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27 Vintage Ideas to Take Your Wedding Day Back in Time

From retro fashion to antique centerpieces.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Feb 16, 2021

Vintage wedding ideas can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Whether you're inspired by the elegant Victorian age, the roaring '20s or the retro '70s, a vintage wedding theme can take your guests back in time and simultaneously bring your favorite era to life. To plan a vintage wedding, first identify the decade or time period that you want to emulate. Once you've selected a theme, research its history to let it inspire every detail of your day, from the decor to the fashion and the color palette

Narrowing down the best vintage wedding ideas can feel daunting at first—with so many styles and time periods to pick from, choosing what to incorporate in your big day takes thoughtful consideration. To ease your wedding planning process, we've rounded up our favorite vintage wedding ideas from real weddings. Browse our roundup of elegant vintage themes and decorations below to inspire your wedding day.  

Framed Seating Chart 

If you're the creative type, you might be looking for DIY vintage wedding decorations. Head to your local thrift store to shop for antique frames to use as decorations. For a true vintage feel, look for frames that have distressed metallic colors and ornate details. We love the idea of using your antique frame as a seating chart—it's the first thing guests will see when entering the wedding reception, making it an ideal way to carry out your theme. 

Mismatched Chandeliers 

Alternative lighting is a major wedding trend, and it's not hard to see why. The lighting of your venue can drastically impact the overall feel of the space. If you're envisioning a vintage-themed wedding, lean into moody options like candlesticks, exposed lightbulbs or chandeliers. Ornate hanging light fixtures will be a standout detail at your wedding—plus, mismatched styles will transform your space to feel elegant and historic.

Vintage Getaway Car 

Consider this one of our favorite vintage wedding ideas. If you're planning a grand exit at the end of the reception, you'll need a swanky vehicle for your getaway. Rent a vintage car or truck to make the moment special (and on-theme). We have a feeling guests will be impressed by your sweet ride.

Bundt Wedding Cake 

Bundt cakes gained widespread US popularity in the 1950s, making it a great dessert alternative for your vintage-themed wedding. Work with your caterer or pastry chef to pick a design and flavor palette that fits your wedding vibe. 

Art Deco Seating Area 

Give your guests plenty of space to mingle with designated lounge seating areas throughout your reception. Rent art deco furniture pieces (like couches, chaises and chairs) in colors that match your vintage theme to make it look like you thought of everything for your wedding day. 

Heirloom Accents 

Scour local thrift shops (or your grandparents' attic) to find heirloom pieces for decorative vignettes throughout your venue. Clocks, books, teacups, candelabras and knick-knacks can be grouped together on tables, lounge areas and on top of the bar to effortlessly incorporate your vintage theme throughout the space.  

Mirrored Decor 

Looking for vintage wedding decor ideas that are easy to achieve? Shop for baroque mirrors to place throughout your venue. This elegant design style, which is heavily influenced by 17th-Century European architecture and art, will give your space a regal touch.

Textured Chargers or Table Runners 

When selected thoughtfully, printed chargers and table runners can add texture and dimension to your reception tables. For a vintage setup, look for chargers or runners that have small, intricate designs on them. Pair them with candlesticks and gold-rimmed or colored glassware for an antique feel. 

Retro Photobooth 

It's common for couples to include a photo booth at their reception, so why not give yours a retro makeover? Rent a vintage car to transform into a mini photo studio. This groovy refurbished Volkswagen looks like it was pulled right out of the 1970s. 

Candelabra Centerpieces 

Centerpieces don't only have to include flowers. Accent your tablescapes with antiquated candelabras or candlesticks. Look for designs with antique gold or brass bases for an authentic vintage look.

Tea-Length Wedding Dress 

Tea-length wedding dresses are synonymous with vintage style, largely because the silhouette was popularized by Audrey Hepburn. The famed actress wore an iconic Givenchy tea-length dress to her 1954 wedding to Mel Ferrer. Three years later, she wore a similar wedding gown in the 1957 blockbuster musical Funny Face. So, if you're looking for antique wedding dress styles, this chic silhouette is a great choice. 

Vintage Lace and Tulle Wedding Dress 

If shorter hemlines aren't for you, don't stress—a tea-length dress isn't your only vintage option. For something with a long skirt, consider a tulle or lace gown (or a style that combines both). Lace and tulle are romantic antique fabrics that'll give your wedding look a timeless finish without looking dated.

Birdcage Veil 

While you don't have to wear a veil on your wedding day, a headpiece can drastically change your overall look. Consider accenting your dress with a birdcage veil for an old-school, vintage effect. Also called a cage, this netted style typically covers the top part of your face and doesn't exceed more than nine inches in length. Pair it with a tea-length or lace dress for a true vintage-inspired ensemble. 

Lace Capelet 

You can lean into vintage fashion styles without committing to an ornate lace dress or birdcage veil. If you prefer a simple wedding gown, accessorize with a lace capelet or coverup. Complete your look with an heirloom brooch for a chic finishing touch. 

Sprawling Greenery 

Breathe fresh life into your wedding venue with sprawling greenery. We love the idea of decorating the bar with a whimsical trellis covered in vines. Work with your florist to bring your vision to life. 

Muted Centerpieces 

This dried wedding centerpiece has retro '60s vibes thanks to its muted pink color palette. When planning a vintage-style wedding, keep in mind that pastels and muted shades are synonymous with this theme. Incorporate them into your centerpieces, invitations, floral arrangements and decorations for a seamless wedding theme. 

DIY Antique Picture Frames 

Need a unique way to elevate your reception space? Ask your pros to help you hang empty antique picture frames on the walls, and accent them with clusters of flowers on opposite edges. This minimal style hack is affordable and easy to DIY, and it makes a statement without looking too bold. 

Retro Signage 

Wedding signage is one of the easiest ways to carry out your vintage theme. Search online for antique wedding signs, or work with a calligrapher to create custom pieces specifically for your wedding.

Boho Sweetheart Table

Bring the '70s to your sweetheart table with retro peacock chairs and woven rattan accents. Mismatched glassware and muted floral centerpieces will bring the entire look together. 

Mismatched Ceremony Seating 

Give your wedding ceremony a shabby chic feel with mismatched seating. Scour local thrift stores and yard sales to find eclectic wood chairs and benches to replace traditional matching seats.

Distressed Lanterns 

Don't forget to decorate your ceremony aisle. Clusters of distressed metallic lanterns will give your walkway a vintage makeover. Find affordable options at your local thrift shop or craft store.  

Jewel-Toned Glassware 

Forgo traditional glassware for colorful, jewel-toned champagne flutes and goblets. This creative vintage wedding idea will make guests will feel like they've been transported to a swanky jazz club or a posh cocktail lounge. 

Antique Gold Wedding Cake Topper 

Yes, even your wedding cake can be vintage-inspired. Buy an antique gold cake topper to give your sweet treat a pop of color that matches your wedding color scheme. 

French Door Archway 

Make your guests feel like they've literally stepped back in time with an antique doorway leading to your outdoor wedding ceremony site. We love the look of this repurposed French door archway, which is accented with lush greenery and a custom wood sign. 

Victorian Lace Tablecloths 

Feeling bold? Consider covering one or two tables in lace tablecloths. While too much lace can look overwhelming, use the fabric for a few focal points, like your dessert table, the bar or the guest book table. It'll make your reception space feel romantic and antique without looking too outdated. 

Mirrored Guest Book 

If you're successful in your thrift store search for antique mirrors, include one at your wedding guest book station. Ask a friend or family member with elegant penmanship to write a note on the mirror encouraging guests to leave their well-wishes in the guest book. 

Art Deco Wedding Invitation Suite 

To make your wedding invitations stand out in the mail pile, opt for a design that matches your vintage theme. Guests will be seriously impressed by the style continuity—plus, the invitation suite will help set the tone for your big day.

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