In the 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, legendary writer F. Scott Fitzgerald aimed, among other things, to portray the decadence and excess of the Roaring Twenties. The novel has become synonymous with the extravagant parties thrown by the protagonist Jay Gatsby.
With embellished dresses, vintage cars and an abundance of food and drinks, a Gatsby-inspired wedding is all about the glitter and glamour of the 1920s. But this does not mean it has to be over the top. The shapes of Art Deco and the fashion of the Jazz Age are perfect to give a chic, distinctive style to your wedding party.
Go for the flapper look with dropped waists and rich detailing
The glamour of Daisy Buchanan has been made famous thanks to her film portrayals, first by a green-sequin-clad Mia Farrow in 1974, then by a stunning Carey Mulligan in a Miuccia Prada-designed outfit.
1920s fashion was all about modernising women’s outfits after the Victorian era and War World I. Silhouettes changed drastically, with corsets being abandoned in favour of dropped waists and shift dresses, hems being shortened to below the knee to allow for movement, and pleats and embellishments becoming extremely fashionable. Silk was the most covetable and expensive fabric at the time.
The secret to an exquisite, scene-stealing 1920s wedding dress is the detail: whether you choose intricate lace or geometrical sequin decorations, the embellishments will be as important as the shape of the dress.
Inspired by the 1920s, our bride Emily chose the Bea dress, with a romantic two tier skirt and pretty eyelash lace on the neckline.
Choose a stunning headpiece to complete your look
No fashionable woman in the 1920s would leave the house without unique hair accessories to complete her look. Wedding veils took the shape of the most popular hat style of the time, the cloche, and were often decorated with flowers or jewels. If you would like a simpler hair piece, you can go with a ornate flapper headband, encrusted with pearls and gems.
The most popular hair look of the Jazz Age was a boyish bob cut, then styled in “water waves”. In a 1927 article, actress Ann Harding described how it would take years to “train” the hair in waves, but you can just ask your hairstylist to help you out.
If you are getting married in the colder months, you cannot go without a fur wrap: the economic boom following World War I gave people the means to buy luxurious items, and furs were in incredibly high demand. A study found that fur was so popular that in the 1920s, two out of three women on a UK street would be wearing a fur coat.
Your venue and decorations are all about the glitz
“At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough coloured lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden”, narrator Nick says about his neighbour’s parties. If they are the inspiration for your wedding, take it as a sign that you can be generous with lighting.
A striking yet elegant palette to use is white, black and gold; you can also include feathers and pearls in your design. Take a cue from Gatsby and use a lot of lights, especially if your venue has a garden that you can adorn.
Choose a location that has a lot of space for dancing. While Gatsby went with “a whole pitful of oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and cornets and piccolos, and low and high drums…”, a smaller ensemble to play ‘20s jazz, or any music that makes you want to party like it’s the Roaring Twenties will be just as much fun.
As the leading lady of the day, make your entrance in style: Choose a gorgeous vintage car to move between locations with your nearest and dearest.
Add a modern touch with an Art Deco inspired cake
If you are throwing a party to rival Gatsby’s, a showstopping cake is a must. Consider incorporating the architectural and aesthetic trend of the twenties, Art Deco, and use its geometric ornate shapes to decorate your wedding cake. In the past few years, the 1920s wedding trend has produced some masterpieces to take inspiration from.
Of course, at this point the champagne should be flowing and fancy food should have been served. F. Scott Fitzgerald describes Gatsby’s menu as “garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold”, and his bar as “stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials” – a rarity during prohibition.