39 Classy Ideas Inspired by the Old Money Wedding Aesthetic

Fake it 'til you make it, right?
Samantha Iacia - The Knot wedding style expert
by
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 26, 2024

Scroll through social media and sooner or later, you'll come across a post about the old money wedding aesthetic. This usually includes a montage of aspirational images showing things like European-style villas, vintage luxury cars, bottles of Moët and maybe a yacht or two. The old money aesthetic is just the latest wedding theme made popular by Gen Z, but because it's rooted in timeless elements, the style actually has some staying power. Along with practical planning tips for choosing your venue, color palette and more, we're sharing a wealth of old money ideas for your wedding inspiration board so you know exactly how to get the look.

In this article:

Old Money Wedding Ideas:

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

What Is an Old Money Wedding?

An old money wedding is based on the old money aesthetic, which is inspired by the lifestyle of the super-wealthy, from clothes to mannerisms, hobbies and more. Old money—or people who have inherited their wealth through family lineage—is often viewed as the epitome of elegance and sophistication, as proven by some iconic examples of those who embody the aesthetic. Think: the Kennedy family (especially Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy), Princess Diana, and in pop culture terms, TV shows like Gossip Girl and Succession. Prominent names from the 19th and 20th centuries—the Vanderbilts, the Astors, the Rockefellers—are all other recognizable examples of old money.

"To bring an old money-inspired wedding to life, there needs to be character, attention to detail and an elegant atmosphere," says Samantha Kleven, a Minneapolis-based photographer who specializes in luxury weddings around the world. For her work, Kleven uses 35MM and Super 8 film cameras, which can both help you achieve a vintage-inspired, old money vibe. "Couples are intrigued by this style of photography because it has and will never go out of style."

Nailing the old money wedding aesthetic is a fine line between creating an event that's polished and luxurious without being flashy or boastful. People who inherit old money don't try to prove their wealth or impress others with designer labels and the latest passing trends. Instead, they focus on craftsmanship and very high-quality products to discreetly convey their status. For your wedding day, this means that every detail should be carefully planned and curated, and you have to be able to spot the difference between quantity and quality. In order to get the old money wedding look, you'll want to avoid items that look too new or trendy—it should be believable that things were passed down through generations as family heirlooms. While it's okay to include modern touches in moderation, the ultimate goal is to design a wedding that isn't easily pinned to a specific year or decade, because you want it to still feel relevant for generations to come.

Ideal Old Money Wedding Venues

Finding a wedding venue is an important first step for any event, but it's even more crucial for the old money wedding theme. Some venues, especially those that are too modern or casual, simply won't fit the vibe—or you'll have to do a lot of redecorating to make it work. Browse wedding venues on The Knot to find locations that are already upscale and sophisticated, like castles or luxurious historical mansions. If you're ready to head abroad for your I dos, consider a European wedding destination like Italy or France.

Old Money Wedding Budget Priorities

Creating your wedding budget is another important step, and there are a few key areas where you might want to splurge in order to successfully ace an old money-style wedding. Aside from investing in a fancy venue, which will do wonders to set the elevated tone for the day, we recommend hiring a professional wedding planner who can seamlessly coordinate all of the decor and details. Your attire is another thing to focus on—the items you'll need for a black-tie wedding dress code tend to be pricier than their casual counterparts, but they're a big part of nailing the old money aesthetic. Feeling financially unorganized? Use The Knot Budgeter to outline your top priorities and track your spending along the way.

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Old Money Wedding Colors

Your wedding colors control the formality and mood of the day, so it's important to consider them carefully before making a final decision. In general, the colors for an old money wedding theme should feel tasteful and modest (in other words, skip bright colors like fuchsia and turquoise). Here are a few wedding color palette ideas to start with.

1. Dusty Blue

Blue is a classic wedding color, but its different shades and tones will affect the overall look of your color palette depending on what you choose. Medium and dark blues, like cobalt, sapphire and navy, are great for bringing drama and contrast into the color scheme. Lighter blues, like French blue, sky blue and dusty blue, are more understated and romantic.

2. Black and White

You know this one already—black and white are an iconic pairing for a reason. They're classic and simple yet always elegant, which makes them a perfect choice for the old money wedding aesthetic.

3. Light Green

Whether you work this color into your wedding day through decor or fresh greenery and flowers, light green is another chic option for your color palette. Focus on muted green hues like sage and olive that pair well with neutrals, like bronze and beige.

4. Silver and Gold

You can't achieve a bit of opulence without incorporating metallic tones into your color palette. You can either use silver and gold as your primary colors (yes, it's okay to mix metals!), or you can add them as accents to another color palette. Pair silver and gold with crystal tableware and plenty of candles for a luxe effect.

Old Money Wedding Decor Ideas

How exactly do you nail the high-end look without coming across as garish? Take these old money wedding decor ideas as examples to see what we mean.

5. Potted Topiaries

Neatly-trimmed topiaries instantly evoke a feeling of grandeur, since they're most often associated with Old World villas and formal gardens. Use large-scale trees to decorate a cocktail hour space or size down with miniature topiaries in your centerpieces.

6. Chiavari Chairs

For the wedding ceremony seating, stick to Chiavari chairs in metallic or wooden finishes. Opera chairs are another option if you prefer something traditional but a little less mainstream.

7. Cloche Jar Hors D'oeuvres

Part of the old money wedding aesthetic is creating a high-end experience for your guests that they won't find at every other wedding. Serve plated appetizers in miniature cloche jars for a tasteful first course they'll always remember.

8. Oversized Urn Flower Arrangements

Large stone urns look like they're from a bygone era, which is exactly what you want to aim for when you're designing an old money wedding aesthetic. Fill them with flowers that spill out the top and over the sides for stunning accent arrangements.

9. Framed Dinner Menu

For this wedding vibe, dinner should be a whole experience. And in that case, you'll need a menu that's just as elevated as the meal itself, like this gilded design framed with fresh flowers.

10. Chandeliers

If you're still searching for your wedding venue, look for a location with chandeliers or similar light fixtures that make the space feel fancier than an everyday room.

11. Checkered Dance Floor

We love how a checkered dance floor looks in photos. Depending on your venue, you may need to rent the dance floor separately (something you can do using rental vendors on The Knot), but in our opinion, it's a worthy upgrade.

12. White Candles

Using candles in your decor isn't just about the way they look, it's also about the inviting glow they bring to your venue. Skip the big overhead lighting and use a combination of candles and spotlighting instead for a warm ambience.

13. Sailcloth Reception Tent

Because they're made using the same material as boat sails, sailcloth tents feel more aligned with the classic old money wedding aesthetic compared to polyester or polyurethane tents. Add bistro lights to illuminate the wedding reception space after sunset.

14. Gold-Rimmed China

Traditional china is essential when it comes to designing your old money-inspired place settings. Look for designs with simple patterns and silver or gold trim, like these pretty filigrees.

15. Champagne Tower

A champagne tower isn't just a fun way to serve drinks—it's a stunning focal point for your decor, too. You'll want to go big (like this nine-tier tower) for the most impactful effect, but we don't recommend DIYing this idea. Avoid accidents by enlisting the help of a wedding planner who can set it up for you.

Old Money Wedding Cake Ideas

If you want to include the tradition of slicing into your wedding cake, you're gonna need one that looks amazing in person and in photos. Try these wedding cake ideas inspired by the old money aesthetic.

16. All-White Hydrangeas

A white-on-white cake is anything but boring when you add big hydrangea bunches for texture and decoration. Bring the vintage cake vibes full-circle with a gorgeous antique pewter stand.

17. Bundles of Boxwood

Greenery can be a great way to decorate your cake, but for the old money wedding aesthetic, you'll want to avoid greenery that's too wispy or leafy. Instead, use fresh boxwood for a tidy, traditional look.

18. Light Pink Flowers

Incorporate subtle blush tones into your color palette by decorating a smooth buttercream cake with pink hydrangeas or garden roses.

19. Dramatic Flower Cascade

A 10-tier design ensures that your cake won't be overlooked. With a cake this size, it's best to lean into the opulent look with details like gold trim, monograms and flowers wrapped around each tier.

20. Hand-Piped Polka Dots

Dainty Swiss dots are a chic alternative if you don't want to decorate your wedding cake with flowers. This traditional cake decorating technique looks lovely with a monochromatic white design.

Old Money Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

Taper candles, white flowers and crisp linens are just some of the main must-haves for your old money wedding centerpieces.

21. White Taper Candles

It's hard to go wrong with white taper candles and gold candlesticks. Fill out the tables with low flower arrangements using white blooms and a touch of greenery.

22. Structural Calla Lilies

Here's a gorgeous example of how to get a little avant-garde with your centerpieces while still achieving a luxe effect. Classic white flowers (roses, calla lilies and orchids) are the bulk of the arrangement, with the swathes of bear grass wrapping around for a unique finish.

23. Potted Orchids

Use potted orchids as elegant table centerpieces or decorative accents for other areas of the reception, like the bar or restrooms.

24. Hydrangeas and Roses

Focus on timeless flower pairings, like hydrangeas and roses. These centerpieces could have been from a wedding 50 years ago, and there's a good chance they'll look just as beautiful in photos another 50 years from now.

25. Low Flowers with Candelabras

When you're using patterned table linens, it's fine to keep your centerpieces a little more understated. Scatter votive candles among low flower arrangements—and if you're using long banquet tables, candelabras evenly spaced out in the center.

26. Viburnum and Peonies

When displayed in a large crystal vase, an arrangement as simple as green viburnum and white peonies looks effortlessly chic.

Old Money Wedding Bouquet Ideas

Roses, hydrangeas, orchids and lilies are some of our top flower recs for the old money wedding theme. See how to style them in your bouquet below.

27. White Calla Lilies

White calla lilies never go out of style, and a small posy of them is just as en vogue today as it was 100 years ago. These sleek flowers pair perfectly with a simple silk wedding dress.

28. Peonies and Ranunculuses

These two flowers are usually beloved for their bright and bold colors, but they're just as stunning in an all-white bouquet. Carry them in a rounded bouquet with minimal greenery.

29. Limelight Hydrangeas

There are a lot of reasons to love late summer and fall weddings, but limelight hydrangeas might be at the top of the list. These flowers are at their prettiest when the petals transition from green to pink with the change of the seasons.

30. Lily of the Valley

A staple in many royal wedding bouquets, lily of the valley symbolizes purity, renewal and hope. This delicate flower looks best when paired with other small white blossoms, like stephanotis, or all on its own.

31. Phalaenopsis Orchids

Abundant greenery can sometimes make your bouquet look too wild or untamed for the old money wedding aesthetic. Instead, use long orchid stems to create structure and an interesting shape.

32. Garden Roses

We couldn't forget about garden roses, which are possibly the best flowers of them all for an old money wedding. The key is to use English varieties (like David Austin roses) and heirloom roses that are grown using centuries-old techniques.

Editor's Old Money Wedding Favorites

We know it's not realistic to include everything we've talked about up to this point, so when it comes down to it, here are our must-haves for the old money aesthetic.

33. Gilded Age-Inspired Invites

For your old money wedding invites, take inspiration from Gilded Age mansions, which were often decorated with ceiling frescos. Incorporate similar artwork into your invitations or envelope liners, and finish the stationery suite with other ornate details, like embossing, gold foil and wax seal stamps.

34. Basque Waist Wedding Dress

Perfect tailoring is a hallmark of old money style, and that goes for old money wedding dresses, too. Choose a gown with details like draping, gathered skirts, micro pleats and appliqués that have to be finished by hand, not machine, for the most exquisite look.

35. Cigar Station

Certain cigars are expensive and rare to come by, which is exactly why they fall into the old money aesthetic. Incorporate a bit of luxury into your reception or after party by hiring a vendor to roll custom cigars for guests.

36. Flower Petal Toss

What's more romantic than exiting your ceremony or reception under a shower of flower petals? You'll feel like you're living in a movie, which is kind of the whole point if we're being honest.

37. Wedding Veil

Vintage brides are always wearing veils in their wedding photos, so you don't want to skip out on this accessory for your special day. Chapel and cathedral length veils give a regal effect, but a simple tulle blusher is just as good.

38. Jazz Band

Want to make sure the dance floor stays full all night? Hire a live band to play jazz tunes, swing music and crowd favorites that everyone knows.

39. Vintage Convertible

When it's all said and done, make your just-married getaway in a vintage car. Work with a local transportation vendor to hire a chauffeur or rent your dream luxury car for the day, like a Rolls Royce or vintage Mercedes convertible.

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