Sophistication is the name of the game when it comes to pulling off a classic wedding theme. Here are our favorite ways to achieve this refined aesthetic on the big day.
If you're looking to create an event that's luxurious, chic, and timeless, then a classic wedding theme is the way to go. Forget the latest wedding decor trends — this style is all about using elements that will stand the test of time, from soft color palettes to monogrammed stationery, formal attire, and lots of bubbly, natch. We're here to help you ace this elegant aesthetic with our handy guide, which breaks down everything you need to know about classic wedding style from start to finish.
Considering a classic wedding theme? Check out our list of essential ideas below.
With the right decor, you can make a classic wedding theme work for almost any type of venue, but the most suitable types are country clubs, hotels, estates, ballrooms, and banquet halls. These venues are generally traditional and sophisticated to begin with, which will ultimately eliminate the need for you to totally transform the space.
If you prefer an outdoor venue, consider a European-style garden, formal courtyard, or a fancy estate (a castle, perhaps?). Try to avoid anything that's overly rustic or rugged. For a unique spin on classic wedding style, host your nuptials at a museum, conservatory, or other space that features elegant decor.
The great thing about a classic wedding theme is that it's always in style — and in season. As long as you stick to the basic concept of classic style, this aesthetic is versatile enough to work year-round. You can incorporate seasonal accents through your floral arrangements, stationery, and attire if you'd like.
For this style, you’ll want to choose wedding colors that are cohesive and refined. Typically, this means staying away from anything that is too vibrant or neon, but that doesn't mean your color palette has to be boring!
First, take a look at your venue’s existing decor (the wallpaper, carpet, lighting fixtures, etc.). If there are any prominent colors, try to incorporate them into your palette for a look that won't clash with your surroundings on the big day.
Neutrals are always a great starting point for a classic wedding theme. Gray, black, white, ivory, and beige can be paired with other colors to create an eye-catching combination — or you can skip the accent hues and go for an all-neutral wedding color palette instead. Incorporate depth by using a variety of textures and metallics, or add drama with colors such as red, blue, coral, emerald, or burgundy.
You can also switch up your color palette based on your wedding season. In the winter, opt for metallics and darker colors, like gold, silver, navy blue, and black. During the spring and summer, pastels are always a fresh option. We love blush, French blue, sage green, lavender, butter yellow, and peach.
In general, stationery for classic weddings should be traditional and formal. You can personalize your invitation suite by adding your wedding monogram (a must-have for any classic wedding), stripes, foil, letterpress script, or laser-cut filigrees. Finish the invitation suite with custom hand-calligraphed addresses for a regal touch.
While it can be fun to include all the latest trends on your big day, the last thing you want is to look back at your wedding photos in a few decades and wonder what you were thinking. When it comes to choosing classic wedding decor, ask yourself first, “Will this still look relevant in 20, 30, or 40 years?” If you’re not sure, then you might want to pass.
Look for pieces that are inherently classic, such as fine china, candelabras, votives, chair sashes, and luxe table linens. You should also keep the decor relatively understated, and skip anything that is too flashy or extravagant. That being said, classic wedding decor doesn’t have to be dull. Spruce up ordinary banquet tables with sequined runners, swap traditional Chiavari chairs for an upholstered style, or drape fabric swags throughout your venue. Ultimately, you should aim to achieve a vibe that is chic, elegant, and sophisticated.
Avoid mix-and-match elements, which will look too eclectic for a classic wedding. Instead, stick with two or three colors and use the same types of accents (pearl strands, lace, rhinestones, etc.) throughout the wedding to create a cohesive, well-planned effect.
When it comes wedding flowers, you can’t get more classic than roses (learn all about the types of roses here). We love roses for their timeless, romantic appeal and the fact that they’re available year-round. Not only do they smell oh-so-pretty, but roses come in dozens of different sizes, colors, and varieties. Peonies are also quintessentially classic, although they’re only in-season for a short time each year, so you can expect them to be more expensive than roses and most other wedding flowers as a result. Hydrangeas, phalaenopsis orchids, stephanotis, ranunculuses, and anemones are all great floral options for classic weddings as well.
If you’re carrying a bouquet, avoid anything too trendy, like oversized arrangements or an abundance of loose greenery. Instead, have your florist design a more symmetrical bouquet that sticks with a few types of flowers and accents. Finish the bouquet with satin ribbons, lace, or a sparkling brooch for a personal touch.
Don’t forget about your ceremony space! Floral arches look beautiful at the altar, or you can line the aisle with flower petals for a romantic effect. Just be sure you don’t go overboard with the floral decor—too much will take the focus away from you and your S.O.
Reception centerpieces should be relatively uniform, although you can add visual interest by alternating between tall and short arrangements on each table. It’s also important to choose the proper centerpiece vessels. Anything too informal or distracting can take away from the actual flowers and change the look of your centerpieces. A few of our favorite options for classic weddings are glass cylinder vases, rose bowls, and candelabras.
Depending on the formality of your venue, you should expect the dress code to be on the fancier side. Ballrooms and country clubs are more likely to require black-tie, while you might have the option to be more informal at a garden, museum or vineyard wedding.
A ball gown is the perfect option for brides who want that traditional classic look. Choose a minimal satin gown, or go for something more glamorous with tulle, beaded embroidery or intricate lace details. If a ball gown silhouette isn’t for you, fitted gowns and sheath gowns are equally classic alternatives. Accessorize with pearl jewelry (so timeless!), understated shoes, and a polished hairstyle. Finish your bridal look with a sash that’s tied in a neat bow around your waist.
If the venue requires a black tie dress code, men will need to wear tuxedos. For more casual attire, stick with a suit in a darker color, although don’t feel limited to the standard black. Navy blue and charcoal gray are both classic with a twist.
Cake and Dessert
It wouldn’t be a classic wedding without a traditional wedding cake. You can keep it simple with just the frosting and a topper, or you can ask your baker to add subtle decorative accents. Hand-piped icing, Swiss dots, monograms, and fresh flowers are just a few of our favorites. Fondant icing will give your wedding cake the cleanest look, but buttercream icing is oh-so-chic when paired with a few subtle flowers.