A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding

A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding in Rhode Island

Under the trees (Lev Kuperman)

Two years ago today, I married my favorite runner. Happy Anniversary, Phil!

I’ve previously shared how Phil and I met while training for the New York City Marathon, and how he proposed at the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. To celebrate our second anniversary, I thought I’d share some photos from our 1930s and 1940s Hollywood themed vintage wedding.

A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding in Rhode Island

The Bay (Lev Kuperman)

We got married in Bristol, Rhode Island at the Herreshoff Marine Museum Pier. Rhode Island is our favorite summer destination and we wanted to share it with our families and friends. We looked at venues in Newport and Bristol, but when we saw the museum’s west-facing pier, we knew that was the spot to host our vintage wedding with a killer sunset.

A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding in Rhode Island

Inspired by Fred and Ginger (Lev Kuperman)

For our wedding portraits, we headed to the bucolic Colt State Park just five minutes away.

Finding inspiration was easy. Since I was a little girl, I’ve been enamored with the classic movie musicals of the 1930s and 1940s. Among my favorites from the era are Swing Time starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, For Me and My Gal starring Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, Anchors Aweigh starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson, and anything starring Esther Williams.

A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding

Ginger Rogers

Thankfully, Phil shares a similar aesthetic with a love for Art Deco architecture and design.

Ginger Rogers was the model for my own look—finger waves and curls paired with a 1930s inspired silk gown by Jenny Packham. In everything I chose, I asked myself: “What would Ginger do?”

With Old Hollywood as our guide, Phil and I planned and executed everything ourselves. We spent weekends scouring flea markets for antique glass bottles to house floral arrangements, vintage brooches and tie clips as the guests’ favors, handmade crocheted doilies to line the tables, and other odds and ends to set the mood.

A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding in Rhode Island

Women’s escort cards with vintage brooches (Lev Kuperman)

Instead of escort cards, we soaked tags in tea to give them an aged look, and tied each one to a vintage tie clip for the men and brooch for the ladies. We hung them all from antique shutters we found at a second hand store. We hand-picked which pin or clip each guest received, trying our best to match the jewelry to their personality and taste. The tag bore the guest’s name and table.

Our tables were marked by years, from 1925 to 1945. For the table marker, we carefully chose and printed photos from those years that represented something special to us. Then we affixed them to books.

A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding in Rhode Island

1936: Jesse Owens dazzles at the Olympics (Lev Kuperman)

Both avid readers, Phil and I stalked the book drop in our building’s basement to amass a collection of vintage titles.

As runners, we chose 1936 as the year Jesse Owens dazzled at the Olympics. Since we got engaged at Disney, we chose 1928 as the year Mickey Mouse was born, and so on. We picked events from movies, music, art, architecture, literature, sports, world events and more. It was really fun to put it all together. Some of my favorites include the birth of Wonder Woman in 1941, Gene Kelly’s movie debut in 1942, the first chocolate chip cookie recipe in 1938, the debut of The Wizard of Oz in 1939 and Coco Chanel’s first “Little Black Dress” in 1926. Phil chose nods to Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, the Chrysler Building, polo, and sailing. Our table? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, naturally.

Dinner was a traditional New England Clambake on the beach, including clams, mussels, lobster, cod, sausage, corn, stuffing, onions, brown bread and more.

A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding in Rhode Island

Cake (Lev Kuperman)

Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we opted for a cake buffet with six different flavors including chocolate, lemon, golden layer, carrot, cheesecake and turtle cheesecake from a Rhode Island institution called Gregg’s that’s famous for their cakes.

During dinner, we played swing and jazz from the 1930s and 1940s off my iPod. But after dinner, my band, The Fades, played as a wedding gift to Phil and me. I got up to sing a few songs here and there, but our male lead singer did most of the heavy lifting. No, an ’80s cover band isn’t on theme, but it was crazy fun.

A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding in Rhode Island

Us (Lev Kuperman)

The music we played before the ceremony encapsulated the theme for our wedding perfectly, though: “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” by Fred Astaire, “Don’t Falter At The Alter” by Cab Calloway, and others culminating in “For Me and My Gal” by Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.

The bells are ringing for me and my gal.
The birds are singing for me and my gal.

Everybody’s been knowing to a wedding they’re going,
and for weeks they’ve been sewing, every Susie and Sal.

They’re congregating for me and my gal.
The parson’s waiting for me and my gal.

And sometime we’re goin’ to build a little home for two, for three or four or more…
In love land for me and my gal.

With that, Phil and I walked down the aisle.
A 1930s & 1940s Hollywood Inspired Vintage Wedding in Rhode Island

We do! (Lev Kuperman)

Happy Anniversary, Phil! It’s been two amazing years. Here’s to many more!

Our Old Hollywood Vintage Wedding
All photography is by the wonderful Lev Kuperman.

Our Wedding Vendors:
Venue: Herreshoff Marine Museum
Photographer: Lev Kuperman
Caterer: Compton Clambakes
Flowers: Greenlion Design
Dress: Jenny Packham
Tux: SuitSupply
Band: The Fades
Cakes: Gregg’s

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


08 2014

42 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Oh Karla, this is just gorgeous and so perfectly YOU! I love every bit of it, the details are amazing and I love that you two did it all yourself. ( And I especially love that Cinderella was there with you guys : )

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Danielle! It was important to us that it reflected who we are and that Cinderella (the dog) was a part of it too. If you look at the Cinderella (the princess) and Prince Charming cake topper pic, you can see that we even added a little ceramic dog to it! Yes, we totally fell down the rabbit hole.

  2. 3

    Everything looks spectacular and I love the theme. Happy anniversary :)
    Lesley recently posted..Random Sunday Musings 8/3My Profile

  3. 5

    Happy Anniversary!!! Your wedding looks like it was so perfect. The photos are stunning!

  4. 7

    How beautiful! Plan my wedding, please!!!

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! I’ll plan your wedding for 1 meeelion dollars (holds pinkie to corner of mouth). Austin Powers jokes aside, I totally get why people hire planners after doing our wedding myself. It’s SO much work!

  5. Jane pope cooper #

    So glad to get a recap of all of the beautiful details! We hated to miss.
    Happy anniversary!

    Xo jpc

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Jane! We were sad to miss you too, but I still remember your reply card. Best drawings ever!

  6. 11

    Stunning! Gorgeous! I love all of the vintage details!

    Happy anniversary !!

  7. 13

    Looks like y’all had a great time! Love the theme! One question – were you singing karaoke in the one pic? Brilliant idea!
    Scott Evans recently posted..Runin, Partyin, Yogain, & Rule BreakinMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Better than karaoke…I’m in an 80s cover band! The band played the reception, so that was me rocking out :) I didn’t perform on every song so that I could dance and have fun too. So our male lead singer did most of the work.

  8. 15

    So beautiful! We did an Art Deco themed wedding at WDW and I wore a Jenny Packham gown, too. Her gowns are gorgeous!

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you! I just looked up your wedding photos on your blog. Gorgeous! Love all the beading on your dress. I always know a Jenny Packham dress when I see one.

  9. 17

    Happy Anniversary!! I am absolutely in love with your wedding day! Everything was stunning and so special!
    Kaella (On The Run) recently posted..Almost On Vacation & Weekend in ReviewMy Profile

  10. 19

    Thanks for sharing Karla. Fantastic photos! The table marker idea was clever. And the sunset was spectacular!
    Ewen recently posted..Running on a NordicTrack T20.5 treadmillMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Ewen! The sunset was what sealed the deal on that spot. We looked at a waterfront venue that faced East…just not the same.

  11. 21

    your wedding looked divine Dahling! Happy Anniversary! X
    Megan recently posted..3 Weeks No Cheats {Link Up}My Profile

  12. 23

    Absolutely gorgeous, stunning, beautiful and all other appropriate synonyms! LOVE IT! Happy anniversary to you two! :)
    Kellie recently posted..Weeks in Training (and I COOKED! Woohoo!) 7/21-7/27 & 7/28-8/3My Profile

  13. 25

    Dang, the vision you (and other brides I’ve known) have is just incredible. Congrats on the anniversary and on pulling off what was obviously an amazing event :)
    Sadye recently posted..RetirementMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Sadye! I kept telling myself I wouldn’t fall down the rabbit hole…and then I totally did. It was fun to plan.

  14. 27

    What fun? And the mutt got to be there too!!!

    • Karla Bruning

      We debated having her walk with us down the aisle, but thought she’d get too distracted with all the hub bub. But we still wanted her to be a part of it!

  15. 29

    Happy anniversary! Your wedding day looks beautiful but of course the true beauty lies in the fact you have a happy, loving marriage. Cherish it! My husband and I will be celebrating 15 years next month and I feel so lucky and blessed to be part of a great partnership. Wishing you many more happy years :)
    Kristi@Blog for an Average Runner recently posted..A Great LossMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you, Kristi! That’s exactly how I feel. Early happy anniversary to you and your husband! It’s an inspiration for a no-longer-newlywed like me.

  16. 31

    Absolutely gorgeous! Happy anniversary! xo

  17. 33

    Happy Anniversary!! And what a stunning wedding – I love all the details, especially that both Cinderellas were there. And your dress is gorgeous. I love the 1930’s & 40’s Old Hollywood theme – I grew up watching Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Fred & Ginger movies with my grandma.
    Emily recently posted..2014 Zooma ChicagoMy Profile

  18. 35

    I have never seen a more creative wedding than yours! It’s absolutely lovely. I have never been to the part of Rhode Island where you had your wedding but I have been to the Newport Mansions and that definitely gives off an old Hollywood vibe!
    Meranda@fairytalesandfitness recently posted..How to get those Sold Out Items at Race ExposMy Profile

  19. 37

    Karla, these are just beautiful and what a gorgeous bride you were. Not that you looked much different when we met. Add some color but the inspirations are still the same I think? : )

    On a different note, thank you for your message. I realize I’ve kind of dropped of the (social media) earth.

  20. Karla Bruning

    Thank you, Diann! And we all need a social media break now and then, especially in times of sadness. Hope you’re doing OK!
    Karla Bruning recently posted..Gait Analysis For The Nike Women’s Half Marathon SFMy Profile

  21. 39

    Wow, what a phenomenal idea for a wedding theme, and you pulled it off beautifully. It looks like it was a really special evening for both you and your husband as well as your lucky guests.
    Judith recently posted..Exercise Addiction, Alcohol and Other Substitutes for FeelingsMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Judith! It’s funny. I was never the little girl who dreamed about her wedding. Just wasn’t on my radar. My best friend (who officiated) made a joke during the ceremony: “It’s the wedding you never dreamed of!” It certainly was. Sometimes reality is better than imagination.

  22. 41

    These photos are ABSOLUTELY. STUNNING. I LOOOOVE this — what an awesome idea! I know I’m a little late to the party, but hope you had a wonderful anniversary! :)


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