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Wedding days are the culmination of many daydreams and days of dreaming. So why not make yours a study in one of our favorite new aesthetics: Dark Academia.

This relatively new internet aesthetic is a dreamy idealized version of higher education, the arts and literature with stylistic roots in the fashion of the 1930s and ‘40s, and the architecture and culture of boarding schools, the Ivies and Oxbridge.

Embracing this style doesn’t have to mean traveling to the city of dreaming spires and shelling out heaps of dosh to book the Bodleian Libraries for your ceremony. 

Here are some tips for pulling off this aesthetic right here in Las Vegas. Electric Sugar Elopements isn’t a secret society and our blog page isn’t a chapter room.

There’s no password or initiation ritual required to read our recommendations!

Invitations Inspiration

This is an easy place to start. Since dark academia is all about art, literature, and poetry you can set the tone for your special day with the design of your invites.

Pick your favorite romantic poem or passage to include. Love was a favorite subject of romanticism writers so there’s a shit ton of source material. Anything from Byron, Shelley or Wilde will do. 

Artwork should no doubt utilize the style of Rosa Bonheur, the richest and most famous female artist of 19th-century France.

Just don’t ask her for marriage advice.

She was too busy painting, riding and smoking to have time for a husband. If you’re looking for an art heroine with legit dark academia credentials, you’ve found her.

Of her art she once said, “It is my husband — my world — my life-dream — the air I breathe. I know nothing else — feel nothing else — think nothing else. My soul finds in it the most complete satisfaction.”

Decorations & Flowers Inspiration

Choose pieces that match the hallmarks of the aesthetic. Several dark academia ideals can be followed if you know where to look.

Overall, dark academia is very maximalist, a philosophy that believes more is more. If you’re going to go with it, go hard and go big. Bring as much of the aesthetic to life as you can.

Awe-inspiring Gothic Collegiate architecture is the stuff dark academia day dreams are made of. Pointed arches, flying buttresses and skyscraping spires all emphasize verticality.

Cue up the movie trailer for The Theory of Everything, and visually, you’re not far off.

You’ll also see a lot of libraries in dark academia. The kind that are common on campuses such as Princeton, Vassar and Trinity College.

Think multi-story spiral staircases, rows and rows of leather bound books, marble busts of Greek philosophers, dark woods and dimly lit reading nooks. The more easily you can wallow away the day deep in self reflection the better.

The colors cited most by dark academiasts mirror those of the Great Depression and the Second World War — black, white, beige, browns, dark green and occasionally navy blue.

Remember, in the 1930s the world was in a pretty dreary economic place, and in the 1940s the world was fighting WWII. War isn’t colorful. Keep it muted.

Keep these principles in mind when choosing your decorations. They’ll help you ace the test!

Attire Inspiration

Choosing cardigans, blazers, dress shirts, plaid skirts, Oxford shoes and clothing made of houndstooth and tweed will make you the envy of your dead poet’s society friends.

Ahh crap, we said no secret societies!

If there was a secret society we’d suspect Debbie Sessions to be a member. The self proclaimed history nerd has put together a badass site dedicated to period-correct fashion.

It’s well researched with enough origin story to fill a couple leather bound volumes. Virtual lookbooks and history lessons are sure to inspire your dark academia fashion choices.

Start at the bottom and work your way up. Online retailers offer new shoes inspired by ‘30s and ‘40s fashion, and they’re not limited to just women’s shoes.

If you’re a DIYer, you could make your own wedding day garments. This UK website has vintage patterns you can use for free. Give it the ol’ college try!

If you really want to take your attire next level, check out the Lowndes County Historical Society Museum’s collection of 1930s and ‘40s hats for some authentic inspiration. (You hang out in museums? How dark academia!)

Do some research and then top off your look with a striking dark academia accessory.

Refreshments Inspiration

Congratulations! You pulled it off. Everyone loved the invites. You got the look.

The decorations were spot on and the ceremony went off without a hitch. Now it’s time to party.

Keeping with the maximalist philosophy, your micro wedding shouldn’t end unceremoniously. Bust out the cake and pop the corks.

Prohibition came to an end in 1933, so you won’t be stepping outside of the dark academia’s boundaries to throw a few back. 

In fact, the year 1930 saw the publication of one of the most influential cocktail recipe books of all time; The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock.

Written and compiled by the Savoy Hotel’s master bar-tender, this seminal recipe book has more than 700 drinks.

Craddock’s introduction of American cocktail culture to London was as explosive as some of the hangovers his patrons surely fought off on Sunday mornings.

The White Lady, his most famous drink, seems appropriate for a wedding reception. Find the recipe and a history lesson at the Vintage American Cocktails website.

Or get frisky with the Hanky Panky. This one was created by Craddock’s American Bar predecessor, Ada Coleman. Like all three ingredient classics, it’s easy to make, but hard to get made right. Try it for yourself with this recipe.

No matter which of the hundreds of drinks is your wedding day go-to, take Craddock’s dark academia appropriate advice, drink it “[q]uickly. While it’s laughing at you.”

Okay, but some of you are just here for the cake, right? Relax, we’ve got you covered

The Weary Willie cake has both a regular and a chocolate version. Like any good historic recipe, its origin story is not so black and white.

The Chicago Tribune published two recipes when their food editor asked for readers to unlock the secret to the mystery posed to her in 1947. Enigmatic and period appropriate? Perfect!

Dark Academia vegans can have their cake and eat it too. Rationing during WWII meant eggs were hard to come by. But the war effort in Europe didn’t mean bakers stopped baking.

Fortunately for today’s egg averse dark academia brides and grooms, there’s the Wacky Cake. Wacky because there’s no eggs and it uses plant-based butter! This recipe appeared recently in the Sierra Club Magazine under the heading “Vegan Chocolate Cake” in the January–February 2020 issue.

Happily Ever After

To recap: More is more. Get cozy with inspiring art and lit from the age of romanticism. And what’s old is new.

If this list of ideas and inspiration isn’t enough, do like a dark academia type would do; spend an afternoon digging through books at the Carnegie Library.



McKenzi Taylor
McKenzi Taylor

For couples with personality wanting an offbeat, boundary-pushing wedding, McKenzi Taylor is fast-becoming America’s go-to elopement and micro-wedding expert. Electric Sugar Elopements barged onto the scene in 2021, with the company drawing on McKenzi’s 15+ years as a wedding photographer, 5+ years as a successful wedding coordinator, and standing as a board member for the LV chapter of WIPA. Her ‘let’s do this differently’ attitude to weddings has helped over 700 couples get hitched in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills, and has led to her being featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times.