How to Throw a Gorgeous Shabby Chic Wedding
The term “shabby chic” is one of many in a long list of trendy wedding descriptors that also includes “rustic,” “country,” “vintage” and others. Whatever the name of choice might be, though, the hallmark of this style is the intersection of the natural and casual with the clean and modern.
While the shabby chic style may sound like it’s slapped together in true “shabby” fashion, the truth of the matter is, it’s all about curating the perfect mix of homey and chic — the right blend of textures and patterns, both organic and man-made.
What makes shabby chic decor such a fun concept for a wedding is the amount of personal style that comes into play. It’s a great excuse to use old wooden furniture that’s seen better days, or to showcase natural fibers and beautiful elements that take their cue from nature, or really go wild by mixing together unique floral arrangements, displayed in antique glassware.
While shabby chic wedding decor may seem like just a passing trend, its easy, casual-cool vibe has so many variations that lend themselves to showcasing each couple’s personal style that it is sure to stick around for a while.
Newly Engaged? Let’s Start Slow
Planning a wedding is a lot of work. From the moment you get engaged right up to the point of exchanging the vows, there’s never a dull moment. With so many decisions ahead, from the menu to the lighting, the napkins or whether or not you want an open bar, the list goes on and on, presenting a whole host of challenges ahead. Enter the shabby chic wedding…
The shabby chic wedding takes a bit of pressure off the idea that everything needs to be perfectly polished. The point is to go for this with a very mix-and-match, DIY approach. Don’t fuss over matching table settings or the intricacies of a five-course meal. Try serving food family-style at tables adorned with tea lights and wild flower bouquets, or infusing your love of rustic details into the place settings. Incorporate vintage elements as décor, including old baskets, suitcases and bar carts to hold floral arrangements and wedding favors, or snacks and drinks.
The world is your oyster, so let’s tackle the shabby chic wedding theme one burlap-encased mason jar at a time.
Invites and More — We’re Just Getting Started
Even though your wedding is likely sometime in the somewhat distant future, set the tone for your shabby chic special day straight out of the gates with invitations that show off your personal flare for all things rustic.
First impressions are everything, so in the spirit of cohesiveness, sending out invitations that echo the theme is a great option. The vintage-y, shabby chic invitation gives your guests a little taste of what’s ahead. Here are a few rustic wedding invite ideas to get your guests in the spirit of all things wooded and antique.
Burlap, wood and lace all perfectly encapsulate the shabby chic wedding theme. Try adding touches of these elements to the invitation for something truly memorable. Add twine or lace to hold together different pieces of paper, like the RSVP card, the main invitation or anything else that you may want to include. These options are great for the DIY-loving bride or groom who would truly enjoy crafting their own invitations.
If you’re looking for something a little less bulky to send through the US Postal Service, or just want to focus that precious time elsewhere, you can still send some shabby chic invites. Stick to natural colors and imagery that evoke the natural, vintage theme. Maybe look for distressed-looking papers with tea-stained or burned edges. Keep the tones soft and romantic, in keeping with the palette you choose.
You can also take it back to nature and print your invites on seed paper — guests can plant your invitations, and by the time your wedding rolls around, they’ll have a beautiful crop of wildflowers inspired by your special day.
Whether you go all-out with your invitations or keep things simple, there multiple ways to present a shabby chic vibe from the start.
The Color Palette
The palette — from the napkins and invitations to the flowers and bridal party attire — is one of the biggest things to consider when planning a wedding, and quite possibly a major source of contention between the future husband and wife.
In terms of palette, the shabby chic wedding is generally characterized by its dreamy, washed-out colors and tea-stained fabrics. Keep things soft with a pastel palette, going mostly for creams, eggshells and rosy tones. Soft touches of greens and blues also work great for a little pop of color. Bold and bright colors are a bit jarring against the lace and mason jar aesthetic, but feel free to break the rules! It’s your wedding, so let your unique sensibilities take center stage.
Shabby Chic Wedding Decorations
Shabby chic wedding décor is all about the details, which are perfectly imperfect — think romantic colors, unique knickknacks and vintage touches all around. With its homey charm and at-ease chic, there’s no better way to usher in a lifetime of love than with a relaxed rustic wedding.
Here are a few ideas to get into the treasure-hunting, DIY spirit at the center of this hot wedding trend.
Lighting is key when putting together the wedding of your dreams. It’s that unexpected thing that brings together every element of the décor, setting in place the mood you’ve worked so hard to create. To get that vintage, romantic vibe, we’re thinking antique chandeliers, old school candlesticks and mixed-and-matched lamps. Or, you can always skew a little more toward the traditional with some pretty outdoor twinkle lights.
In any case, here are a few vintage wedding ideas to keep things well-lit and ready for their close up.
- Chandeliers — Keep the room bright with chandeliers, and let your shabby chic style fill the room from head to toe. Chandeliers are generally thought of as a symbol of opulence, but an older one can provide the perfect illuminated focal point for a dance floor or dining area.
- Candles — From tea lights to hefty, long-burning candles, employ man’s oldest invention: fire. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, and you can mix and match different shapes and sizes for a more custom approach.
- Eclectic Lamps — If your venue has plenty of outlets, light the place up with some quirky vintage lamps! If you’re planning on holding your reception at night, lamp light provides a warm glow, giving off the kind of living room vibes that’ll make your guests feel cozy and comfortable.
Flowers and Plants
- Unique Floral Arrangements — Wild flowers are a great choice for the shabby chic wedding. Mix and match different flowers. And if you’re thinking a more traditional look is more in line with your own personal tastes, pick a theme or color and build a unique bouquet around that idea. Try something like a mix of different white flowers, roses, daisies and baby’s breath, for example, which complements that vintage lace look that’s become so synonymous with the shabby chic aesthetic.
- Head to the Desert for Inspiration — Another alternative is the succulent display. A cool touch for a rustic wedding, these desert-friendly plants look great arranged in vintage glassware or jars, and feel a bit more modern than more traditional floral bouquets. Plus, guests can take them home after the festivities are all said and done as a favor.
- Twigs — This sounds a little low-end, but hear us out. If you’re into the woodsy look, incorporating twigs and tree branches as an alternative to going all-out with the floral look gives the venue a rustic, earthy aesthetic, which pairs nicely with pastel tones and lacy, feminine touches. Mix delicate twigs into arrangements with flowers and leaves for a different take on the wedding bouquet. This works especially well for fall or winter weddings, where the décor will need a bit more substance.
The vintage, rustic, shabby chic wedding has been on-trend for quite some time now. It’s perfectly natural to worry that your own details won’t be as unique as you were hoping for. Don’t fret — while this whole aesthetic is big right now, there’s plenty you can do to ensure your wedding is as unique as you and the person you’re going to marry.
Before you get deep into the details, envision all the things that fit your personal taste. Maybe antique picture frames, chalkboards or a special piece of furniture. Searching websites like Craigslist and Etsy for shabby chic details, both big and small, can be rewarding in unearthing some one-of-a-kind gems. So can places like your local Goodwill or Salvation Army or smaller vintage shops.
Shabby chic is all about personal expression and surprising vintage and do-it-yourself elements. Now’s your chance to let that imagination run wild. Here’s some inspiration to get those creative juices flowing. You’ll be coming up with your own touches in no time!
- The Bigger Pieces — Bringing vintage indoor furniture outside is a cool touch for the shabby chic wedding. Or add a vintage feel to the space with a timeless wood piece. Use it to hold your card box or guest book, or have it function as a dessert table.
- Mix-and-Match Vintage Picture Frames — Home décor junkies, you know your collection of mismatched picture frames is getting out of control anyway. For your shabby chic wedding, incorporate these small but impactful pieces wherever signage is needed. We’re thinking table settings, labels for food and drinks or even just decorations. Fill them with vintage photographs, pictures of you and your intended, or hang empty frames on the wall for a minimalist take on the trend.
- Forget Matching Table Settings — For an easy way to infuse some personality into your place settings, use a variety of different dishes. To get this look, mix and match existing dish sets or buy an assortment of vintage plates and bowls at a thrift shop. The eclectic blend of dishware adds an additional element of texture to the table setting, adding a variety of patterns and textures. If you still want to keep things cohesive, stick to one family of colors and play with texture.
- Woodsy Details — Going for it with wood everything is another take on the shabby chic wedding. The natural materials work nicely with floral touches, dreamy fabrics and romantic lighting. Consider sliced logs as accent pieces or tree branches running along a longer table for a unique centerpiece. Add moss if you want to play up the wooded quality, which looks great when paired with plants as varied as wildflowers, ferns and even succulents.
- Mismatched Vintage Chairs — Similar to the eclectic blend of dishware, ditch the matchy-matchy expectation when it comes to seating. Vintage chairs with distressed paint work great.
The shabby chic wedding is nothing without the tactile touches some well-placed fabrics add to the mix. Mix and match different textures for tablecloths, place settings, centerpieces and more. Here’s a quick guide to finding the fabrics to fit your vintage wedding vision.
- Flour Sack Towels — A fun and inexpensive way to hearken back to the days of the old horse and buggy, these versatile cotton towels work great as a backdrop to a place setting complete with vintage dishware. Stain with tea for an added layer of aged beauty, and hang on hooks near food and drink.
- Keep it Natural — Burlap or canvas can be a surprisingly pretty touch when juxtaposed with flowers, lighting and unique pieces of décor. Use as a way to encase flowers or lighting, adding to the natural element of the wedding.
- Pretty & Classic — Including lace, damask and more, these fabrics work great as a tablecloth or curtain, providing a feminine flare to the wedding, which can be particularly cool if you have a lot of more natural or masculine pieces in the mix, or if you’re really going for a Victorian-era tea party vibe.
- Rich & Decadent — Romantic velvets or thick textured tapestries add the perfect amount of warmth and luxury to an evening wedding. Layer different fabrics atop one another to create a visually engaging play on textures.
- Think Prints — Look, mixing prints is intimidating, even for the best-dressed fashionistas among us, and can make minimalists shudder at the thought. But the shabby chic wedding concept is all about a maximalist, cozy aesthetic, and mixing prints from the table cloth and the curtain to everything in between is the way to go.
Looking for Custom Towels for Your Upcoming Wedding?
Cotton Creations has got you covered. We’ve got a great selection of natural and bleached flour sack towels, perfect for the shabby chic wedding. Buy plain ones in bulk, or have some custom-made to fit the unique theme of your wedding. Consider embroidering the names of the bride and groom on the towels, or select a print that echoes the décor. We’d love to contribute to a day you’ll never forget!