I was honored when Special Events recently asked me to offer my perspectives on the current popularity of rustic and vintage weddings. Since this is such an important topic in today’s wedding world, I thought it would be helpful to share the complete set of comments I made on this subject. Below are the questions posed by Special Events, and my responses are immediately following.
1) Is the rustic/vintage wedding theme still a hot trend, or is it starting to fade?
First of all, there is a difference between “rustic” and “vintage.” Rustic is typified by weathered, time-worn pieces (furniture) and accents (accessories) in a more casual setting. Examples include an old barn or a vignette of weathered country furniture.
“Vintage” applies to more refined furnishings, from the early 1900s to the 1950s, typically more “refined” than rustic. Examples are painted French chairs, glided sconces, toile or lace fabrics, mercury glass containers, pieces of silver and crystal chandeliers. “Antique” items are 100 years or older.
I don’t think rustic or vintage is a fad, but a style that will probably stay with us. However, it’s also important to note that neither rustic nor vintage should be considered a “theme.” Rustic and vintage are two styles (out of many style options) that a couple may potentially select. (Other popular styles include traditional, formal, casual, contemporary, modern and whimsical.)
The 'Sea of Sameness'
2) What are some of the “must haves” for the rustic wedding and vintage wedding? (That is, in linen, floral, tabletop, chairs, venue, etc.)
The plethora of bridal blogs show the typical items used at rustic or vintage weddings. But unfortunately, I believe these blogs are all swimming in a sea of sameness. If the rustic or vintage style resonates with a couple, I would encourage them to develop a unique “theme” which fits within that style, but also incorporates their unique tastes and personalities.
For example, Tamara and Damon’s wedding had a distinctively vintage style, but we developed a “Signs of Love” theme to make their wedding uniquely their own. Here’s a synopsis of their story:
As their relationship blossomed, Tamara and Damon created many romantic rituals that reflected their playful personalities. They loved to take drives in Tamara’s Mini-Cooper convertible with the top down. Every time they stopped at a red light, they would kiss. Whenever they spotted a Volkswagen Beetle on the road, they would play a game of “Slug Bug,” giving each other a love tap on the arm. And if they ever found a photo booth during their travels, they would always stop for a strip of pictures.
At home, Tamara and Damon kept mistletoe hanging in the hallway all year round, so they could kiss whenever they passed underneath. Once each week, they would take turns cooking “lovey dinners” – culinary creations that they had never tried before. And before quaffing a cocktail, they would dream up a poetic toast that rhymed.
After this darling couple selected Events of Distinction to design and plan their wedding, we first set out to develop an appropriate color palette for the celebration. When we asked Tamara what her favorite color was, she replied, “poppy red… and cobalt blue, aqua, peach, taupe and gold.”
OK, no problem. Working with a graphic illustrator, we were able to develop a logo for their wedding that included all of these colors, while vividly depicting the couple’s “signs of love.” We used this logo on several printed pieces, including the Save the Date card:
As guests arrived at the wedding, they were greeted with a vintage display of pre-ceremony beverages, positioned on the back of a classic pickup truck.
During the ceremony, the chuppah featured a vintage needlepoint heirloom that Tamara’s grandmother had made.
At cocktails we had a vintage display of silver champagne buckets used for the escort cards and a vintage stop light at the bar.
The dinner area had crystal vintage chandeliers ...
... hanging over a tablescape of “Sevres Antique” china and colorful centerpieces.
3) Do certain color palettes dominate the rustic/vintage wedding? If yes, what are they?
Absolutely not! All it takes is a little courage and confidence to create color schemes for any style of wedding. Start with the couple’s favorite colors. As the wedding transitions from ceremony to cocktails to dinner and dancing, change the mood with color. For Tamara and Damon’s wedding, we used peach and poppy red for ceremony; cobalt blue and gold for cocktails and aqua and peaches for dinner. After dinner we brought gold, aqua and peach together in a delightful combination, as shown in this delightful dessert display.
Who is the Rustic Bride? The Vintage Bride?
4) Is there a certain profile of the “typical” rustic/vintage bride? (Maybe her age, where she’s from?)
For some city-dwelling couples, a farmstead wedding may serve as an escape from the urban concrete jungle. After all, the grass is always greener on the other side (even when we’re in a drought).
Couples who have an appreciation for history may find the vintage style particularly appealing.
Why We Love Them!
5) Why do you think the rustic/vintage wedding is so appealing to brides? (Does it seem more “authentic” or more human in a high-tech age, other?)
The vintage-inspired wedding started to become popular as the economy was taking a downturn around 2008-9. Couples in the luxury market did not want to appear “over-the-top” and started thinking more about “green” weddings. Hence, vintage items from neighborhood garage sales and flea markets found a new life as nuptial décor.
I also think this style of wedding may be partly a generational issue. Millennial couples who have embraced the rustic and vintage styles may be doing so just to assert their independence from their parents (and style of wedding their parents had).
6) But if the rustic trend is starting to fall off, what trend is coming on strong? Old World elegant? Hip minimalist? Strong personal themes? Other?
I believe the word “trend” should never be used in the context of wedding & event design, because the key to developing a “trendy” design does not come from following the latest fads, but from capturing the couple’s unique personalities. Following a “trend” only results in creating a copycat look. That’s why I always focus on developing very personalized designs.
The Style Drivers
7) What are the biggest drivers that influence your brides’ desires—Pinterest images? Bridal magazines? What their friends just did at their wedding?
Brides do have an insatiable appetite for what’s new, but they are also inspired by great ideas from wedding design professionals. It’s up to the designer to be the creative genius and convert the couple’s personal tastes into a workable design. So the biggest drivers that influence our clients’ desires are my creative juices, along with their combined shared interests, ethnic heritage and personalities.
In closing, I would like to recognize and thank the very talented team of service providers who worked with me on Tamara & Damon’s wedding:
Desserts – Patisserie Angelica
Flowers and Décor – Michael Daigian Design
Lighting – Twilight Design
Linens and Table Runner – La Tavola
Photography – Caroline Ghetes
Rentals – Classic Party Rentals
Stationery – Union Street Papery
Joyce Scardina Becker, CMP, is designer-in-chief of San Francisco-based Events of Distinction. A celebrated event trendsetter with more than 25 years of industry experience, Joyce has been honored with 15 Gala and Esprit awards, as well as 33 nominations. She is the founding president of the Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA) and the founding director and instructor of the Wedding Planner Certificate Program, now offered online at California State University East Bay. Joyce is the author of "Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding," an award-winning “how-to” book for couples and industry professionals alike. Her ideas and events have appeared in more than 200 media outlets, including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Huffington Post and Msn.com.
Joyce’s event planning talents first began to bloom at age 5, when she orchestrated a “Surprise Halloween Party” for her kindergarten class. The surprise was on her mother, when the entire kindergarten class showed up at her front door!
Portrait by Michael Weschler.