Bridal Black Book: The Vintage Wedding Guide
Whether it’s a swinging sixties knees up, a speakeasy soiree or gloriously Gatsby-esque, going vintage is a unique take on the traditional white wedding.
To successfully navigate the endless era-specific options, we’re sharing our black book of the best venues, entertainment options and dress hunting spots. Now, all you have to do is choose your decade.
A vintage wedding most certainly calls for a vintage dress. There are replicas aplenty on the high street but if you want to truly channel your inner screen siren, go for the real thing. With rails of ancient lace and piles of marabou feathers, vintage shopping can seem a daunting task, but with a curated list of retail destinations (and designated coffee breaks in between) your dream dress can be found without breaking a sweat.
Nestled in a narrow space on Clarendon Street and trading solely on Saturdays from 11am to 6pm, A Store Is Born is possibly our best kept vintage secret. A weekly pop-up since 1983, it’s an absolute treasure trove for vintage hunters, full to the brim of hand beaded garb, silky kimonos, feathered frocks and slinky silk gloves. Be sure to give yourself ample time for a decent rummage.
Another vintage gem tucked away in Dublin 2, Dirty Fabulous is home to more than 200 vintage wedding dresses, sourced from the United States and spanning a centuries' worth of fabulous fashion. If you’re willing to bypass ivory, the ‘non-wedding’ dress collection is just as covetable, alongside a handpicked selection of gloves, hats and bags to compliment your outfit. Their blog is also well worth a browse if you’re looking for some inspiration before embarking on your search.
A sartorial smorgasbord for vintage lovers, Jenny Vanders is located on Drury Street. Just a glance at the impeccably dressed window of this style emporium will give you a taste for what’s in store- think lavish lace ensembles, sequin encrusted boleros (perfect for combatting the evening chill) and cabinet upon cabinet of sparkling vintage jewels.
Jewellery and Accessories
When it comes to vintage iconoclasts, it really is accessories that maketh the woman. Think Audrey and her oversized shades and pearls, Grace resplendent in her tiara and Elizabeth Taylor dripping in diamonds. Costume jewellery is the mark of a true vintage magpie, whilst gloves, hats and evening bags will go far in completing your perfect period ensemble.
Om Diva specialises in both vintage and contemporary wear. The vast selection of vintage replica costume jewellery offers everything from kitsch acrylic pieces, sparkling diamante chandelier earrings and glimmering cocktail rings. Pop downstairs to the vintage basement and discover the incredible selection of individually sourced vintage evening bags.
If you’re splurging on the real thing, you can’t go past Rhinestones on Andrews Street. A delight for the senses, hours can (and have) be lost pouring over the antique jewels, trying on everything from decadent diamante chokers, Art Deco drop earrings and trailing strands of iridescent pearls.
Forget dodgy DJs belting out the best of the eighties (unless that’s the decade you’re channelling, of course), there are plenty of options to really sweep your guests up and away to the good ‘ole days…
Brass and showbands are ideal for an authentic step back in time, whilst guaranteeing a packed out dance floor. The Speakeasy Band (formally the Irish Rat Pack) is a popular choice for top tunes from the twenties onwards. If you’re looking for something a little more niche, The Nouvelle Club Band reworks jazz tunes with a French twist.
Moving to the latter half of the century funk, soul and Motown take centre stage. The Papa Zitas, The Dionnes and Soul Purpose are all choice selections for getting your groove on. For something a bit brassier, a burlesque performance delivers a tongue in cheek take on vintage entertainment. Check out the Parlour Press for alternative options like burlesque fan dancers and retro DJs.
Whether it’s an intimate Prohibition-era gathering or sprawling fifties-style garden party, your venue choice will literally set the scene for your big day and there's a myriad of options to choose from.
A castle wedding is likely on the wishlist for most brides to be and the timeless aesthetic of these ancient dwellings perfectly lend themselves to a period wedding. Castle meets opulent country house at Castle Leslie, an impeccably maintained 16th century estate nestled on 1000 acres of pristine countryside. For a lavish setting fit for the royals, Huntington Castle in County Carlow offers a 400-year old barn perfect for a banquet feast, complete with an array of charmingly mismatched china crockery.
If you’re hoping to retrograde in the city, the Cabaret Club in Belfast is a slick and stylish hideaway guaranteed to coax out your inner flapper. For something slightly more genteel, No. 25 Fitzwilliam Place is a handsomely kitted out Georgian pile in the heart of Dublin city, offering bespoke wedding celebrations in utterly refined surroundings.
When it comes to achieving a vintage aesthetic, it really is in the details. From the flower arrangements and pocket chiefs to coupe cocktail glasses, those bespoke finishes will really make your day one to remember.
A dirty martini sipped quietly in a Manhattan jazz bar; a Mint Julep in the sweltering New Orleans heat; a jazzy fruit concoction at any number of seventies dinner parties; the art of the cocktail personifies many a vintage decade. Kick off your celebration with a custom cocktail, preferably served by a devilishly handsome waiter. Mint Events offers a bespoke cocktail service, as do Catch Bars and Events.
Dressing your own room allows you the freedom to create a truly custom setting. Swap floral centrepieces for brass candelabras, go for cut-glass crystal tumblers in lieu of wine glasses or go completely kitsch with a Tropicana inspired setting- think porcelain pineapple centrepieces and miniature punch bowls laden with maraschino cherries and cocktail umbrellas.
Vintage dresses are brilliant in their one-off charm, but this does pose something of a problem if you were hoping for matching bridesmaid dresses. Folkster stocks a fabulous range of gowns, in multiple sizes, often with vintage inspired detailing like sequinned panels, sixties-style goddess gowns and frou-frou fifties frocks. On the high street, two-pieces are perfect for achieving a vintage look - head to Coast for bouffant ball gown skirts and matching satin tops.