Vintage wedding ideas: inspiration through the ages

If you are thinking outside of the box for your wedding, why not have a lot of fun on the day and take inspiration from the pages of your history books? You could go all out and immerse yourself fully in these eras, or just take a little touch or taste from them as somewhere to start. Every era has something special to offer your special day; have a look at our ideas below and see where your imagination goes!

Or be sure to browse through the photos in our Real Weddings gallery to see what other couples have done for their vintage wedding. 

Planning vintage glam wedding brings Emily and Matt closer together. Photo courtesy of Perla Photography.

Planning vintage glam wedding brings Emily and Matt closer together. Photo courtesy of Perla Photography.

1500s

What weddings were like at the time

Picture one of the many weddings of Henry VIII. Despite the fact that most of them ended badly, they always started in sumptuous style. Ceremonies looked similar to today, including the wording of a lot of the service, where the couple stood, the exchanging of rings, and the family and friends coming to a huge feast afterwards.

Usually, weddings weren’t for love however but were arranged for political advancement. A man could have a say in his bride, but women had no say regarding who they married, her parents made this choice for her. Often people did not meet before the ceremony itself.

Source: Sotheby's

Source: Sotheby’s

Contemporary wedding inspiration from that era

An incredibly fun wedding could be a medieval themed one. Everyone can channel their inner kings and queens, knights and ladies, and bring back the days of chivalry and grand gestures.

Watch a few episodes of The Tudors or The White Queen for inspiration. Think of vibrant, royal colours such as reds, blues, greens, purples and gold. Your attire could be in rich, luxurious fabrics such as velvet, silk or leather, with details embroidered in gold.

The groom may be nervous about wearing tights, but women have been doing this for years, so maybe it’s the men’s turn! The men get to have fake swords, however, which they probably will like.

Serve a feast of big, hearty flavours, with roast meats and vegetables, then platters of fruit, nuts, honey and cheese for dessert. Eat at long tables from shared dishes. Use gold or copper plates, goblets and cutlery. Serve red and white wine, and jugs of mead and ale.

Consider setting your wedding at a refurbished castle or Tudor style inn, such as Elizabethan Lodge or Avalon Castle in Melbourne, and make sure that you arrive in a horse-drawn carriage.

Elizabethan Lodge

Elizabethan Lodge

1800s

What weddings were like at the time

For inspiration think of the Regency weddings in the time of Jane Austen. Fortunately, love did seem to start playing a part in the decision of who to marry, although your parents still did most of the planning as to who you ultimately ended up with. Marriage was often about money, with matches being made to serve in both parties’ financial interests.

The bride would have a couple of bridesmaids who were dressed in similar attire. The wedding celebrations were smaller at this time, usually only attended by close family members. Weddings were held in the morning, followed by the traditional wedding breakfast.

Source: Le One Photography

Source: Le One Photography

Contemporary wedding inspiration from that era

The bride would wear white or silver, with lace and embroidery details, with her dress covered with a dainty shawl or wrap, or even a matching jacket. She could wear a crown of fresh flowers on her head, or perhaps a bonnet, as veils were not yet in fashion.

The men are in top hats and tails, although their pants still probably resemble tights a bit too much for their liking, and were white or dove grey as well!

The bridal bouquet could look like something picked from a nearby field, with a gorgeous mix of wildflowers and herbs. Decorations could be fresh floral garlands or colourful silk ribbons.

Have your marriage in the morning and follow with a wedding breakfast, choose an all in one venue so you can say your vows in a gorgeous little English chapel and then walk to breakfast in a garden close by. Dine on carved wooden plates and from silver glasses.

Desserts were more luxurious by this time, so lay on a glorious sweet course for everyone afterwards. Have a maypole for dancing and some fiddlers to play for everyone. For the perfect venues check out the Sydney Observatory or the Gardens on Forest, both in NSW.

Sydney Observatory

Sydney Observatory

1920s

What weddings were like at the time

This time was called Post-Edwardian and was just after the time of the First World War. Weddings became bigger celebrations at this time now that the sedateness of wartime had passed. Picture the weddings from Downtown Abbey; the ceremonies and parties afterwards were getting bigger, with large string orchestras and meals that went on for course after course after course.

Image via Vogue

Image via Vogue

 

Contemporary wedding inspiration from that era

The bride would now be all in white, as would the bridesmaids, although the bridesmaid’s dresses would be a little bit shorter, just below the knee. The veil had come into fashion by now, but would not be over the bride’s face, but stretched down behind, and she may wear a lace cap covering her head as well. The ladies can all be wearing pearls.


Will you be hiring any items for your wedding?


Bouquets can be a lot more involved and ornate now, with big open roses and long trails of vines and other greenery draping down. The men are in suits by now, and would be in morning suits of black or dark grey, and can still wear the top hat, this time adding a dapper cane.

For the reception think a proper English high tea; with delicate finger sandwiches, tiny sweet and savoury pastries, little cakes and of course scones. Hire a gorgeous vintage tea service. Your wedding cake can be six layers high and decorated with roses and pearls.

Arrive at your perfect venue in a vintage Rolls Royce from 1920. Wonderful venues for a wedding from this era could include The Grange Golf Club or Osmond Terrace Function Centre, both in South Australia.

Image via Weddingomania

Image via Weddingomania

1930s

What weddings were like at the time

If the parties started again in the 1920s this must have been when they reached their height. This was the era of swing and jazz, of opulence and hedonistic indulgence, of all-night celebrations with huge brass bands. Picture the Great Gatsby for your inspiration, and prepared to say a quick vows, but then party until dawn.

Image via Fashion Era

Image via Fashion Era

Contemporary wedding inspiration from that era

The ladies can all be in the flapper’s style of dress; which fell straight over the hips and stopped at the knee. These dresses often had detailing such as feathers and fringes, and the women were adorned by boas, headbands and again pearls. Jewellery was big; think layers and layers of long necklaces and bracelets all the way up your wrists.

The men can be in black-tie now, and with a pork-pie style hat. Men of every age seem to love wearing this hat. They could evoke the fanciest gangsters of the time; think Bugsy Malone or Lucky Luciano. The men were as well dressed as the women by now.

Host a cocktail style reception, with obviously lots of cocktails, serving things like martinis and plenty of champagne in wide-brimmed glasses. Have waiters in black tie and with silver platters wandering through your crowd with never-ending canapes and tiny desserts.

Have a brass band playing through the night, lots of swing dancing and finish off with a fireworks show at the end.

Arrive at one of these venues in an original era car like a Cabriolet or Cadillac; try The Centre in Ivanhoe, Melbourne or The Tea Room at QVB in Sydney.

The Centre Ivanhoe

The Centre Ivanhoe

1950s

What weddings were like at the time

The ceremonies in the time of rock and roll were quite similar to the more classic ceremonies today, with a wedding in a church, big bridal party, reception with family and lots of cake. Sometimes couples had no reception and just left straight for their honeymoon from the ceremony.

Honeymoons were usually within Australia unless you were very rich, with cruises and beaches around Queensland becoming more popular for wedding destinations.

Image via Stories of Chelsea

Image via Stories of Chelsea

Contemporary wedding inspiration from that era

You could get all of your guests to join in the fun, and ask everyone to dress in 1950s style; this seems to be an era that people love to immerse themselves in. Or just take the gorgeous rock and roll features of the time, and use these to enhance the theme of your day.

For wedding dresses, the style was very feminine and demure, cut in at the waist and then flared out over the legs. Dresses could be tea length or longer but were always white. The veil was in by this stage, but you could also wear a vintage hat or headpiece. For inspiration look at the real-life photos from the weddings of Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor or Audrey Hepburn, or check out the stunning work from Through The White Door in North Fremantle.

Image via Archibald Photography

Image via Archibald Photography

The men would have worn classic black tie at the time, but your modern men could grab hold of the fifties vibe and go leather jackets, tight jeans and pointed shoes for true vintage style. The bridesmaid’s outfits will probably be the most fun, with big skirts, bright colours, bold patterns, and intricate set hairstyles.

Decorations, invitations, music and ambience of the venue are generally easy to recreate. Think images of record albums and vintage coke signs, original fifties furniture and colour palettes of black and white check, with touches of hot pink or cherry red. You will need an old-fashioned rock and roll band, or jukebox, or both.

Hire a classic silver caravan and set it up for some incredible photos. Of course, arrive in cars from the era, all polished and gleaming like brand new, and consider venues like Potters Receptions in Melbourne or Doltone House Hyde Park in Sydney.

For more vintage wedding inspiration, click here. 

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