A Century of Weddings: The 1960s
A Century Of Weddings: The 1960s
Welcome to the Swinging Sixties, a decade of revolution that rocked the world. The era was a time of dramatic change, from the rise of space travel to watershed moments for civil rights and women’s rights. The Sixties also took style in a new direction, filled with iconic fashions that still inspire us today. Couples started married life on a relaxed note and jetted off for destination honeymoons, while brides looked to celebrities for style guidance and now-classic wedding songs ruled the airwaves (here’s to “At Last” changing playlists forever). Let’s take a closer look at the wedding trends of the decade!
As the formal weddings of the Fifties faded in popularity, many couples opted for ceremonies at home. While elaborate weddings still occurred, the 1960s embraced a counterculture that rejected tradition in favor of “doing your own thing.” A relaxed atmosphere appealed to younger couples, so casual (and affordable!) backyard weddings became more commonplace. (Wondering how to plan your own backyard wedding? We’ve created a guide for you!)
In the “Golden Age of Travel,” couples began to choose exotic destinations for their honeymoons. The rise of commercial airlines and relaxed security (you didn’t even need an ID to fly!) allowed easy planning for international vacations to France, Italy, or Spain.
The Modern Maven:
Moving on from the poufy gowns and tea-length designs of the Fifties, brides selected shorter dresses without trains. The miniskirt trend made its way to wedding gowns (note Audrey Hepburn’s 1969 wedding day mini!), usually paired with tights. If a bride desired a classic look that still felt modern, column gowns fit the bill—the skimming silhouette flattered and left room for embellishments. Metallic details and structured, oversize elements like funnel necks and flare sleeves were also trending.
Fresh as a Daisy:
An everlasting icon of the 60s, daisies made an appearance nearly everywhere! From embroidery to bouquets, brides often accessorized their wedding day looks with these cheerful blooms. As cascading trains and long veils fell out of style, brides reached for hats instead. Pillbox hats rose in popularity thanks to the inimitable Jackie O. and were often topped with birdcage veils. Short, shoulder-length veils that tucked into big 60s hair were another favorite!
Hair & Makeup
The Bigger, the Better:
As clothes got boxier, hair got bigger! Beehive styles exploded onto the scene, varying from a structured coif to a messy bouffant. The Ronettes exemplified this iconic and immaculate look while Brigitte Bardot sported a wispy, bedhead version. On the flip side, shorter styles were also en vogue—Nancy Kwan wore a sharp bob and Twiggy’s cropped cut inspired many copycats.
Twiggy Made Me Do It:
Speaking of Twiggy, her expertly applied “London Look” became synonymous with 1960s makeup. Long lashes, graphic eyeliner, and glossy lips were the epitome of glamour.
All You Need Is Love:
The Sixties were an unforgettable decade of music, as artists like Etta James and The Beatles released tracks that would change wedding playlists forever! In 1969, people flocked to Woodstock for three days of iconic performances that included Janis Joplin, the Who, and Jimi Hendrix among many others.
The mod style of the era is reflected in movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and How to Steal A Million (1966) as Audrey Hepburn dons structured, boxy ensembles and a plethora of headpieces. Craving groovier vibes? The bumbling antics of Austin Powers (1997) take place in 60s London and reflect the era’s over-the-top aesthetic! Capturing the decade’s sweeping social change, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967) stars Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton as an interracial couple facing racism toward their relationship. The film is notable as one of the first to positively depict interracial marriage, which was still illegal in some U.S. states just a few months before its release.
Dolly Parton & Carl Dean:
The legendary and multi-talented country singer married her longtime love in 1966 wearing a sleeveless, knee-length dress. The tiny, intimate ceremony was fitting for the notoriously private couple, who renewed their vows for their 50th anniversary. (We’re guessing “Jolene” did not warrant an invite.)
Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton:
In one of Hollywood’s most tumultuous relationships, the two film stars married for the first time in 1964. After meeting on the set of Cleopatra (1963), their scandalous affair became official at their Montreal wedding. The bride wore a soft, yellow dress with a dramatic floral updo to marry “one of the great loves of [her] life.”
May Britt & Sammy Davis Jr.:
The enigmatic Rat Pack member married the Swedish actress in a 1960 ceremony that stunned the country—at the time, interracial marriage was illegal in 31 states. Though the pair split in 1968, they stayed together long enough to see the Supreme Court’s 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, which made interracial marriage legal across the U.S.
And that's been the 1960s!
Onto the next decade: The 1970s.