Old World Charm: How to Pull off a Romantic Vintage Wedding

We may have entered a new year and a new decade, but vintage-style weddings continue to be a popular theme for engaged couples.  And it’s no wonder: perhaps nothing lends itself to classic, elegant romance better than the vintage charm of historic eras. The resurgence of period-dramas such as Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire, and Madmen has many brides and grooms wanting to add a touch of historic charm to their big day.  Here is our guide for infusing your big day with an iconic vibe that will transport your guests to another era.  

old world charm wedding

The Perfect Setting

Your first step is to choose your venue wisely and decorate from there.  The more your chosen venue emulates the decade you’re aiming for, the less decor you’ll have to bring in to make the theme come alive.  You’ll find the Minneapolis Lumber Exchange offers several spaces that feature historic charm. For instance, the River Room infuses the allure of old-world style by incorporating the original windows and wood of the building, while Sawyer’s on Fifth has a natural exposed brick that will allow your wedding to beam with rustic charm.

rustic wedding

Once you’ve confirmed the perfect event space, it will be easier to get creative with interesting touches from the past.  Along with classic white, try to include cream, champagne, gold, and faded blush tones. Old-world charm doesn’t mean you need a Titanic-sized budget;  by going hunting through your grandparents’ attic or local antique stores, you can find a plethora of historic treasures that can be used in creative ways.  There is no shortage of vintage items that can lend themselves perfectly toward centerpieces and finishing touches: think old lanterns and lamps, vintage leather books, and silver-embellished photo frames and mirrors.  Teacups and teapots can be filled with candles or flowers, no matter how chipped or cracked they may be. For a glitzy look, go for an abundance of pearls, crystals, and feathers, while a more rustic approach can make good use of lacey elements combined with burlap.  Consider featuring family photos of decades past, whether they be black-and-white or polaroids. An old suitcase can be left open to collect cards; a vintage typewriter can be a place for guests to leave messages of well-wishes. 

rustic charm

Vintage Bridal Style


The Opulence of the Roaring ’20s:  Now that 2020 is upon us, the roaring ’20s are making a resurgence in popular culture.   Invoking this decade will give you the perfect chance to channel your inner Daisy Buchanan. Whether your dress embodies the loose, straight silhouette of the era, or takes a more modern twist, the use of fringe, feathers, or intricate beading with geometric patterns reminiscent of the Art-Deco era will put your look firmly in the extravagant ’20s. 

old world wedding dress

The Classic Romance of the 1930s and ’40s:

The style of these two decades is perhaps a bit simpler, but no less dramatic in class and elegance.  Dresses of this era tended to have a tighter fit and often featured slinky silks and satins. The ’40s were more impacted by war-time rationing but still evoked femininity and modesty with long sleeves, gloves, and sparkling brooches and pendants.  Complete the look with pinned-back curls, or wear hair loose in a face-framing coiffure.  


The Fun and Fabulous 1950’s:

If you love the look of the classic pin-up girl and rockabilly swing, this is the era for you.  Tea-length gowns with higher heels become popular in this decade, along with fuller ballroom skirts, sweetheart necklines, and crinoline petticoats.  Long-lace veils attached to headbands or pill-box hats–a la Jackie Kennedy– will add classic romance and charm to your look.

rustic charm dress

Food and Drinks


If you’re going for the 1920s to 1930’s Downton Abbey vibe, consider adding an “afternoon tea” aspect to your cocktail hour or reception.  Some iconic prohibition-style drinks include the Gin Rickey, the Sidecar, and the aptly-named Old Fashioned. If your focus is more toward the ’40s and ’50s, busting out the jello molds and meatloaf is not necessarily a requirement.  You can stick to classic, comforting American fare, or you might take the opportunity to use the theme of the quintessential 50’s diner and go with burgers, fries, and milkshakes served with striped straws. You can also create a station for guests to create their own ice-cream sundae. At the bar, martinis, Tom Collins, and punch made with sherbert can all be served.  


No matter the era, finger foods like shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon canapes, or scones with cream and homemade jam will fit nicely.  For dessert, homemade pies or mini-tarts are all within the theme. Remember: it’s not necessarily the specific food items you select to be served so much as it’s the way your food is presented.  

old world accessories

Fun Stuff and Finishing Touches


Allow your guests to escape into your chosen era with a few fun finishing touches.  During the ceremony, pass out old-fashioned handkerchiefs embroidered with your monogram and wedding date for your tear-inclined guests. Add some whimsy to your reception by featuring a photo-booth supplied with plenty of old-world props such as top hats, mustaches, pearls, feather boas, bow-ties, fans, and parasols.  Send your guests home with charming favors such as candle-filled teacups, rustic miniature lanterns, homemade jam in classic glass jars, or keychains made with old-fashioned skeleton keys. No matter what era you choose, your guests will go home with a sense of memorable nostalgia.  

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