Victorian Wedding Ideas for Your Old-World-Inspired Affair
Planning a wedding in this day and age often leads couples to work their immediate surroundings—namely, contemporary trends—into their big-day details and décor. We can understand why: There's something so sleek and chic about contemporary affairs, the result of all-white color palettes, modular furniture, and architectural installations. If you're more of a romantic, though, this particular event type can feel cold, which is why you probably gravitate towards old-world wedding themes. Believe it or not, planning a vintage-inspired celebration comes with more versatility than its contemporary counterpart (just think about all of the different historical eras and global décor styles there are to choose from!).
If you're set on transforming your big day into an exhibition of the past, we'd like to highlight one particular time period for your consideration: the Victorian Era. The reason? The period of Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) is particularly important to the weddings of today. The young monarch popularized the white wedding dress when she wore a cream silk garment during her wedding to Albert of Saxe-Coburg (she's often ascribed as the first to do so). That wasn't the only wedding trend she heralded in. She was also the first English royal to carry a myrtle bouquet down the aisle—a tradition that has since been executed by virtually every royal bride (Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle included) ever since.
There's more to the era than just Queen Victoria's wedding-related contributions though. It was a time marked by incredible furniture, romantic fashion (corsets excluded!), and Gothic literature—all of which still resonate today. Why not then include elements of the era into your wedding day? Ahead, you'll find a myriad of ways to work the very best of the Victorian Era—from its high-necked dresses and intricate dinnerware, to moody color palettes and gemstone engagement rings—into your own old-world event. Click through to discover all of our favorite Victorian wedding ideas for an impossibly elegant affair inspired by the motifs of 19th century England's aristocracy.
Though a Victorian-themed wedding can take place in just about any venue type, a castle is obviously the most relevant. Opt for a fortress covered in crawling ivy and lush foliage for an added on-theme touch. Here, this couple posed in front of Israel's Allegra Hotel, which the photographer chose for its likeness to Thornfield Hall—one of the fictional residences in the Victorian novel Jane Eyre.
Another venue option? An old-world apothecary—like the Pharmacy Museum in New Orleans—still lined with the medicinal herbs and tinctures of the past.
If you can't find a location that acts as a relic of the era, introduce relevant furniture into the space, instead. A velvet chaise, like this rental from Pieces by Violet, is a welcome addition to a big-day lounge, especially when it comes in a striking aquamarine. Make like planner Citygirl Weddings and complete the vintage vignette with popular books that were published during the period.
Lace Table Setting
Handmade lace was revitalized during the Victorian Era—which makes covering your reception tables in the frilly fabric that much more appropriate. C&D Events was responsible for designing and executing this ornate scene, complete with candle sticks, a greenery garland, and a dramatic chandelier; CE Rentals supplied the linen.
Victorian brides wore wedding dresses made up of many layers, beginning with gauzy petticoats (fitted bodices were another key attribute of big-day style). Today, those silk-lined underlayers can inspire a gown's actual skirt. Looking for something vintage? This bride's garment was actually an authentic Edwardian lawn dress (a piece from the following era, but one that still recalls the fashion from its predecessor).
Gothic Dessert Table
Is there anything more romantic and antique-inspired than deckle-edged invitation suites? This Written World Calligraphy set looks like it was plucked straight out of the 19th century.
Victorian wedding veils were often long and dramatic, made from lace and sheer cotton, and situated at the base of the head underneath a bushel of flowers. This bride swapped out the florals for a modern metal headpiece but still channeled the time period on her wedding day, thanks to her Suzanne Harrington veil.
This mixed-metal place setting puts a contemporary twist on its otherwise antique pieces, like vintage dishes and elaborate silver chargers from Etablir Vintage Event Rentals.
Victorian Dining Room
If you can find a venue with oak-paneled walls, vintage portraiture, and a gilded ceiling, you and your guests will feel transported back in time during dinner. This event took place at the Ardington House in Oxfordshire (the historical home once belonged to one of the first recipients of the Victoria Cross, a high-honor that was awarded to war heroes by Queen Victoria) and was styled by Petra Opperman Weddings with florals by Foxgloves and Roses and tabletop wares from Floral Vintage Crockery.
Victorian Engagement Ring
Though the notion of the diamond engagement ring took off during the Victorian Era, gemstone iterations were just as popular. Queen Victoria herself wore an emerald ring—her ring was shaped like a snake and featured a jewel-set head—but ruby rings, like this one, were also in style.
High-Neck Wedding Dress
If you don't want to plan a full-blown Victorian-inspired event, but want to be a subtle homage to the era, consider wearing a high-neck wedding dress, like this one from Marina Valery Bridal.
Queen Victoria loved cameo jewelry (she popularized the style so completely, that the age-old pieces became mass-produced by the latter half of the 19th century), which makes them a must-have at a Victorian-themed wedding. We love how this couple asked their cake baker to translate the trend onto their wedding cake, using their likenesses.
Orange Blossom Centerpiece
Virtually every Victorian bride incorporated orange blossoms into her wedding day ensemble; the Queen also kickstarted this tradition—she bypassed the standard diamond tiara for a crown of the meaningful bloom on her own big day. It's an easy enough motif to recreate at your affair: Wear a flower crown like the Queen or work the blossoms into your tabletop arrangements, à la this orange blossom centerpiece by Flourish By Kay.
A castle illustration, golden crests, scrolls, vintage portrait postage, and butterflies: Could this Appleberry Press invitation suite be any more Victorian-inspired? Fun fact: Butterflies were one of the most popular insignias of Victorian fashion (though they typically connoted omens of death, they were used on many a wedding dress).
Heirloom Engagement Ring
Diamond engagement rings actually took off during the Victorian Era, which makes an heirloom piece from the period all the more appropriate.
Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley represented new beginnings during the Victorian Era, making them the ultimate bloom to carry down the aisle during your own big day. This petite clutch was created by Sharla Flock Designs.
Vintage-Inspired Escort Cards
This tabletop scene—featuring moody, scarlet rose centerpiece off-set with moss, pewter goblet, and votive candles—looks like something straight out of an Edgar Allen Poe novel. Tashana Klonius Photography and Design Co. designed the tablescape.