Retro from head to toe: 19 tips for vintage inspired weddings
When it comes to weddings, we’ve all got our own unique version of the perfect fairytale. Some couples may want the new and the now, but of course at Lady V we’re all about expressing our style through love of vintage – so why should that stop with the biggest party of your life?! It most certainly shouldn’t in our eyes. So that’s why we’re talking all things vintage, retro and extra fabulous for brides, maids and beyond.
We even asked some of our favourite vintage-loving, retro style addict bloggers to weigh in with their must-have tips. And they definitely delivered!
Find your aesthetic
Not just as the bride, but as a couple, it’s important to nail down what elements of vintage and retro inspiration tickle your fancy. It’s so much easier to plan when you’ve found the look you’re after, as Nena Moreno knows:
“My all-time favorite and best tip for a vintage wedding is to select a particular era that reflects your style. There are many styles within vintage to pick from which can be overwhelming, so by narrowing it down to an era it will assist immensely when making selections. This will give the ability to find the right style and accessories with ease since there is an abundance of references online. For instance, search online for the desired era for style inspiration as well as online clothing reproduction shops which give item suggestions to any era your heart desires. Most of all, don't be afraid to mix modern and reproduction pieces with authentic vintage to create your very own unique look.”
Get real with the budget
Some soon-to-be-weds may have endless budget, but for most of us that’s not the case! But however modest your spends may be, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a vintage wedding work seamlessly. Emileigh from Flashback Summer knows the drill:
“My biggest tip for a vintage wedding is to remember that back then there were people getting married with all kinds of budgets, just like today. Although we love the photos of royal and movie star weddings, these were not the norm. Most people were working within smaller budgets, as many of us might be.
“Don’t overlook the fantastic inspiration that can come from photographs of everyday people and their weddings. Oftentimes they borrowed silver and china from family members, used flowers and simple pieces as decor, and had picnics in parks for their receptions. A vintage wedding can be glitzy, old-Hollywood glamour, and it can also be the simple gathering of friends and families with a nice dress and corsage, like many wartime weddings. There’s a whole spectrum of what a “vintage wedding” can be, so don’t be afraid to adapt and scale things to make the day truly yours.”
Find the perfect place
Your venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your day, and the first one you’ll make together as a couple. It will also help you nail down your date! Search the area near you for quirky options – unusual buildings, old hotels, art galleries, even pretty gardens can make accommodations to bring your day to life. Don’t forget to consider access – it’s worth it to make sure your guests can find their way, and stay nearby, easily and affordably.
4. Save The Date
Once you’ve got your venue booked, secure those guest numbers immediately! You’ll have their calendars marked well enough in advance to ensure the maximum number of loved ones able to attend. Try to give subtle hints in your save the date design – whether they’re paper or virtual – to give your guests a feel for the era your wedding will encapsulate. So if you’re choosing 20s, go Gatsby! No detail is too small to have fun with.
The dress, the dress, THE DRESS!
Now it’s time for the best part – finding your ideal dress. Yes, it can be stressful, but it’s also oh so rewarding. Cici Marie knows how to find a vintage gal’s dream dress, in the real world:
“You don't have to spend a fortune on your wedding dress to get a beautiful 'vintage' style! You can buy new or vintage, but I think it's very easy to spend more than you need to if you're trying to keep costs down - which, let's face it, the majority of us are! There are so many cute styles available now from vintage reproduction brands, that if I was getting married again I would for sure start there. I had no qualms with spending less on my dress as you only wear it for one day, but I couldn't at the time find a style I loved at the right price. My dress was a boutique style, but I bought the sample for a discount - which is also worth asking about if you go the traditional dress-shop route. I don't think any of your guests will know or care if your dress is true 50s vintage or not - all that matters is that you look and feel good in it. I've got more tips on bridal party vintage style here at www.cici-marie.com.”
It’s tradition, isn’t it? And whether you’re superstitious or not, it’s a sweet one to indulge in. Of course, for vintage lovers there’s nothing more apropos. We love Evelyn Wood’s idea to involve a sentimental original piece:
"So many of the vintage brides I see, want to wear their mothers veil as family heirloom for that special touch to their vintage inspired dress! I always have them take it out and check the colour of the aged veil against their dress colour. Most veils turn a bit yellow over time and this can look quite a 'dirty' colour against a white or light ivory modern dress. To avoid the dirty veil look, be sure to have it dry cleaned to freshen it up, perfect for your big day!"
Your best gals
Now your dress is in the (garment) bag, the next stop is your bridesmaids. One or ten, it’s always worth spending some time to find something that makes every maid feel stunning on the day. That’s where modern retro clothing shines, with vintage inspired styles in modern fits and fabrics that flatter all. At Lady V, we’re proud to carry a wide range of UK sizes, so every girl of every shape and size can look and feel completely gorgeous.
The hair and makeup
If there’s one way that your vintage look will come together perfectly, it’s with your choices of beauty. Now you know your era, trawl the web for inspiration from that era. We love movie star images, plus pinups from the time. Find a hair and makeup stylist who specialises in vintage looks – there’s more than you think out there. A perfect fingerwave or pincurl will simply perfect the look. Plus, you’ll get that screen siren feel with the right makeup.
Give your guests the hint
There’s no reason to leave your attendees out of the fun on the day of. When selecting and sending invitations, tie them into your theme, and expressly let guests know your inspiration. For the women out there, it’s smart to let them know separately what your bridesmaids will be wearing, helping avoid any same-dress faux pas.
"If you're DIY-minded and want to create something truly one-of-a-kind for the event, you can even create "bouquets" out of broken vintage costume jewellery pieces for the bride or her attendants! Whether you're upcycling broken vintage jewellery, wearing family heirlooms, or searching garage sales, antique shops and Etsy for something "new to you," genuine vintage jewellery offers limitless options for the vintage-minded bride!"
The bouquet and the boutonnieres complete that bridal party look, helping tie the groom and groomsmen to the bride and her bridesmaids. This is another place where vintage can be added to the feel. Research the flowers that brides favoured in your chosen era and ask your florist to incorporate them.
Add some favours
When it comes to dressing your tables at the reception, a simple elegance can be enhanced by the accessories. You’ve got your florals, now add some favours. There’s lots of simple options for any budget, from vintage sweet shop bundles to savour, to mason jars filled with personalised notes. You could even pull together a selection of books from 2nd hand shops and hand-select one for each guest, wrapped in a ribbon and tagged.
Capture the moment
It’s a popular addition to every reception of late – the photo booth! You can make yours feel right by finding a photographer who understands the them. Add an old suitcase to the setup and fill it with cheap and cheerful vintage accessories. Your guests can pull them out, pop them on and instantly embody the era. And of course there fun will be recorded for you to treasure!
A tasty tipple
What better way to keep that fun flowing than the right drinks to start the party? Many cocktails have their roots in bygone eras, so they make a perfect addition. Consult with your venue to find out if they can create an original vintage cocktail for your guests, after dinner. Or why not create a signature one that reflects the couple?
Add some sentiment into the day with something meaningful. Lots of us have pieces from grandparents or family, and incorporating them into your wedding can be easier than you might think. If it’s a brooch, it’s easy to pop it onto your dress or into your hair. If it’s something more cumbersome like a vintage journal, a camera, or even furnishings, add them to your welcome display at the reception! Or why not display wedding photos of both your families through the generations?
Let them entertain you
One of the final arrangements, yet one of the most important, is finding entertainment that reflects your tastes. Vintage themed weddings are often complete with a live band that brings the party to life. Decide whether you simply want a sprinkling of vintage, with a few new tracks to get them moving, or whether you want to go all in for the authentic experience.
Those finishing touches
Kali Pappas at Strange Girl knows the importance of the finer details. You might just treasure the jewellery you and your groom choose the most, and it will make an incredible lasting keepsake:
"There's so much you can do to give your wedding a great vintage vibe, but probably the best way to achieve a vintage look and feel is to incorporate some aspect of real vintage. Since jewellery from the 1930s-1960s is ubiquitously available and doesn't have to be expensive, that's my first suggestion! Mid century jewellery runs the gamut from understated and classy to incredibly showy. Whether it's grandmother's genuine pearls for the bride, or fabulous, sparkly costume brooch-and-earring sets for bridesmaids, there's literally something for everyone in the party at every price point. For the guys, vintage tie-tacks and cufflinks are a great option."
Keep it classic with a garter – the way that many brides traditionally included their ‘Something blue’. The secret will be between you and your groom! If you’re not feeling that, incorporating blue ribbon into your dress can easily be done. Why not tie a ribbon through a photo locket and have it fastened inside your dress, place absent loved ones’ photos inside and keep them close to your heart.
Go retro and repro
The main thing to remember when it comes to your day is that it’s YOURS. Tanya from Secret Plus Size Goddess knows that you shouldn’t get held back by imagined rules:
"My best tip for a vintage wedding is to not get too fixated on everything being original vintage. Whilst it's lovely to wear something that was worn years ago, it doesn't always work for today's shapes and sizes.
Wear a mix of reproduction clothing, with original accessories; a bag, jewellery, veil, and shoes are all easier to source and really make a look original.
By sourcing these accessories you will make your look very individual and not the same as any other bride.
This works equally well for bridesmaids and you can find items for a pittance on auction sites, car boot sales and vintage fairs. "
What’s your must-have tip? Did you throw a wedding soiree fit for the history books? Tell us your story on our social. Congratulations!