The 1950s are synonymous with the breakthrough of rock ‘n’ roll to popular mainstream. A style of music that became the soundtrack to the youthful explosion of energy that occurred in the same decade, the 1950s played host to music that changed the world.
Rock ‘n’ roll undoubtedly transformed the face of popular music whilst expressing the exuberance and vibrancy of the younger generation. This generation also created and developed a significant cultural style, one that can easily be moulded into a fantastic wedding theme!
Not only is the music iconic, but so was the style! Fashion trends can be revisited, think of Teddy Boys with slicked-back hair, velvet-lapelled suits, winkle picker shoes or brothel-creepers, and drainpipe trousers for the guys. For the gals, loud colourful dresses with nipped-in waists and fluffed-out skirts combined with bobby socks and high stiletto heels.
This is such a fun decade with numerous style and music icons to turn to. Rock ‘n’ roll infiltrated music, films, magazines, fashion, attitudes and language.
Think Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, the list goes on… So, if you’re dreaming of a 1950s’ inspired wedding you’ll find an abundance of ideas and tips below.
1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll Music
Firstly, the theme really comes into its own when you start thinking about the music! The 1950s served up a huge range of fantastic musical options that still retain the ability to fill a dance floor.
When you think of the hit artists of the period you can’t fail to get excited. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley… it’s a Hall of Fame for the origins of pop music as we know it today!
Having originated and evolved in the United States, rock ‘n’ roll came from numerous musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues and not forgetting country music. However one thing’s certain, all 50s’ rockers were ultimately influenced by R&B and the black popular music of the late 40s and early 50s.
Like nothing that had come before it, rock ‘n’ roll spoke to the teens, for the population stuck between childhood and adulthood. Also, it enabled marginalised Americans to feel as though anything was possible. After all, Elvis Presley had transformed from hick truck driver to idol of millions within a year!
The genre pushed the social boundaries, spoke about taboo topics and awakened the youth. If that’s not reason enough to have a 1950s rock ‘n’ roll wedding, we don’t know what is!
Your 1950s Wedding Music
One option for your 1950s’ rock ‘n’ roll wedding is to hire a vintage-style jukebox filled with the best hits from the decade.
You can pre-programme the machine to play a certain selection of your favourites or – even better – let your guests take control of the music and choose their preferred songs. This is perfect during the drinks reception or even throughout the wedding breakfast, and is a great way to get your guests in the mood.
For the evening entertainment, there really is nothing that can beat the sound of a live band blaring out classics such as ‘Johnny B. Goode’, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Rock Around The Clock’.
There are a number of brilliant covers bands out there who specialise in performing the iconic rock ‘n’ roll repertoire from the 1950s. Going above and beyond, the musicians will be dressed in period clothing and can play the hit tunes of a number of the most famous artists – and even throw in some requests!
Alternatively, if you’re a real fan you could arrange for a tribute act. To get an authentic taste of 50s style, why not hire an Elvis impersonator to bring a tongue-in-cheek replica of ‘The King’ to your big day? You can expect costume-changes, dance-moves and a faithful representation of that unmistakeable voice as a Tribute Act takes you as close to the real thing as possible.
The other classic 1950s’ option is to book a classic Honky-Tonk pianist to hammer away on the ivories in a frenetic fashion that can’t help but get your guests jiving the night away. A style that was successfully revived in recent years by Jules Holland, it originated in the 1950s and will certainly add a vintage touch to your big day.
Authentic 1950s’ style
Thanks to Christian Dior, 1950s fashion was the exact opposite of the 40s. Fabric was voluminous and luxurious. The iconic hourglass Monroe figure saw waists accentuated – women had to squeeze into tightly fitted bodices once again.
Although billowing calf-length skirts dominated, there were dresses that were so tight and slim fitted women found it a struggle to walk!
Some were outraged at these fashion trends as they thought it was a step back. Women had fought against the restrictive feminine ideals before the war and movements towards equality were happening.
However, the glamorous clothing channelled femininity and the restrictive attire they had been attempting to move away from. Despite this, eventually most women came round to the idea after the hardships of war.
If you want your wedding party to embrace the rock ‘n’ roll style, you could have fun with their outfits! Men who embraced the rock ‘n’ roll scene wore tight blue jeans, white t-shirts and black leather jackets.
Hair was slicked back with Vaseline and the shoes were – of course – blue suede. Get the groomsmen to channel this rebellious look for a true 1950s rock ‘n’ roll wedding.
Your Wedding Dress
Lets talk about ‘The Dress’! Your all-important wedding attire has to channel the 1950s for a true 1950s rock ‘n’ roll wedding.
You could opt for a fun tea-length dress that nips in at the waist and falls mid-calf. Layers of tulle for the skirt will really give it that feminine A-line look that was so popular in the 1950s. Beyond that you could go the extra mile and wear a boned corset – as so many women did to accentuate the hourglass shape.
Although ensure you’re totally comfortable. The last thing you want is to not be able to breathe as you walk down the aisle or not be able to enjoy your wedding breakfast!
A sweetheart neckline was extremely popular and channels femininity, however any neckline works beautifully with a tea-length dress. An off the shoulder number is playful and a popular choice for a wedding day.
Be daring and experiment with colour! Pastel hues are beautiful for a summer wedding. Alternatively you could embrace rock ‘n’ roll and opt for a firey red or even a bold black dress. Embellishments such as lace look beautiful as do sashes around the waist to really draw it in. Polka dots are also incredibly fun and would add a touch of 1950s glam to any wedding dress.
1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll Wedding Extras
Add a touch more sweetness to your wedding day with a milkshake or sweetie bar. We’re sure the children and adults alike will thank you. You could even have Knickerbocker glory’s or jelly and ice cream as the desert for your wedding breakfast.
Arrive to your wedding in style with in an authentic 50s vehicle. Depending on your preference you could opt for a Bentley, Jaguar or even a classic 1950s Ford.
Creative couples could channel pop art! Design pop art inspired invitations and on-the-day stationery. Colourful bunting and flowers is another way to nod to the theme.
For some real inspiration, re-watch some classic 1950s films; any excuse to watch your old favourites!
Take a look at our article on planning a vintage kitsch 1960s wedding for some more inspiration on an unusual theme.
A 1950s’ Rock’n’Roll wedding theme inspires a huge range of classic vintage options and offers some fantastic opportunities when it comes to the wedding music. If you have any other suggestions that might fit the theme, please leave them in the comments below as we would love to hear your ideas.