bride and green inside retro seafoam green VW van

Cool Wheels

A splashy getaway car (like a cherry-red Mustang or Fiat) is a signature detail of retro weddings. However, we love the fun of a VW van or cute, sherbet-colored camper a little more. You can use these to exit your wedding, as your food carts, or even just a delightful backdrop for your wedding photos.

There are plenty of places you can rent these vehicles, and some local catering companies even have food carts like the trailer below that will do the trick!  Many cities also have vintage RV resorts, so if you really want one of these delightful gems in your photos, see if one is in your area and grab your photographer!

retro aqua and white food cart camper with cupcakes

Era-Appropriate Beverages

From an ice-cold bottle of Coca-Cola to a devilishly good martini, the 1950s and 60s had the coolest beverages ever (take that, Red Bull).  Put Coca-Cola on display in vintage crates and in coolers for the mocktail set.

glass bottles of Coca-Cola in vintage crates

Look at a bar book from this era and you'll soon realize people liked their cocktails with a side of tropical and complicated. These sweet, peppy drinks will go down easily, so also make sure to have plenty of water available.  We love this modern take on the classic old-fashioned (below, left--in a fantastically retro glass) or a fruit-laden mai tai (below, right) for a festive celebration.

old fashioned with cinnamon and pomegranate
modern mai tai with tropical garnish

Beyond Solids

Throw a strict color palette out the window if you're choosing a retro theme, because it is all about prints and patterns!  With a wide range of traditionally retro prints up for grab, there's no reason you need to choose only one!  Layer florals and gingham or starbursts and polka dots--whatever you love. Keep it to a general color scheme and watch things like scale (generally you want to closely pair a small scale pattern with a large scale pattern) to balance the overall look.

colorful retro tablescape for fun wedding with floral patterns

The sweet tablescape above used tons of floral and polka dots for their details in shades of pink, aqua, and orange.  Below, a more mod style was embraced with large and small scale "burst" patterns and graphic leaves.

bold retro patterns on mod wedding tablescape

Look for subtle places to add prints, like these Kraft paper escort cards (below). Adding these patterns throughout your decor details will give them a definite retro vibe!

polka dotted escort cards for retro bridal shower

These fabric wrapped napkins (below) are the perfect touch to a backyard reception with a retro theme!

napkins wrapped with retro print fabrics

Starting in the early 1950s, it was even popular to feature a print on your wedding dress, such as with this polka dotted bodice overlay (below).

retro wedding dress with polka dot bodice overlay

Go Tea Length

If you want an instant retro look for your wedding day, that means a tea-length gown.  Thankfully, this length and silhouette is generally very flattering (petite brides, make sure to hem your dress a wee bit shorter than a mid-calf length).  As an added bonus, a dress like this will make it easy to show off your adorable peep toed kitten heels!

tea length a-line wedding dress in lace with open back
retro tea length wedding dress with full a-line skirt

Although lace is generally the most signature fabric with retro wedding dresses, you can also use other details like illusion necklines, columns of tiny buttons, and scalloped edges to add extra style.

retro bride with tea length wedding dress and pink heels

Although dresses of this era were often available in muted tones of nude, blue, and blush, brides who want extra color can add brightly colored crinolines underneath their voluminous a-lines!

Love that Smile Photography copy

Glam Makeup

Completing your retro attire is all about dramatic, bold makeup. For brides wanting a classic pin-up look, go for perfectly arched eyebrows, winged liner, and a red lip.

classic pin-up girl makeup look with arched eyebrows

Wear a birdcage veil to make your makeup look even more dramatic!

retro bride with red lipstick and gold birdcage fascinator

Those brides that want to embody 1960s glam, need to break out thick falsies, nude lips, and tons o' highlighter for dewy skin. Wear your hair big and high!

Mon Cheri copy

Credits:  David Long   |   Enjoy Cupcakes   |   Catch My Party   |   A Side of Sweet   |   Modern Tiki   |   David Long   |   Christina Karst Photography   |   Nessa K Photography   |   Carla Ten Eyck   |   Stefan Hellberg   |   Colin Cowie Weddings   |   Cutting Edge Brides   |   Rebecca Wedding Photography   |   Love That Smile Photography   |   Idda van Munster   |   Natascia Fileppi   |   Mon Cheri