24 Classic Wedding Ideas That Will Always Be In Style

Skip the ultra-trendy aesthetic for these details that stand the test of time.
Samantha Iacia - The Knot wedding style expert
Samantha Iacia
  • Samantha writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in wedding decor, trends, and fashion
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Samantha was a features and weddings contributor for The Baltimore Sun
  • She is based in Washington, D.C. and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism
Updated Feb 12, 2024

As much as we love scoping out the newest, most exciting wedding trends, there's something to be said about planning a wedding that focuses on chic, time-honored design instead. If you're thinking about having a classic wedding, you're probably the type of person who's fine with skipping the latest craze in favor of something you know you'll still love years down the road, and we can't argue with that. Classic weddings can be incredibly beautiful and luxurious, especially when your inspiration board is full of elements that hearken back to the glamour of decades past (think champagne towers, sparkling chandeliers and a Rolls Royce getaway car). Our guide to this beloved wedding theme is filled with ideas that are both modern and timeless, so that your special day feels like you right now—and you in 50 years.

In this article:

Classic Wedding Ideas:

Colors | Decor | Cakes | Centerpieces | Bouquets | Editor's Favorites

What Is a Classic Wedding?

A classic wedding prioritizes timeless, traditional elements instead of focusing on fleeting trends that risk looking dated after just a few years. Classic weddings are rooted in tried-and-true ideas that will stand the test of time, such as traditional paper invitations, candlelit centerpieces, white tablecloths and formal venues, like ballrooms or mansions.

This aesthetic foregoes anything too trendy (sorry, pampas grass and neon signs) in favor of details that have been en vogue for decades. For starters, think of famous wedding movies, like "The Sound of Music," "The Graduate" and "Father of the Bride," or pull inspiration from royal weddings to get a sense of what has held up over the years. Don't feel tempted to incorporate something into your wedding day just because it's buzzy or you think it will wow your guests—make sure you genuinely love every detail you choose.

What is the difference between elegant and classic weddings?

A classic wedding follows a very specific design style, while the word elegant can be used a little more loosely. "Elegant" describes anything that's refined and sophisticated, regardless of the style or theme. A wedding can be elegant and rustic, elegant and beachy or elegant with a glamorous theme.

Ideal Classic Wedding Venues

The wedding venue holds a lot of influence over how your special day looks and feels. Before you can start the bulk of your wedding planning, you'll need to choose a wedding venue. For classic themes, look to locations that have traditional architecture, such as historic mansions, country clubs or grand hotel ballrooms. If you want an outdoor wedding, consider a formal garden venue (bonus if it has details like fountains and statues) or a picturesque vineyard.

Classic Wedding Budget Priorities

A successful classic wedding theme looks like you've thought of everything, so decor and small details are two areas where you'll want to invest your budget. The table linens, flower arrangements, lighting and rental furniture are some of the major details that your guests will first notice when entering the venue. Consider setting aside some of your budget to hire a wedding planner to help you choose items that feel cohesive and chic without being too trendy. Your table settings are another way to lean into the traditional theme. For the most formal effect, each place setting should include a charger plate, dinner plate (use china with touches of gold or silver for the fanciest look), crystal stemware and flatware for multiple courses. Round tables are more traditional, while long rectangular banquet tables add drama and are a bit on the trendier side.

Find your kind of venue

From barns to ballrooms, discover reception venues that feel like you.

Food and entertainment are other important categories to focus on. Hire a caterer who can put their own spin on classic wedding foods like surf & turf, roasted chicken and seasonal salads. Top off your wedding reception with a live band or a DJ who can play golden oldies and other hits by timeless artists like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Classic Wedding Colors

For a classic wedding color palette, there's nothing more timeless than black and white. This combo is versatile enough to use as-is, or you can build it out by adding one or two accent colors. Pastel tones are also extremely popular for classic wedding colors. You can incorporate hints of blush, dusty blue, lilac, sage green or soft yellow into stationery, flower arrangements and decor to add color in an understated way. Finally, use metallic silver or gold accents to give your color palette a touch of shimmer.

Classic Wedding Decor Ideas

Seeing your wedding decor all come together on the big day is something you'll never forget. Check out these real wedding photos to see how to bring classic wedding style to life.

1. Garden Wedding Venue

Tap into a timeless Old World aesthetic by exchanging your vows in an Italianate or French-style garden. Simple white folding chairs provide seating without distracting from the natural surroundings.

2. Classical Wedding Ceremony Music

No wedding ceremony is complete without music. If contemporary tunes don't fit the vibe of your special day, hire a harpist, guitarist or string quartet to perform classical and instrumental selections instead.

3. Sailcloth Wedding Reception Tent

This classy wedding tent, also called a Sperry tent, feels especially timeless since it's made from heavy-duty sailcloth rather than vinyl. Details like varnished wood poles and flags on top add the finishing touches to your reception decor.

4. Calligraphy Wedding Escort Cards

A creative escort card display can be a great focal point, but there's nothing wrong with keeping things simple too. Handwritten escort cards from a professional calligrapher are always sophisticated.

5. Mirror Wedding Sign

Use a mirrored sign in an antique gold frame to showcase a favorite love quote or present your seating chart at the reception.

6. Gold Chiavari Chairs

You can't get more classic than Chiavari chairs. A go-to seating option for glamorous weddings and luxe themes, Chiavari chairs are available in dozens of colors and finishes, from metallic gold and silver to dark wood, whitewashed gray and clear acrylic. Cushions provide comfort and decorative flair.

7. Crystal Chandeliers

Choose a classic wedding venue with sparkling chandeliers to bring a classic fairytale element to your wedding day. If your venue doesn't have chandeliers in place, or if you're hosting your reception beneath a tent, look into renting them as part of your decor.

8. Monogrammed Signature Cocktail Toppers

Monograms are another must-have detail for any classic, chic wedding theme. You can go the traditional route by monogramming your wedding stationery, napkins or dance floor, but we love this custom drink topper as an unexpected alternative (it's edible!).

9. Checkered Dance Floor

Depending on your wedding venue, you may need to supply your own dance floor. Black-and-white checkerboard tiles evoke a nostalgic look that's perfect for classic weddings—and for performing your first dance to a classic wedding song.

Classic Wedding Cake Ideas

The main purpose of your wedding cake is for dessert, but you want it to look good, too. Use these wedding cake ideas as even more inspiration for your classic theme.

10. White Fondant Wedding Cake

four-tier white fondant wedding cake with 3D sugar flower decorations on top of round silver cake stand
Photo: The Hons Photo

Fondant gives your wedding cake a smooth, seamless finish, which makes it a popular choice for classic and timeless themes. Decorative cake techniques like hand-piping, sugar flowers or latticework will help you customize the overall design.

11. Two-Tier Cake with Piping

Decorated with pretty flower-shaped piping, roses and vines, this classic wedding cake would look beautiful for a garden venue.

12. Simple Classic Wedding Cake

This simple cake proves that less can definitely be more. Stick to a super-understated design by finishing a textured buttercream cake with flowers and greenery on each tier.

Classic Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

No matter your wedding theme, the centerpieces are what bring your tablescapes together. For a classic aesthetic, you can focus on using candles, traditional arrangements and greenery.

13. White Flower Centerpiece with Greenery

This low centerpiece is a gorgeous example of how to mesh trendy, garden-style arrangements with a classic wedding theme. The all-white florals ground the arrangement and keep it from looking too busy, while eucalyptus and other greenery build out the romantic, organic shape.

14. White Flowers in Black Urn Vase

Play into a black and white color palette by offsetting black vases with white flowers and greenery for your classic wedding centerpieces. Look for urn-style vases with ornate details and carvings, rather than glass or metal, which skew more modern.

15. Tall Centerpiece with Taper Candles

Candles are an obvious choice for classic wedding decor—they're romantic, timeless and cost-friendly for any budget. You can't go wrong with white taper candles in crystal or bronze candlesticks, especially when paired with soft blush pink flowers.

Classic Wedding Bouquet Ideas

Rounded shapes, timeless flowers (like roses, hydrangeas and peonies) and a hint of greenery are just a few of our favorite ideas for classic wedding bouquets.

16. White Wedding Bouquet

An all-white bouquet truly never goes out of style. Luckily, there are dozens of different white wedding flowers you can choose from, including the garden roses, tulips, ranunculus and astilbe pictured here.

17. Cascading Wedding Bouquet

Because of the trailing vines and oversized shape, this cascading bouquet looks romantic and whimsical. Traditional flowers, including garden roses and Queen Anne's lace, keep the arrangement classic with airy white tones.

18. Long-Stem Rose Bouquet

Not only are roses among the most popular wedding flowers of all time, they're also some of the most classic blooms. While they're easy to pair with almost any other flower, white roses look especially stunning on their own in a long-stemmed bouquet.

Editor's Classic Wedding Favorites

Want to know our classic wedding must-haves? Here are six details we'd definitely include to ace the theme.

19. Classic Wedding Dress

Lace and beading are often found on classic wedding dresses (the one shown here has both!). In terms of dress silhouettes, ball gowns, fit-and-flare and slip dresses all fall under the classic category.

20. Classic Wedding Invitations with Envelope Liner

Calligraphy, embossing and gold foil are just some of the most popular design details for classic wedding invitations. Finish your stationery suite by adding printed envelope liners that showcase your color scheme or a motif from your wedding decor.

21. Emerald-Cut Engagement Ring

Although brilliant cuts and other round shapes are often labeled as the most classic types of engagement rings, emerald cuts are another option. They evoke a sense of vintage glamour and look stunning as single-stone rings or in multi-stone designs.

22. Black Tuxedo

The black tuxedo has been a symbol of special occasions for centuries. Tuxes are easily distinguishable from suits by the satin trim that adorns their jacket lapels and the sides of the pant legs. Stick with basic accessories, like a bow tie, cummerbund and patent leather shoes to achieve a timeless look.

23. Antique-Style Coupe Glasses

two champagne coupe glasses on gold tray
Photo: Coco Tran

At the bar, champagne served in flutes or old-fashioned coupes is a must. You can also work with your bartender to create a signature drink or two—try putting your own spin on classic cocktails like whiskey sours, mojitos, martinis or sangria.

24. Vintage Wedding Getaway Car

Ride off into the sunset (just like the lead characters in any iconic classic film) by renting an antique car for your nuptials. It's a memorable photo op for you and your guests, even if you only go for a short drive around the venue. Don't forget the "just married" decorations.

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