How to Achieve Your Vintage Bridal Style

March 20, 2008 in handmade and vintage goods

Photo by, Sarai in her handmade dress and hat

Sarai Mitnick

Sarai Mitnick is a designer, vintage lover, and seamstress extraordinaire. Some of you may know from her blog, Sweet Sassafras. She's also created a line of sewing patterns and is proud to contribute to the revival of sewing as craft.

When my partner and I decided to get married, I knew I’d be incorporating elements of the past into my wedding. It was an obvious choice; not only does it reflect my personal style and love for vintage, but a wedding seemed the perfect opportunity to mix the old and new, blending traditions from the past into something that fit both of us.

Adding some vintage flair is also a fantastic way to look beautiful and elegant without losing personal style or looking like a cookie cutter bride. To use vintage elements, you don’t necessarily need to recreate a period costume or even stick to a particular decade. Have fun mining the beauty of styles gone by and mixing the old with the modern. Here are some tips for incorporating vintage style on your wedding day.

Define your own look. You don’t necessarily need an exact picture of what you want to look like in your mind. Just try to think of adjectives that describe the look overall. Think about this in the context of your own personal style. Do you prefer luxurious and glamorous, or sassy and cute? Slinky or frilly?  Girly or vampish? Write out a list of these descriptors for yourself and use this as a basis for picking out the elements of your look.

Look to the past. Take a look at the styles of decades past and decide which best suit the look you want. Watch old movies, look at books and find photos online from these eras. You’ll find some periods, such as the 1920s and 1930s, much more suited to a sultry, slinky look. Other eras, such as the 1950s and 1960s, are more suited to a playful look. If there are elements from different eras you like, don’t be shy about combining them! Think about what you wear normally, what you’re comfortable in and what looks good on you.

Start with your dress.  Since your wedding dress will be the focal point of your wedding look, the easiest thing to do is to start with the dress and build everything else around that. For a vintage dress, you have several options. If you have time and patience, try hunting down an authentic vintage gown. Another option is to look for reproduction dresses or to sew your own. If you are a blossoming seamstress, Etsy has no shortage of fantastic vintage sewing patterns. Just look carefully at the measurements, as sizing has changed over the years.


Choose your accessories. Accessories are one of the best things about a vintage bridal style. For whatever reason, women were much less skittish about putting things on their heads in the past, so there is no shortage of elaborate hat or veil styles to choose from. You can go for the super long veils of the 1920s, the crown-like headpieces of the 1940s, an elegant birdcage veil, a 1960s pillbox hat, or a gorgeous bloom tucked into your hair. Jewelry can be vintage or modern, to offset the rest of your attire. Look to old films and photos to find a style of shoe that suits your dress. You can dress up even the plainest shoes with gorgeous shoe clips, which you can find on Etsy or make from vintage clip earrings. Vintage handbags are also plentiful, and beaded ones are particularly lovely.

Find a hair and makeup style. Your wedding is a great excuse to try out those glamorous but somewhat labor-intensive hair styles of the past. You can find photos of these styles online and either have them recreated in a salon, or do it at home. If you choose to do it yourself, be sure to practice well in advance, as many of the techniques such as pin curls and finger waves are elusive and take practice and patience to achieve.  For makeup, nothing creates impact like red lipstick. I highly recommend Besame Cosmetics for inspiration.

Don’t forget foundation garments. In past decades, the right style could not be achieved without the right foundation garments, and some looks really are not the same without them. Try out lacy girdles, cinchers, garters, seamed stockings, and bustiers under your dress to look vintage from the inside out! Check out Vintage Opulence for beautiful vintage underthings.

The most important thing is that you feel gorgeous and enjoy yourself. Have fun with it, be comfortable, and let your own style guide you!

  • cakehouse

    cakehouse says:

    i saw sarai's amazing wedding through wardrobe refashion back when it happened....i'm impressed and inspired all over again :)

    12 years ago

  • Itybitybags

    Itybitybags says:

    What an amazing idea! I wish I was getting married again so I could have a 1930's wedding :)

    12 years ago

  • pinkangel

    pinkangel says:

    I love vintage style and plan to have plenty of vintage elements as part of my wedding- I'm really keen on birdcage veils and lace dresses at the moment.

    12 years ago

  • StacyRaeT

    StacyRaeT says:

    Another amazing article. I've really enjoyed this wedding series! Makes me want to do it all over again!

    12 years ago

  • mannmadedesigns

    mannmadedesigns says:

    It looks great again. I love the style of the STORQUE

    12 years ago

  • beyondthepale

    beyondthepale says:

    Oh, now this has really tickled my fancy! I adore vintage and am madly keen to incorporate that into our wedding, so this article was perfect inspiration, thank you!

    12 years ago

  • HandiworkinGirls

    HandiworkinGirls from HandiworkinGirls says:

    Amazing photos! Anything vintage catches my eye, but particularly lacy ballgowns and bejeweled accessories. These are wonderful!

    7 years ago

  • edieandglo

    kelly hickey from edieandglo says:

    Gorgeous!! The hair accessories are amazing and add so much to the richness of the style.

    5 years ago