Practical Tips for having your own DIY Vintage Wedding

Perhaps it’s a sign of these austere times where people have to tighten belts and opt for less lavish and more creative weddings, but vintage and DIY weddings are all the rage. While it’s increasingly common to see wedding themes that hark back to ‘the good old days’, that’s not to say that these popular vintage weddings are unoriginal. First of all, ‘vintage’ is a very broad term and can encompass an extremely wide spectrum of eras. Secondly, the beauty of a DIY wedding is making it memorable with personal touches that will be totally unique to you.

The key is to pick an era or a theme to be the thread that ties the whole day together; be creative! Remembering; it’s easy to get distracted by pretty ideas and shiny things so it’s important to be disciplined and stick to the theme.

The question will be whether the theme determines the choices you make or whether the options you have determine the theme. For example, if your heart is set on a certain venue with a very distinct style, like a barn, consider making it the centre of your creative ideas: perhaps a country picnic with chequered tablecloths made from fabric off-cuts salvaged at the market, and tea lights in jam jars hung in trees or from the beams. Whereas, if you and your fiancé have a penchant for the music or fashion from a particular era, make that the inspiration for your plans.

Whatever your starting point, the first thing to do is create a mood board or scrap book, either physically or digitally, gathering cuttings, images and ideas. This will focus your thoughts on what to be looking for. Meanwhile, call upon the talents of those around you, the hobbies, skills and interests of your families, friends, bridesmaids and groomsmen are key to the success of a DIY wedding. Get your green fingered friends to start early, growing the flowers you want for your bouquet; nearer the big day, enlist the bakers in your family to whip up some tasty treats for the evening buffet; meanwhile, musical or artistic friends may be able to organise the entertainment or take responsibility for photography.

Here are some era specific ideas to whet your creative appetites:

Art Deco 1920s:

  1. Scope out old theatres or hotels for a venue with old school glamour.
  2. Use tall glass vases draped with pearls for centrepieces.
  3. Search for drop waist vintage dresses from thrift shops and make headbands from lace, beads and large silk flowers.
  4. Study Bugsy Malone and have the Bridal party perform a fun Charleston as part of the first dance.
Practical Tips for having your own DIY Vintage Wedding1
Roaring 30s/40s Tea party:

  1. Decorate a charming church/community hall with bunting and polka dot table cloths.
  2. Get baking to create a sumptuous spread of crust-less sandwiches, cupcake, macaroons, sausage rolls and homemade cloudy lemonade in demi-johns.
  3. Scour charity shops for assorted chintzy crockery to serve your goodies with mis-matched Cath Kidston style charm.
Practical Tips for having your own DIY Vintage Wedding2


Rockabilly 50s:

  1. Find a rockin’ bar, a skiffle band and party on!
  2. Visit Camden market in London, a treasure trove of cute 50s party dresses with edgy designs. Alternatively, opt for a more traditional gown with outrageous red shoes.
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Some general ideas for ways to make your own vintage wedding: 

  • Buy your wedding gown and bridesmaids’ dresses from vintage shops. If you see something that fits with your theme, snap it up and have it altered if necessary.
  • Make your own invites: use beads, antique lace ribbon, doilies and dried flowers on scrapbook paper or old postcards and send them in airmail or manila envelopes.
  • Websites such as Etsy are a great place to find unusual accessories. Contact the designers, discuss your theme and have something custom made. Or, trawl arty websites for ideas, collect beads, buttons, fabric and lace off-cuts and create your own hair pieces, centrepieces and party favours.
  • Venue decoration can be much more than flowers; consider ribbons, tea lights and fairy lights, visit salvage yards for old suitcases and steamer trunks, bicycles with flowers in the baskets, typewriters and gramophones
  • Photography is a cinch, encourage everyone to use the filters on their camera phones and editing software and send you their photos to create a digital vintage photo album.
  • Party favours could include small jam jars full of sweets, dance cards for guests to fill in or ironic little books such as ‘wedding etiquette’

Remember it is hard to pull off a DIY wedding (especially a vintage one) all by yourself, getting your loved ones to pitch in is fun and what’s more, it will make everyone feel involved and the big day will be extra personal.
About the author: Elliot McMahon works with Only Weddings, wedding planners serving London and South East England
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