Today is our wedding anniversary. Seven years ago today, Peter and I got married on a beach (well, the reserve next to the beat) at Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot in Australia. Yes, the location was fortuitous. We had a red and navy vintage travel themed wedding and I DIY’d most of the decorations.
Where to hold the ceremony
After Peter proposed on a bridge overlooking St Peter’s Cathedral and the Vatican and we had some time to revel in our new engaged status, we set about making wedding arrangements.
The first major question that we had to answer was where to get married. In which country? We considered four countries:
- Belgium: I was still living in Brussels when we got married but was not planning to still be there when we tied the knot. It was quickly discarded as an option.
- Germany: If we went with this option, we would have to see how my family could make it to Europe for the wedding. My family is much larger than Peter’s.
- Denmark: Peter and I both love Copenhagen and considered getting married in Denmark’s capital because the paperwork was much simpler than it was in Germany. It would also allow us to get married much at short notice, which nearly became a necessity. We still would have had a second celebration afterwards.
- Australia: Traditionally, you get married where the bride is from, which in our case was Australia. However, it was the fact that the paperwork was much simpler (both to get married and to get our marriage recognised). We also had more opportunities to do what we want.
Once we decided on which country, the rest of the where fell into place quickly.
In Germany, there are only limited places that you can get married. You can get married in a town hall or at certain places that have been sanctioned by the city. This will often be a castle, zoo, or other significant location in the town. The ceremony will always be performed by an officiant from the state.
In Australia, you can basically choose where you want to get married and find an authorised marriage celebrant to officiate.
We chose to get married at a beach – one that we visited regularly as kids and that Peter had also been to more than once. We reserved the restaurant right next to the beach for our reception, put in the necessary forms with the city to ‘rent’ the reserve for the ceremony, emailed our celebrant and booked our plane tickets.
I didn’t want a theme
Once we had the basics worked out, I started considering some of the bigger details as far as what I wanted the wedding to look like.
I didn’t want a theme. I didn’t want anything kitschy. Ours was a destination wedding – at least for us and some of our guests – but I didn’t want the typical destination wedding themes.
Still, I wanted the wedding to be personal and reflect our relationship. Things to hang together and not just use lots of flowers (would get expensive quickly) or just have the same colours. And what colours did I want anyway?
I turned to Peter for his input and got the standard male response: “Whatever you want is fine by me.”
I didn’t know what I wanted until I did
When our relationship was still long-distance, one song, or one line from that song, had given us comfort: the first line from Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”
So close, no matter how farJames Hetfield
At that stage, we had seen Metallica play in six different countries together (I think it is another three countries now). We had the words engraved on our ipods, for example. It is now spelt out in wire on our bedroom wall.
To me, this was the perfect ‘theme’ for our quasi-destination wedding. It was clear that a number of people, including most of Peter’s family and some of our good friends, would not be able to make the trip. We had also lost two important family members in the year before our wedding: Peter’s father and my grandfather. This theme said that those people were still with us on our big day, even if they were not physically there.
It was also quickly clear what our first dance song would be.
It turned out that Metallica would be playing one of their rare Adelaide concerts on our wedding night. Unfortunately, we missed the concert, but Peter have his buck’s night at the concert in Sydney the week before the wedding.
With this inspiration, a travel theme just seemed right. Though to be more about us, it would have to be a slightly quirky, vintage travel themed wedding, and I would have a lot of things to DIY.
Then to my groom onboard
I ambushed Peter with my idea while shopping with a friend.
We were shopping at one of my favourite shops for organisational gear (Japanese brand Muji) in their post-Christmas sales when I found some wooden Christmas ornaments. Each box contained 5 different plane ornaments. I knew immediately that they would make perfect wedding favours. Now just to let Peter know my idea.
I had not yet told him anything. Quickly, I described my vision with at least enough clarity that he understood the relevance of the ornaments. Of course, I know my husband. Using a song from his favourite band to tie it all together meant he was hooked on the idea even without the full idea.
We left the store with all of the ornaments that they had left.
Then to develop our idea
We had a theme, but how were we going to use it without being too kitschy?
With a destination wedding, a vintage travel themed wedding, or indeed any travel themed wedding could get kitschy very quickly.
I started by pinning everything I could find that might be relevant and then weeding out images that were not as good at second glance.
I tried to keep in mind that I wanted a vintage travel themed wedding and tried to pin vintage ideas accordingly. I had lots of suitcases, airmails and telegrams and passports.
When I could see these ideas in front of me, I had a clearer vision and a clear decision on what colours to use: it would be a red and navy wedding, taking inspiration from airmail envelopes.
Peter was immediately on board with a red and navy wedding: by chance, red and blue are the colours of his favourite football team. I know, you think I did that on purpose.
Mum and I started gathering more ideas and anything we thought might be useful. Mum found some old suitcases and blue china, I found airmail envelopes and balloons to match our red and navy wedding colour scheme and we were off!
Why DIY your wedding?
While there were quite a few travel-themed wedding invitations, none of them suited our vintage theme. And none of them seemed to suit our red and navy wedding colour scheme. Who knew the colour scheme would not be very popular?
In order to have invitations that reflected the look that I wanted, I was going to have to make them myself. The same is true for many of the DIY projects that I tackled.
Done right, DIY can also save money and personalise your decor. I had time at that stage, so it made sense for me to spend some of that time being creative.
DIYing a lot of the decor and invitations also meant that I could control some of what was happening from Germany. I also didn’t have to leave everything to Mum and Dad and others to organise in Australia.
It also gave me a creative outlet for a while.
I was going to have a lot to DIY
I had a vision now and knew how to put it together.
A red and navy wedding would be easy. Navy bridesmaid dress. Red shoes. Red ties and navy suits for Peter and his Best Man. Navy shorts, red and navy suspenders and sneakers for the page boys. Princess dresses with navy sashes and red shoes for the flower girls.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #1: Vintage suitcases
All of the vintage suitcases we’d found came in useful for the ceremony. In truth, we hired some for the day. I had been more successful in the suitcase hunt than Mum, but we didn’t want to send them all to Australia. They are now stacked together in our lounge room and contain Blurays and cables.
We attached helium balloons to the handles of the suitcases and used these to mark our ‘aisle’. The balloons danced prettily in the wind, but in some photos, it looks like we have halos.
We used vintage theatre seats for seating for the elderly and an old school desk that I found to sign our marriage certificate and other paperwork. Dad lovingly restored it for us. We had an old navy blue steamer trunk that we used to transport goodies and as a ‘buffet’ for afternoon tea and an old classroom blackboard easel as a sign for the wedding.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any chalk to fit our red and navy wedding colour scheme. That is probably a good thing – I did not want to be Bridezilla.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #2: Vintage arrival vehicle
We arrived in one of my Dad’s old cars. I made the three-tone ribbon in our red and navy wedding colours.
After the ceremony and before the reception our guests could build sandcastles, play on the playground and even go swimming. And they did.
We played cricket, too.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #3: Photo locations
In keeping with our theme, we had photos taken at the local train station – the first to be built in the State…
and with the anchors of boats that wrecked in the bay.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #4: Photo props
We also used vintage travel props for our photos: suitcases and an old silk parachute.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding invitations
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #5: Telegram save the date cards
As many of our potential guests would be coming from overseas, we needed to send out save the date cards quite early. I decided to make telegrams.
This was the days before photoshop or free online editing tools like Canva. I made them using Microsoft Word. Seriously.
While I was making them, I came up with a simple heart-target ‘logo’, which then turned up on all of our wedding stuff. It was sort of based on vintage airforce logos. It was simple and perfect for our red and navy wedding.
The telegrams were in English on one side and German on the other so that the same telegram could go out to all potential guests.
Apart from having them printed, I put them together all myself.
We used navy blue envelopes which I lined with red and blue striped paper to look like airmail paper. We had our ‘logo’ on the front (top right) and wrap-around labels.
A tip: Be conscious of your envelope sizing. I used half-A4 sized telegrams so that I could have two printed per page. Unfortunately, the appropriately-sized envelopes cost three times as much to send internationally as a standard envelope. Postage got much more expensive much quicker.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #6: Ticket invitations
For this one, I decided to go with vintage plane tickets. Many airlines are traditionally red or blue, which suited our vintage travel theme and our red and navy wedding colour scheme.
I had a little help for this one. One of our neighbour’s sons was moving out of home around the same time that I was moving from Brussels to Dusseldorf. He had first dibs on anything that we had in double for his new apartment. Fortunately, he was just finishing his studies in marketing and visual design. I drew up the basis for the invites and he formatted them using software that he had access to. It was just too much for Microsoft Word!
All of the information about the wedding is in a flyer that is designed to look like the cover of your ticket. The invitation is the ticket itself, while the bag tag (which had red and navy string attached) was the RSVP card.
We sent it all out in navy or red envelopes – standard sizing this time – again with wrap-around labels and an easy way to indicate the colour scheme for our red and navy wedding.
Vintage travel themed wedding DIY ceremony idea
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #7: Paper planes
I spent ages hand-sewing red and navy bunting for our red and navy wedding. It had our names spelt out in navy on a cream background and one of our ‘logos’ at each end. Unfortunately, on the day, my helpers couldn’t find somewhere to hang it. It never got used and is still in the steamer trunk.
I didn’t want people throwing rice after our ceremony (too many seagulls), nor did I want balloons going in the ocean. I considered making map confetti but felt bad about destroying the map.
As some of you might have read, I made paper aeroplanes. It took a while to work out which side which parts of the design had to go on, but they folded easily once I did. Both kids and adults enjoyed throwing them, too.
We also had little bottles of bubble mix that I fixed with our logo.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #8: Passport ceremony program
Our ceremony ‘program’ was a passport.
It included the names of our party, those who did the readings for us (and what those readings were) and or celebrant. It also listed the music that we used in the ceremony.
Peter and I had decided that all of the music played on our wedding day – whether for the ceremony, afternoon or the reception – had to be by bands and artists that we had seen live. After about seven years of four-day music festivals in Belgium, we had quite a list!
The only exception was the Beach Boys. We had tickets to one of their shows in Germany but I could not go because I was in Australia for my grandfather’s funeral. Peter went without me and we ‘grandfathered in’ the Beach Boys.
One of our wonderful guests had our wedding invitation, save the date telegrams, passport program and a zeppelin wedding favour framed for us. A wonderful gift and reminder of our red and navy wedding.
DIY flowers for our red and navy wedding
I spent ages making fabric pinwheel flowers for our red and navy wedding.
I used them everywhere. Or at least it seemed like it.
- I stitched the flowers to cream headbands for my flower girls.
- My bridesmaid had a ‘corsage’ on her shrug for later in the evening (it gets cold on the beach)
- My page boys had pinwheel flower boutonnieres, as did my brothers and Dad.
- We had little pinwheel flowers in milk bottles as decoration for the ceremony. They were meant to be ‘hung’ from the chairs with ribbon, but my helpers couldn’t work out how to do it. They were standing prettily on some of the suitcases instead.
- Later those same flowers became decor for our reception.
- The flowers were also used as my toss ‘bouquet’.
Our page boys and flower girls
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #9: Suitcases for page boys and flower girls
Apart from looking so cute, they had a part to play in upholding our vintage travel theme: each of them carried a suitcase.
I made the suitcases myself using decoupage suitcases of different sizes. I simply painted them a nice medium brown. I’d found a whole lot of free vintage travel posters online and shrunk them and printed them on adhesive paper. It was then just a case of cutting them out, peeling off the back and sticking them to the suitcases.
I chose not to seal the suitcases with Modge Podge or something similar as I wanted the stickers to appear a little raw and aged.
My eldest nephew had our rings on a little pillow inside his suitcase that I had embroidered with our songline. In our red and navy wedding colour scheme, of course. Unfortunately, they became detached from the pillow – it’s that old balancing act between tying them tight enough that they don’t fall off, but not so tight that the Best Man can’t get them off during the ceremony.
When our Best Man opened the suitcase to take the rings, there was a moment of panic. Thoughts immediately went to where he had been playing on the grass and in the sand… Fortunately, they had just slipped under the pillow and were still safe.
My niece had a different suitcase, too. She had a hole cut in the side of her suitcase with flowers in it to match mine.
Afternoon tea for a vintage travel themed wedding
I thought briefly about having little in-flight packets of peanuts and pretzels.
Instead, we had cupcakes (made by a friend), doughnuts from the local bakery and a candy bar with red, white and blue candy for our red and navy wedding colour scheme. The kids were in heaven! (Especially the kids who were not wedding guests, but who had been eyeing off the candy since it appeared.)
Mum and I had made mini trifles in Weck jars and pavlova with fresh berries the night before for afternoon tea. Somehow, these were left in the refrigerator, forgotten.
In keeping with our colour scheme, we had ivory paper plates (purchased at a dollar store) and navy and red serviettes from IKEA. Cheap and perfect for a red and navy wedding!
We also had some travel themed vintage paraphernalia to decorate the table/top of the steamer box, but much of that was forgotten: An couple of old books with blue covers (Gulliver’s Travels), an old camera and a wind-up toy globe.
DIYs for our vintage travel themed wedding reception
We had a relatively small reception (there is a limit to how many people the restaurant can hold), but we still wanted some travel themed decorations.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #10: Seating chart
Our seating chart was a little informal. I had found someone on etsy selling bulk bag tags from various (real) airlines. Each person had a bag tag with their name and a destination written on it.
The destinations indicated where they were sitting. We had six groups of six to eight people, which made six destinations. Each was somewhere that Peter and I had been.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #11: Table decorations
For each destination, I had made a sign using the IKEA Tolsby frames, which are no longer available. On one side was a vintage travel poster for the location (shrunk to size). On the other side were some interesting facts (normally three) about the city and one about Peter and my trip to that city.
These were placed on each table with one of the milk bottles with the pinwheel flowers and an unusual travel-related object, such as a camera, a compass, some mini binoculars or a statue of the Eifel Tower.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #12: Favours
Each guest found one of the wooden Christmas ornament favours that started it all at their place. I had made little thank you banners for each plane to pull, while the zeppelins had thank-you signs on their sides.
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #13: Ice breakers
As ice breakers, I had also made three different questionnaires for guests to complete. They included travel-related questions, such as the fill in the blank statement “I got here today by (boat, car, train, plane, zeppelin, rocket, submarine)” or “Rachael & Peter should go to …. on their honeymoon”. Our MC (my brother) read some of the answers out during the night.
I placed these in an email envelope, together with a menu, a song request card and a little thank you card. The names on the envelopes were the place cards.
Another great ice breaker was our hat collection. We gathered a great collection of hats together at thrift shops and some of our trips and had our guests photographed in them. These included a top had, a fez, a turban with plastic fruit, a safari helmet, a Viking helmet and a fool’s hat from Venice. They made for the best photos!
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #14: Guest book
Our guest book was a simple leather-bound travel journal. I even found one with maps on the endsheets. Red and navy airmail stripes for our red and navy wedding colours would have been great, too.
Although it felt a little uncouth, we asked for money instead of other gifts. Anything we were gifted had to go back with us in our suitcases. We had also only just amalgamated our two households and still had doubles of appliances and more things than we knew where to them. We really did not need more things.
Our ‘gift table’ was a small suitcase.
While you may find it strange – there are a number of travel themed wedding cakes out there – we decided to not do a travel themed cake. I don’t like royal icing or marzipan, which most of them need. We did do the red and navy wedding theme, though. Navy ribbon and white chocolate frosting on a red velvet cake. And it had polka dots to match my dress.
Thank you for coming to our vintage travel themed wedding
DIY vintage travel themed wedding idea #15: Thank you cards
What else could we have to say thank you than vintage postcards!
15 Simple vintage travel themed DIYs for your wedding
In case you couldn’t keep count with all the DIYs above, they are again:
15 DIY vintage travel theme ideas for your wedding
So simple to turn a wedding into a vintage travel themed wedding
Interestingly, it seems that a red and navy wedding is still not very common. For me, it was the perfect colour scheme for a wedding, especially when it was a vintage travel themed wedding. In fact, it was the most logical colour scheme when I looked at my inspiration.
It doesn’t take much to turn a wedding into a vintage travel themed wedding. These 15 DIYs have a huge impact! And I think they add some fun and personal touches.
To think, it all started with a song…
Do you want more information about some of these DIYs? Send me a message and let me know!