Think flappers, silent movies and the jazz age if you'd like your wedding day to have a roaring twenties feel. Dress your bridesmaids in straight hanging dresses with cloches (close-fitting, bell-shaped hats). For the bride, go for intricate beading on your gown. If your ceremony location and officiant permit it, opt for low backed dresses, which were also very much the rage. For your reception, consider a jazz band and a martini bar serving -- what else -- 'bootlegged' gin. The twenties was also the era of the Ford Model-T, a motif well suited to imaginative table centerpieces and the groom's cake. Send your wedding theme home with your guests in the form of CD favors featuring Duke Ellington or George Gershwin.
Due to WWII rationing, women often got married in their best dress, so the look for a '40s themed bride and her attendants is understated and tailored. Consider stockings with seams for women and streamlined, single-breasted suits for men. Bridesmaids might wear dresses with sweetheart necklines and three-quarter length sleeves, and small 'crown' hats with short veils attached.
For your reception, think swing. You may even want to consider a few dance lessons at the start of the party so that everyone can get up and dance. This was a great era for music and your guests can dance the night away to musicians like Frank Sinatra and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Favors might include a CD of big band music or, for a more whimsical feel, a ration or two of yummy chocolates complete with strict instructions not to hoard.
If you're planning on a '50s style wedding, you have plenty of inspiration to draw upon. Jacqueline Kennedy, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn were all '50s brides and you might consider drawing a detail or two from the dresses they wore. Short, bouffant veils were also popular and gowns tended to be fitted on top with full, ankle-length skirts. For the reception, why not go for a sock hop theme with a jukebox playing Tony Bennett, Chuck Berry and Elvis tunes, and a malt shop style serving station whipping up milkshakes in different flavors. For your groom's cake, you might consider an 'I Love Lucy', Elvis or '50s car theme. To further the fun, send slices home with your guests in Tupperware containers. Invitations motifs could include jukeboxes, records and cars with big fins.
If you've chosen a '60s theme for your wedding, why not go all the way with a Woodstock reception in an open field. Wear a light, flowing peasant gown and encourage your guests to show up dressed for fun in the sun. For wedding favors, anything tie-dyed will be perfect, including t-shirts, hair accessories or little boxes of chocolates wrapped in swatches of tie-dyed cloth. Music choices are almost limitless with artists like Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all making their marks during this era.
If you'd like a slightly more formal wedding, why not go for a Mod theme. Dress your groomsmen in sharp '60s suits and make your post-reception getaway on a Vespa scooter. The groom's cake provides more opportunity for imagination. Consider a scooter or a lunar landing module cake topper.
Break out your boogie shoes and get ready to dance the night away. Simply utter the word 'disco' to your DJ and he or she should be prepared to take it from there. Find a reception location with a huge glitterball and light your wedding cake table with lava lamps. For the wedding gown and bridesmaids' dresses, think loose and free flowing or, for a more daring wedding, short skirts. If you have long hair, wear it down in an informal style. Consider platform shoes for the women and ask the groomsmen if they're willing to grow some funky sideburns for your big day. In lieu of a dessert table, consider chocolate fondue at each table, with a selection of yummy treats to dip. Keep your dress code casual and dare your guests to break out their bell bottoms. Hold a contest for the best John Travolta impression.
Your wedding gown is classically romantic, á la Princess Diana. Think fairy-tale elegant. Bribe your bridesmaids to let you break out the hairspray for big, big hair or dress their feet in tennis shoes adorned with friendship pins for the reception. For the groom's cake, why not flash your new husband back to his Cub Scout days with a pinewood derby model race car theme. Movie and TV themed drinking glasses from this era make for fun centerpiece vases. Get everyone on the dance floor with music by Madonna, Prince and the Revolution and Duran Duran. Pass out prizes for the best moonwalkers. Send the whimsy home with your guests in the form of Rubik's Cube favors.
Candles, candles, candles! Choose a location with lots of stonework and stained glass and decorate key areas with chunky candles on wooden or metal stands. Carry candles down the aisle during the ceremony and exchange your vows at the ceremony location's front door as couples did during the Renaissance, if your officiant will allow it. Dress in dark, royal hues (definitely no white) with long sleeves and tastefully low cut necklines. In lieu of a veil, wear a wreath of fresh flowers or ivy. If your groom is reticent to go all out with a period tunic and breeches, dress him in slightly more fitted pants and a billowy shirt for a hint of the period.
Think roast meat, cheeses and pastries filled with meats and vegetables for dinner fare and, for dessert, consider a croquembouche in place of a traditional wedding cake. This traditional French wedding pastry (cream puffs piled in a pyramid with a generous drizzling of caramel) calls to mind the old custom of piling small cakes in a pyramid at the wedding feast. You and your new spouse must try to kiss over the pile for good luck. For reception decorations, try to incorporate wheat (symbolizing fertility) and tapestry designs for a wonderful Renaissance feel.
In 1840, Queen Victoria started a wedding fashion trend that has continued to this day when she donned a white wedding gown. For a Victorian wedding, look for a fitted bodice, full skirt and lace accents. Fashion advanced rapidly during the Victorian period, so you have many styles to choose from. Some potential accessories include flat shoes with ribbons or bows at the instep, kid gloves with a slit to free up the ring finger and embroidered stockings. Bridesmaids can wear veils along with the bride. Carry your bouquet in a tussy-mussy -- a cone shaped flower holder popular during Victorian times.
Indulge your sweet tooth by serving a wedding cake as well as a bride's cake and a groom's cake. The wedding cake was generally a fruitcake with elaborate white frosting. The bride and groom's cakes were smaller, with a slice for each attendant. The bride's cake was light and airy and the groom's dark and rich. Favors were baked into the bride's cake and the type of charm found in each slice brought a certain kind of luck. For the getaway, pass out a few satin slippers. The slippers are tossed at the car and if one lands inside, you and your new spouse will have good luck.
For a Wild West themed wedding, find a barn or other rustic location to evoke that frontier feeling. This is your opportunity to break away from the classic white wedding gown and tuxedo. Brides in the Wild West rarely wore white and often dressed in dark colored wool or linen dresses with colorful shawls. For the groom, think about a knee-length gentleman's coat and high-waisted pants with suspenders. And of course, boots.
Barbecue is a natural choice for the reception menu. Opt for real stick-to-your-ribs options, including beef, chicken, baked potatoes, etc. For a real western flavor, hire a fiddler or a bluegrass band and treat your guests to a good old-fashioned square dance. Consider a pony express motif on your invitations and a gold rush theme for your groom's cake. Send your guests home with playing cards or chocolate cigar favors.