Pick an Era, Any Era
Every decade has a definitive style, a unique place in history. There are so many to incorporate that spirit and panache into your wedding design. Be thorough with the design elements and you’ll have an impressive theme.
Defining Trends - Society structure was strict and coded. Afternoon tea in the Garden was an elegant soiree.
Attire - High-collared, lace-corseted gown with bustle. Opt for large brimmed hats or jeweled hair combs rather than a veil; gentlemen in top hat & long coat. Look to the movie “Titanic” for design inspiration.
Decor - English garden or Victorian home; antique lace in ivory shades and pale pastels. Accent with pearls.
Music - String quartet elegantly flows in the fresh afternoon air. First dance is a waltz.
Menu - Tea sandwiches, scones, Champagne Punch.
Magic Moment - Recess down the aisle in a shower of floating feathers.
Defining Trends - Prohibition couldn’t stop the energy of a decadent decade.
Attire - Light layers, shorter hemlines and longer veils. The waistline is non-existent. Black-tux with tails and top hat reigned for the men. Rent “The Cat’s Meow” or “It Happened One Night” for fantastic attire ideas.
Decor - Au Art Deco Hotel serves as your speakeasy. Let the architecture inspire your cake shape, invitation fonts, and flower accents.
Music - Ragtime piano during cocktails and a swing jazz hand to dance the Charleston. First Dance is a fox-trot to anything by George & Ira Gershwin.
Menu - Cocktails were essentially invented during this era; create a menu of specialty offerings (The Side Car, Bathtub Gin Martini, etc.).
Magic Moment - Guys take home their very own personalized flask and a pink flask for the ladies!
Defining Trends - During economic strife, Hollywood kicked into high gear with streamline fashion and musical extravaganza.
Attire - Dresses accented the feminine body, clinging and sensual. Fabrics are lush (heavy satin) to accent a simple design. Double breasted suit and bow tie for the gentlemen. “The Aviator” will provide plenty of inspiration for the apparel.
Decor - Give your guests the red carpet treatment, with screaming autograph seekers and paparazzi vying for their attention.
Music - The Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals lends a library of classic tunes. First dance in Fred & Ginger style to "Cheek to Cheek."
Menu - The Cosmo came into vogue during the ‘30s.
Magic Moment - Place a Polaroid from the paparazzi into a mini film tin as the party favor.
Defining Trends - Simplicity was key, but certainly not boring.
Attire - Even with wartime rations, 1940s gowns were distinct. Sophisticated hair styles accented with a flower help define the era. Military dress uniform or double-breasted business suit with fedora for the gentlemen. For inspiration, rent “The Palm Beach Story.”
Decor - After a trip to the courthouse, treat your guests to a swing dance lesson before the dinner reception at a supper club.
Music - Only the Big Band tunes will do—Goodman, Miller, Dorsey. Let Ella serenade your first dance "For Sentimental Reasons."
Menu - Straight from mom’s kitchen: home cooked comfort foods. Send guests home with a slice of groom’s cake (a traditional wedding favor).
Magic Moment - Making your get away in a 1940 Packard Limousine.
Defining Trends - The return to innocent, a boom in invention.
Attire - Gowns were fitted and bell shaped with lots of tulle and decorative accent. Veils were fingertip length. Gentlemen are styling in a midnight blue tuxedo jacket. The original “Father of the Bride” is a definitive example of 1950s wedding glamour.
Decor - Think sock hop, book a bowling alley or transform a high school gym into a “prom night.’ Color palette of cotton candy pink, mint green and lemon yellow.
Music - A DJ can spin early rock & roll standards. Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is a dream of a first dance selection.
Menu - What would June Cleaver serve? Gourmet-up the menu of Tuna casserole, macaroni & cheese, meatloaf with mashed potatoes—milk shakes for dessert!
Magic Moment - Guests are treated to a special appearance by Sandy & Danny look-a-likes.
From Hanson Ellis
Big Band Wedding Theme Invitations
- Fill balloons with helium and float them above the dance floor.
- Create several balloon bouquets and place around the room.
- Secure a mirrored, slow-turning "disco" ball over the dance floor.
- Add strings of small lights over doorways.
- Buy cheap children's musical instruments (saxophone, trumpet, etc.) and create an arrangement on the main food table as a centerpiece focal point.
- Have a fountain that produces bubbles.
- Use posters of famous people of the forties. Hang on the walls.
- Find pictures of cars, bi-planes, etc. that relate to that period. Hang on the walls.
- Give an actual antique photo of yourselves in an antique looking frame.
- Create a music sheet with your favorite song, roll up and secure with ribbon.
- Present small bottles of wine or champagne decorated with some ribbon and a string of fake pearls.
- Another idea is to buy cheap champagne glasses and fill with rose petals or mints.
- You could use wine bottles draped with pearls or army dog-tags.
- Lay long white gloves in the center of the table and scatter rose petals over them. Place a tall vase with a single rosebud next to the gloves.
- Buy a large champagne glass for each table and fill with glass beads; place a candle in the middle of each and drape fake pearls along its stem.
- Create a musical arrangement centerpiece. At a craft supply store, purchase miniature musical instruments (saxophone, trombone, trumpet, etc.), along with a small "music stand" and place an antiqued sheet of music with your songs on each stand.
Buy the small, plastic horns, drums, etc. available at craft stores (usually I've seen them in the Christmas section). Create small music song sheets and secure the instrument to the sheet with a ribbon. Hang as pew markers.
Make your wedding programs look like a music book, with a dark "leather-look" cover with your initials or names on it. On the inside, use a music score sheet for your backgrounds (faded, watermark type background) with your program information written within.
1940's Vintage Wedding Music
Any of the big band music that features Jazz and/or Blues -- basically, think "Lawrence Welk" (for those of you who remember who this is - if not, follow the link for a Wikipedia explanation.) You could hire an actual band or find a D.J. that enjoys this type of music and knows what to play.
Search for the appropriate music by the following artists:
A 1940's Big Band Wedding Cake
- Get a regular wedding cake (2 or 3 tiers) and place small, plastic musical instruments along the edges. For the topper, have two figures standing in front of a music stand.
- Have the cake shaped into a musical instrument such as a saxophone, trumpet, drums, piano, tuba, guitars, etc. Brass instruments were very popular then.