How to Pull Off a Retro Wedding

Retro wedding party with vintage car

Photo: Lauren Kinsey/Bella NYC

Maybe you’re an old soul. Maybe there’s a specific era in time that you wish you could have been around to enjoy. Or maybe you just love a theme party.

Whatever the reason may be, we love it when a couple throws a retro wedding!

Planning even a small, simple wedding can be a lot of fun. But planning a retro bash that captures a certain era in time can be even more exciting!

Whether you’re thinking about going back to the ‘20s, the ‘50s, or the ‘70s for your big day, we’ve got some tips to share. 

Here’s how to pull off a retro wedding (the right way).

Choose Your Era

First things first …

Before you start buying vintage dresses and choosing first dance songs, you’ll need to figure out what kind of retro wedding you want to have. Any past era or decade will do, just hone in on a specific time period to make it super authentic.

To pull this off, you’ll need to do some research. Look at the fashion from that time period, the cars, the hairstyles — the more you know about your era, the easier it’ll be to plan your retro wedding.

Book a Retro Venue

If you can, book a venue that dates back to your time period.

Going for an art deco look? 

Have your reception in a historic hotel built in the 1920s or 1930s.

Want to have a free-spirited boho wedding with a ‘70s vibe? 

A barn will make for the perfect venue!

Is your favorite era the 1950s or 1960s? 

Look for a venue with a mid-century modern vibe.

Your venue, along with its architecture and décor, will set the entire tone for your reception. So choose a venue that has the character of your retro era!

Choose Your Wardrobe Carefully

Retro bridesmaids dresses

Photo: James Walters/Bella Raleigh

The most important part of a retro wedding is, quite arguably, the outfits. 

Clothing and hairstyles change from decade to decade, and there are looks that are super-specific to certain eras.

Everything from the bride and groom’s outfits to the bridesmaids’ dresses and flower girl’s dress should fit the chosen theme.

What Should the Bride Wear?

It’s all about the wedding dress!

A retro gown from the time period might seem like the way to go, but it could end up looking more like a costume than you intended. Instead of wearing a vintage wedding dress, look for a modern dress with vintage-style details. 

Going for a 1950s vibe? 

Look for a knee-length or tea-length A-line dress with cap sleeves.

Having a roaring ‘20s reception? 

Ditch the flapper dress in favor of a long gown with intricate beading and sequins. 

Throwing a ‘70s-inspired bash? 

Look for a long chiffon dress or a lace dress with ruffles, long sleeves, or a high neckline.

Retro Bridesmaids Dresses

When it comes to a retro wedding, retro bridesmaid dresses are key! After all, you want your bridal party to complement the bride and wear dresses that include some of the same details.

Consider flared tulle bridesmaid dresses for a ‘50s theme. Dress your girls in beaded sheath gowns from Adrianna Papell to pull off a 1920s Gatsby wedding theme

Going for an ‘80s feel? 

Outfit your bridesmaids in strapless cocktail dresses!

Check out Bella’s collection of vintage-style bridesmaids dresses!

How Retro Should the Guys Get? 

There’s no need for the groom or groomsmen to wear powder blue tuxedos with ruffled shirts. They don't have to wear vintage suits with extra-wide lapels and loose, pleated pants.

No one has to sport an Elvis inspired pompadour unless you really want them to.

Just like the bride, the groom and his groomsmen should look for little details to give their look a unique retro feel. Depending on the era you’re going for, accessories like suspenders, ties, and hats can make all the difference!

Pay Attention to the Little Details

If you want your wedding to have an authentic retro vibe, you’ll need to pay attention to every last detail, including your hair and accessories.

Do your hair with victory rolls and bold bangs for a 1940s look. Have your hairstylist do some soft finger waves for a chic and glamorous 1920s look. Be the perfect 1970s boho bride with long soft waves and a center part. 

From your jewelry to your veil to your shoes, the little details can make or break your entire look!

Arrive in Style

Retro wedding car

Photo: Oliver Fly Photography

We love a grand entrance (and a grand exit). And there’s no better way to create a retro vibe for your wedding day than by arriving and leaving in a vintage car from your chosen decade.

There are classic car rental services all throughout the country, so it’s easy to find a car from just about any era.

Whether you look like you’re rolling up to Downton Abbey or cruising in Greased Lightning, all eyes will be on you.

Plus, just think of all the amazing wedding photos you can take of you and your spouse posed with that awesome ride!

Hire the Right Band

Having a 1940s wedding? Hire a big band. Throwing a swinging ‘60s bash? Customize a playlist based on your favorite Motown tracks.

Playing music from your era will put your reception over the top!

But doesn’t mean you can’t gather with your bridesmaids and dance to your favorite T-Swift songs. You can. Just mix it up between your favorite current tunes and music from your retro era. 

Give Your Guests a Heads Up

It’s always a good idea to let your guests know what type of wedding you’re having, especially if you’re throwing a retro reception.

One way to do this is by using vintage-inspired fonts for your save-the-dates and wedding invitations. You can also mention it on your wedding website.

If you let your guests know your theme and era, they may decide they want to dress up, too. And the more people that are dressed in retro style, the more fun it can be!

Conclusion

Retro weddings can be super fun, super unique, and totally memorable — as long as you do it right!

Look for a retro venue. Rent a vintage car. Add some songs from the past to your wedding playlist.

And when it comes to dressing the bride, groom, and bridal party, be dedicated to your theme. 

From your dresses to your suits to your shoes to your accessories, the best way to pull off a retro wedding is to dress the part!

For more wedding ideas and tips, follow Bella Bridesmaids on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest!

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