Making Vintage Feel Modern – 1950’s Styled Wedding Shoot


Written by Nancy Gorman of Makeup By Nancy.

Vintage weddings are some of my favorites to be a part of and today, they have become a common wedding theme.  I recently helped form a team to recreate a 1950’s themed wedding with some amazing and talented models. As the attire and décor unfolded, I was immediately back in an era of soda shops, sock hops, and drive-in movies.

It was also clear that there’s an art to creating a vintage vibe that feels fresh and modern, rather than stuffy.  Given that so few truly authentic pieces are still around from this era, getting just the right feel was challenging. Also, recreating 1950’s hairstyles and accessories can be difficult with fewer examples to draw from.  But, in this case, the entire look came together as a hit.

If you’re considering a vintage-era vibe for your wedding, there are a few tips that will help you reminisce on good old days at any modern wedding.

Choose Color Carefully

While you might not expect it, color is highly trendy by time period.  Remember that avocado-colored stove from your childhood? While color can be one of the easiest ways to recreate an earlier time, it can also be a way of artificially dating the look as well.

Newburyport, MA area wedding makeup artist, Makeup by Nancy, always recommends choosing era-specific styles but redone in modern colors.  For example, popular makeup in the 1950’s emphasized porcelain complexions with little to no blush or colorful cheek highlight. Eye makeup was often heavy, with dramatic black eyeliner and mascara.  The makeup of the era was always finished with dramatic red lips.

For this wedding, Nancy instead opted for more natural eye shadow shades, while keeping the dramatic eyeliner and mascara.  Using modern techniques, the cheeks, brow, and forehead were highlighted with pale blush shades, and shimmery powders to add a glow to the models’ complexion.  Rather than harsh red lips, we opted for a bright, but toned down red.

Not only does the result pop against Amesbury, MA wedding and lifestyle photographer Ebacher Photography’s bright backdrop, but it’s more flattering to each of the women while still reminiscent of the 1950’s style. Alison Ebacher killed it with her amazing photography skills.

Choose One or Two Elements to Emphasize

Where a lot of people go wrong when trying to create a modern vintage look is overdoing the historical pieces.  The key to a fresh and endearing vintage look is to use vintage highlights sparingly, but where they will have the biggest impact.

The key feature of vintage feel for each member of the wedding party were the period headpieces.  Not only did these pieces accent each model’s dress and style, but they varied between the bridesmaid and the bride, adding interest and more vintage feel.  However, giving each girl a unique look still keeps things fresh. Both the non-floral headpieces by Simply Done, who is amazing at making your ideas come to life, and the floral pieces by Beach Plum Flower Shop, complete the look, They are a premier and unique flower shop in downtown Newburyport catering to any bride’s inspirations.

Each headpiece also accents the classic 1950’s hairstyles by Hair Company K in the heart of downtown Amesbury, MA.  The classic updos featured on the models were popular for both special occasions and daily wear during that time.

Complimented by these very specific 1950’s features, the dresses from Pure Bliss Bridal Boutique, located in Newburyport, MA, speak to vintage cuts or shapes, but without feeling specifically vintage.  The blend of fabrics and colors shares a modern feel, while the dresses themselves are not overly styled as vintage or from the 1950’s.  No poodle skirts here!

Stick to Only One Period

This might go without saying, but to do vintage right, choose just one era to incorporate into your look.  Again, the idea here is to give the audience a hint of vintage. If you start combing looks or styles of different eras, things quickly become a bit muddy.  This is important to remember for attire for the groom and groomsmen. While it can be relatively straightforward to recreate female looks from the 1950s, doing the same for the gentlemen in a wedding might be more of a challenge.

To keep the theme cohesive, try to mirror the vintage accents that women include in the men’s dress and styling.

However you decide to go vintage, if you follow these tips you’ll be well on your way to a fun and unique experience for both you, and your guests!

We hope that you enjoyed this blog post and you now feel inspired to pull off a vintage-era wedding no matter who you marry. We are strong supporters of same-sex marriages as well as brides and grooms. Besides, two brides are always better than one!

{The Wedding Recipe}

Ebacher Photography

Pure Bliss Bridal Boutique

Beach Plum Flower Shop

Simply Done

Makeup by Nancy

Hair Company K


Megan Dickerson

Jodie Marie

Kiely Quinn