'40s-style wedding themes

Written by tamara davidson
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'40s-style wedding themes
Plan a '40s-style wedding. (wedding image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

A 1940s-style theme will add a sophisticated and elegant feel to any wedding. An old Hollywood theme will imbue the night with glamour and excitement, while a World War II-themed wedding is perfect for vintage-loving brides and grooms. Dance the night away with music from the Big Band and swing eras, or add some danger with a 1940s gangster-themed wedding.

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Hollywood Glamour

The 1940s were years filled with glamorous movie stars, Hollywood movies and parties. A 1940s Hollywood-themed wedding will involve glamorous gowns, champagne and life-size, stand-up cut-outs of famous actors like Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis. Decorate the walls with posters of well-known movies such as "Casablanca" and films from the film noir category. Play 1940s-style music; for inspiration, use soundtracks from favourite films of the time. Use large film reels as wedding table centrepieces, and place black and white flowers or tea light candles inside.

World War II

Weddings in the 1940s were often simple and quick ceremonies performed before the newly married groom was shipped off to war. According to the Wedding Channel, "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." Men wore single-breasted suits, and women wore slim-fitting satin dresses and seamed stockings. A hat with a small netted face veil attached and white gloves finished the look of a 1940s bride. A World War II theme wouldn't be complete without military uniforms, biplanes and aviation memorabilia. The Food Timeline states "The 1940s were all about rationing, protein stretching, substitutions, rediscovering 'Grandma's foods,' and making do with less." Provide authentic '40s-style food with meatless meals, eggless cakes and sugarless cookies.

'40s-style wedding themes
The forties era brought with it World War II, pin-up girls and swing dancing. (date of the end of world war ii image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com)

Big Band Era

Swing the night away or jump and jive with the 1940s Big Band era. Have a dance instructor present during the reception to give dance lessons to wedding guests. Invite wedding guests to dress the part with pinstriped suits and elegant satin dresses paired with short white gloves. Hire a swing band or DJ who is familiar with music from the Big Band era. The forties were a heyday for popular musicians, such as Frank Sinatra and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. A wedding party favour for a '40s-themed wedding might include a Big Band music CD or personalised matchboxes.

'40s-style wedding themes
Big bands and swing were popular during the forties. (retro radio image by Elke Dennis from Fotolia.com)


The dark and cynical overtones of film noir brought attention to the 1940s gangsters. A 1940s gangster wedding theme would require male attendees to wear a double-breasted pinstriped suits, fedoras, suspenders, handkerchiefs and large fake guns, and women to wear tight, slinky dresses and heels. As a centrepiece, a black fedora hat makes quite a splash. Add black and white flowers to its rim. Alternatively, put a black and white photo of the wedding couple inside a small antique-looking frame or place the photo on the rim of a fedora hat.

'40s-style wedding themes
Bring out the pin striped suits and Fedora hats for a gangster look. (Anachronistic Gangster image by Scott Griessel from Fotolia.com)

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