktail hour.
Steal the night away in style with more than just a sparkler exit. A vintage ride is not only a fun getaway car, but also perfect for photo-ops. There’s something so romantic about sunset photos in a vintage convertible. String the trunk with a “Just Married” banner, and you’ll be riding away from your vintage wedding day in perfect step with the theme.
Which vintage wedding theme speaks to you? If one of these styles makes you yearn to be wed in a bygone era, don’t be shy about embracing the vintage vibe. When executed well, all of these styles transcend time and place, ensuring your wedding day lives on to inspire brides of future generations.