New This Month

8 Vintage Wedding Traditions Planners Still Love for Contemporary Celebrations

Fill your big day with old-fashioned nostalgia.

Contributing Writer
aubrey austin wedding not looking
Photography by: Ace & Whim

It seems like most couples are saying goodbye to longstanding wedding traditions in order to fill their big days with contemporary trends and personalized details. While there's nothing wrong with embracing modern ideas, some brides and grooms are nostalgic for the simple traditions of decades past. After all, as the saying goes, everything old is new again. Here, four wedding planners share their favorite vintage wedding trends to include in your ceremony and reception.

 

Related: New Ways to Honor Classic Wedding Traditions

 

Groom's Cake

Jennifer Thye, owner of Imoni Events, loves the idea of a groom's cake. The tradition originated in 19th century England as a way to honor the groom, and it eventually became popular in the American South. Single women took home slices of cake and stashed it underneath their pillows before hitting the hay. Although aspects of this tradition are clearly outdated, a groom can still showcase his tastes with a personalized confection. In fact, modern groom's cakes can be creative and fun; Thye recommended serving treats like pie, crème brûlée, and banana foster.

 

Leaving in Style

Planning to celebrate until the wee hours of the morning? Late-night partying is actually a relatively new phenomenon as the bride and groom traditionally departed early so guests could see them off. According to Melissa Andrushko, founder of Variety Vintage Events, most modern couples find it rude to leave their wedding early. "Bringing this tradition back would encourage them to take a honeymoon right away or spend their wedding night together as it should be. Plus, guests get excited to see the couple off and say goodbye," she explains. If you plan to leave early, consider getting a getaway car—complete with tin cans and a "Just Married" sign—for a grant exit you'll never forget!

 

Marrying on the Half-Hour

Katie Colosi, director of events at Laurie Arons Special Events, explains that it used to be traditional for couples to tie the knot on the half-hour mark. "Setting the ceremony time at half-past the hour was said to bring blessings upon the couple, because the minute hand is 'ascending towards heaven' and the marriage begins on the upswing," she says. "While most couples these days set their ceremony time on the hour, we love when couples embrace this charming tradition and wish them blessings as well!"

 

Planting a Tree

Trees symbolize new beginnings, which explains why newlyweds traditionally "put down roots" by planting a tree at their home. Incorporating this old-fashioned ritual into modern weddings can spur sweet sentimentality. "After the wedding, couples go back to their routine, and I don't think planting a tree is top of mind," says Andrushko. "But when you see the tree sprouting up, you get excited and happy!" Don't be afraid to get creative: couples can use dirt from important locations, recruit family members to help, or have a "tree planting ceremony" directly after their nuptials.

 

Related: 10 Royal Traditions to Steal for Your Own Wedding

 

Not Seeing Each Other Before the Wedding

Many of today's couples choose to have a first look, but Thye is nostalgic for the tradition of not seeing each other before the processional. "There is just something so magical about setting eyes on each other for the first time—not to mention the groom's face is always so emotional," she says.

 

Traditional Veils

In lieu of a veil, many contemporary brides decide to wear a flower crown, tiara, hair comb, or headband. But Calder Clark, owner and creative director of Calder Clark, craves the return of the delicate accessory. "I love when a bride wears a stunning cathedral veil with a blusher, so that her groom gets to reveal her lovely visage at the altar. There's nothing wrong with that kind of drama!" she says. Similarly, Andrushko loves the mysterious nature of face-covering veils. "There is something special about your spouse being the only person that gets to see your face," she says. "Veils have become a part of the dress again, and I love it!"

 

Handwritten Letters

Andrushko recommends the age-old custom of writing a letter to your spouse the night before the wedding, which they'll open on your first anniversary. "During the wedding process, couples get caught up in details, and they don't have time to sit down and write a letter," she says. "It's important for couples to remember the journey they have been on together. When you open the letter a year later, it's like falling in love all over again!"

 

The Inner Envelope

According to Colosi, postmen historically delivered wedding invitations on horseback, and the sealed outer envelopes got filthy in transit. When the letters arrived, the dirty envelope was removed to reveal an unsealed inner envelope, which was given to the recipient. Modern mail delivery has eliminated the need for the inner envelope, but Colosi says that having one will prevent letters from arriving torn, bent, or marked. "For formal weddings, we love to include a beautifully addressed and unsealed inner envelope, so guests will receive the invitation and envelope liner in perfect condition!" she says.