My Big Fat Vintage Wedding

My Big Fat Vintage Wedding

Whether you're looking to re-create your ancestors' nuptials or just to understand their wedding traditions, here's how to beat those wedding-bell blues the old-fashioned way.

Planning a “vintage” wedding used to mean wearing your mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress. Not anymore. Today’s brides who dream of weddings reminiscent of yesterday step all the way back in time, piecing together historical details for every aspect of the ceremony and reception. While dressing the part—with an antique or historically designed wedding gown—is still usually the first consideration, no detail is overlooked, from period clothing for the entire wedding party and sometimes even guests, to the flowers, rings, location, food and photography.

Modern brides can base their vintage weddings on a particular time period or historical theme, such as the Victorian era or the glamorous 1920s. Nancy Eaton, author of Your Vintage Wedding (HarperCollins), even suggests picking a time period that coincides with collecting hobbies or favorite movies. Other couples plan vintage weddings with a family history theme—re-creating a family event or ethnic traditions.

Planning a period wedding based on family history is easier than you might think: Looking at a family tree, you might discover wedding parallels such as a date popping up over and over. For instance, my husband and I were married on the same day as my parents—but 34 years later! You can incorporate family heirlooms such as a wedding ring, gown or veil. Or replicate traditional recipes or wedding menus for the reception.

The boom in period weddings may reflect the popularity of genealogy or simply nostalgia for a more “romantic” time. Whatever the reason, vintage-wedding planning means researching the history of the time period or traditions you want to represent—in short, it’s a lot like genealogy. And even if no one in your family is preparing to tie the knot, learning more about your ancestors’ wedding traditions can shed new light on this crucial point in your pedigree charts, making a marriage more than just a date when two branches of your family tree came together. You can use what you discover about wedding traditions to make your heritage albums more accurate and colorful. You might actually get some insight into Great-grandma’s wedding photo, probably one of the few images of her.

And you never know—you or someone close to you might suddenly get shot by Cupid’s arrow and have a hankering for “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Particularly the part about “something old.”

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