Great Expectations Wedding

We love how the details of this wedding theme blend so well! The intricately decorated wedding cake and the beautiful gown appear to be designed from the same mold and pattern. The bouquet is styled to match the era and couldn’t be any more stunning. Why not consider this theme as a unique look for your wedding?

Details for a Great Expectations Wedding

Great Expectations is a story of unrequited love, but, its setting in the Victorian era makes for a great wedding theme. Pip’s true love is Estella, whose mother, Miss Havisham, also suffers under the burden of a love unreturned. Yet, by the end of this popular novel, those who loved one another have made amends and repaired their relationships.

The Victorian era setting of the novel offers a wealth of great ideas for a Great Expectations themed wedding. Elegance and romance are key features of the theme, and brides will often utilise a great deal of lace and roses. Couples may also want to wear period-inspired clothing, including petticoats and corsets!

What to Look for in a Venue for a Great Expectations Wedding

The Victorian era was known for its beautiful, romantic architecture and lush outdoor gardens; therefore, the Great Expectations wedding can be held in either an indoor or outdoor venue setting.

When it comes to an indoor venue, look for a historic home, even a mansion or a castle-type setting (there are many more castles in the United States than one might imagine). In lieu of an actual mansion or castle, a ballroom might be a more accessible option for brides in a Great Expectations themed wedding.

Colour Palette for a Great Expectations Wedding

The Victorian colour palette ranges from light pinks to rich, jewelled-toned colours. The colour palette for a Great Expectations wedding can include many varied hues and intensities.

Some brides may choose shades of pink for the chief colour in the Great Expectations wedding palette. Again, this can be anything from a blush pink to a deep rose colour paired with greens (lots and lots of greenery in floral arrangements) as well as gold as an accent colour.

Other brides may choose jewelled-toned colours such as shades of blue or burgundy with copper as an accent colour. Blues are often either a baby blue or sky blue, but the blues chosen for this wedding theme may also be navy or midnight blue. Copper may be woven into much of the wedding decor.

Food for a Great Expectations Wedding

Victorian-era individuals enjoyed an afternoon tea with sweet treats and the occasional sandwich, so, for afternoon receptions, this is the perfect menu for a Great Expectations wedding. In fact, one scene in the novel depicts Pip sitting down to an afternoon meal of tea, bread and butter. At the same time, Pip’s relative, Mrs. Joe, offered guests a lavish meal that involved “meats, sweets, and savory pies.”

Some of the sandwiches accompanying an afternoon tea were cucumber, egg or tomato sandwiches. Some of the breads were buttered scones served with jam, and fruitcake was a staple of the time.

Table Setting Style for a Great Expectations Wedding

Two classes of individuals were depicted in Charles Dickens’ novel, the poor and the aristocrats with some money. The poor would have had the bare basics at a table setting – a plate, a teacup, and perhaps a fork and spoon. However, the aristocratic table would have offered a place setting for a four-course meal. The plate would have been protected with a bronze or brass charger; a knife, spoon, and two forks would be placed according to the proper etiquette of the day.

Most brides opt for the more lavish table setting for a Great Expectations themed wedding, and they will choose the best china with floral patterns, typically.

Wedding Dresses and Accessories for a Great Expectations Wedding

A white dress was the trend for a Victorian era wedding, and the dress was often decorated with ruffles and lace.

The typical Victorian wedding dress was an hourglass shape, as this was thought to be the most flattering cut for women. Many times, a corset was worn underneath the wedding gown to draw the waist in as much as possible. While brides today may opt to forgo this piece of clothing, there are those who are excited to don a corset, and sometimes on the outside of the dress.

Other characteristics of the Victorian era wedding gown included a fitted bodice and full, flowing skirt that was often worn over a petticoat and hoops. These gowns were usually cut from linen, silk, or organdy material.

Menswear for a Great Expectations Wedding

While a tuxedo is always appropriate for a formal wedding, grooms and their attendants will want to ensure certain styles of tux in order to fulfill the Great Expectations wedding menswear criteria.

The typical suit worn by a gentleman of the Victorian era included a cutaway coat, sometimes called a frockcoat. The button-down shirt was topped by a waistcoat, and men usually wore an ascot or a cravat. Finally, trousers in materials such as tweed or wool would complete the outfit. Some men even added suspenders, but not if they were wearing the waistcoat.

Ankle boots were also the typical shoes of the day, no matter the social status of a man.

Wedding Cake Ideas for a Great Expectations Wedding

Wedding cakes in Victorian era England weren’t like wedding cakes today; in fact, they were more like Aunt Bethany’s fruitcake (minus pet hair) in the Christmas Vacation movie. However, these cakes were decorated with white icing and beautiful, intricate scrollwork. Orange blossoms often topped these cakes rather than a traditional topper.

Some bakers would put favors in the cake itself – charms, pennies (they were attached to a long ribbon so that no one would accidentally swallow the coin), and even mini-horseshoes were all a part of a Victorian era wedding cake.

Brides today may still opt for the modern cake with a real cake interior, and ask for buttercream to create the ornate scrollwork of the Victorian era.

Ceremony Decor for a Great Expectations Wedding

Some wedding experts recommend focusing first on the ceremonial backdrop to plan for the look you want. One expert even offers a Renoir painting from 1876 as the perfect planning point.

Other wedding experts say brides can’t go wrong with many vases filled with flowers and lots of antique lace. Fabrics and textures were important during the Victorian era, and this includes tapestries as well as beautiful rugs.

Lots of opulent floral arrangements are also in order for the Great Expectations wedding decor. Roses, peonies, and greenery are always a staple of a Victorian era wedding.

Reception Decor for a Great Expectations Wedding

The Great Expectations wedding reception decor will really allow brides to encompass the theme of the day. Set up round tables across the room, and cover them not only with white, floor-length table linens but also with Battenburg lace overlays. Be sure to check out flea markets and yard sales for lace doilies, too.

You’ll also want to find fancy sets of cups and saucers; they need not match! In fact, having a mixture of various cup and saucer sets lends even more to the Great Expectations theme (especially when Pip was younger and very poor).

Estella and Pip (+ Styled Shoot)

grey wedding inspiration board

The story of Estella and Pip in Great Expectations is definitely one of my favorites and creating inspiration boards from my favorite books is how this blog got started. The entire story evokes a mysteriously romantic ‘cloudy skies’ sort of mood in me and it has romantic elements that just beg to be incorporated into a wedding theme. This styled shoot by Ginny Branch and Heidi of Our Labor of Love is just the ticket. It effortlessly combines the everlasting nature of Pip’s love for Estella, the shabby glamour of Mrs. Havisham’s estate, and the beauty of a wedding. Plus, the gold spray painted the baby’s breath in the bride’s hair and the unique paper table runner are must-sees!

Great Expectations styled shoot / photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
bridal bouquet / photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
tablescape / photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
flowers in champagne / photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
salad / photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
gold hair flowers / photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
chair scrolls / photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
cake photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
save the dates photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
Great Expectations inspiration shoot photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love
bride with flower / photographed by Heidi of Our Labor of Love

Need more Great Expectations wedding inspiration? Check out this inspiration board of the title!

Credits: styled shoot credits: Photography: Heidi Geldhauser of Our Labor of Love // Planning & Coordination: Simply Charming Socials // Styling & Creative Direction: Ginny Branch with assistance by Jordan Wright // Floral Design: Amy Osaba // Paper goods & table runner: Erica Loesing // Hair & Makeup: Claudia Mejerle // Catering: Sun in My Belly // Furniture rentals: Settee Event Decor Rentals // Wedding Dress: Kelly’s Closet // Cake: Anne Kathleen Cakes // Videography: Chris Dekmar