July 11, 2011

Planning the perfect vintage wedding

When it comes to your wedding theme, old-world vintage is one of the most romantic options to consider.

From the Lincoln Center, New York to the Grand Palais, Paris, collections from the Spring/Summer 2011 runways showcased a plethora of vintage-inspired wedding gowns.

The likes of Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and Monique Lhuillier sent romantic, vintage creations down the runway, many in Alençon and Chantilly lace, with unique detailing such as a long-sleeve coat, satin sash or an interesting neckline.

Clearly the vintage wedding trend is here to stay for at least another season.

Recent bride Elyse Ogston, 23, chose the vintage theme for her wedding to Radek Graczyk, 28, as she feels the look is timeless.

“Vintage is so classic and I wanted to choose a style that I could look back on in 20 years time and still love,” she says.

If you’re opting for a vintage-inspired wedding theme – from your venue, music and cars to your invites, bomboniere and flowers, one of the most prominent ways to channel vintage is with your wedding dress.

In fact, your wedding dress sets the mood for the entire day – most eyes will be on the bride after all!

Dresses from yesteryear (whether original or not) are not only glamorous and inspiring, but are often more romantic than their more modern counterparts.

If you’re sourcing a truly authentic vintage dress you can canvass friends and relatives who may be willing to give, lend or sell you a dress which has been passed down through generations, otherwise you can scour specialist clothing stores or eBay.

However, don’t feel obliged to buy an authentic vintage dress. If it's really only a certain silhouette you're after, you can very easily have a reproduction of a vintage gown made.

Designer Angela Marcuccio says the 30s, 40s and 50s are a big inspiration for her current collection.

“The fabrics that are available at the moment lend themselves to an art deco or vintage feel,” Marcuccio says.

“The celebrities of old were so glamorous and the 40s were such a feminine era. The fashion techniques like handcrafted drapery and hand stitching in these pieces are so special. Vintage wedding gowns really are stunning works of art.”

Elyse achieved her vision of a vintage, empire-line gown with a couture design from Strictly Bridal, which featured a full train, beaded lace bodice, lace cap sleeves and a 3.5 metre mantilla veil with beaded trim.

“I incorporated the vintage theme with the lace in my dress and veil,” explains Elyse. “My shoes also followed the theme and were a French-style peep toe with lace detail and bow.”

“I chose a beautiful antique mauve colour for my bridesmaid’s dresses. This soft shade suited the day perfectly and I believe brought everything together.”

Going to the chapel

There are plenty of venues which cater specifically for couples searching for the perfect vintage setting.

Some great options include a vineyard or winery, a historical ballroom with antique furnishings or a more basic venue which you can “dress up” by hiring chandeliers, candelabras, floral displays, and vintage chairs, tables and linen.

Driving Miss Vintage

Alighting from a silver 1920s Buick or a cream-coloured 1930s Chrysler is the perfect way to make your entrance (and exit) in true old-fashioned style.

Simply picking a car from the era you are targetting is easy and will more come down to the particular look of a car you favour.

Stationery from yesteryear

For invites, menus and place cards, throwback stationery styles, like letterpress printing and tea-stained papers, can instantly enrich your stationery with nostalgic charm. Or try lining your stationery with the same lace you have chosen for your dress.

“A beautiful damask pattern with classic font styles is perfectly matched to a stylish vintage wedding,” suggests stationery designer Christine Levy. “Or go for a more avant-garde design with vintage embellishment.”

“Whichever style you pick out, your invites are the first ‘introduction’, if you like, of your wedding to your guests, so you need to get them right,” Levy says.

A pretty posy

Nothing spells vintage quite like soft-pink David Austin roses, though opting for any flower in a softer colour will help you achieve that vintage look. Think pastel pinks and soft browns, white and cream. Use neutrals to accent, such as chocolate brown or taupes. You can also choose bunches of violets, ivy tendrils, lilies, hydrangeas, peonies, carnations, poppies or cornflowers.

Florist Barbara Jones says once-favoured contemporary colours are making way for a softer look.

“Brides today seem to generally be going for softer and more antique flowers,” says Jones. “Vintage looks are in, with old-fashioned flowers such as carnations and baby's breath making a big comeback.”

You can also have your bouquet arranged as per your era. Posies were extremely popular during the 1910s that were later replaced with shower bouquets in the 20s, which all but disappeared during the more austere 30s, where corsages were often worn.

The smaller touches

There are plenty of personalised touches you can add to take your vintage theme even further.

Scatter framed sepia or black and white photographs of yourselves (perhaps from your engagement party) around your wedding venue. Display vintage pieces among your wedding décor such as old books, a typewriter and vintage-inspired luggage. Place flowers arrangements in antique crystal vases and hunt down an authentic antique cake topper. Give guests favours which tie in with the era, such as monogrammed handkerchiefs for the ‘20s or quirky Pez dispenses for the ‘60s.

Wedding ideas for every era

1920s: Embrace the era of the Roaring '20s with the flapper look. Think dropped-waist dress styles with plunging necklines, ornate headdresses and long pearl necklaces. Have a jazz band playing at the reception and arrange for your photographer to set up an old-time-photo studio where guests can have 1920s snapshots taken.

1930s: As revellers searched for distractions from the Great Depression, this era's fashion was inspired by Hollywood glamour. Go for curve-accentuating dresses with luxurious textures and don Art Deco jewellery. The 30s was also the golden era of the lindy hop - a type of swing dancing. Why don’t you and your groom-to-be surprise guests by preparing a dance routine for the reception?

1940s: Wartime rationing called for simple designs, so opt for a slim fitting suit or a drop shoulder slender fit satin dress with full length gloves and even a hat with a netted face veil. Swing was huge at the time so go all out with a big brass band!

1950s: Ultra-feminine styles were the "in" thing in the ‘50s, represented best by Dior, with full skirts, rounded shoulders and a very emphasised waist. Incorporate polka dots, stripes and ribbons into your invites, arrive at your wedding nuptials in a Pink Cadillac and try novel ideas like a jukebox as well as a rock ‘n’ roll band and set up a soda fountain for guests.

1960s: Wedding attire was influenced by the über fashionable Jacqueline Kennedy, and featured A-line dresses with three quarter length sleeves or lacked sleeves in favour of formal gloves. To really channel this groovy era, use lava lamps as table centerpieces, scatter love beads and daisies at place settings and serve Champagne in a coupe – the shallow, broad-bowled, stemmed glass that was the glass of choice during the 60s.

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