Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” may have been a lot of things, but he sure knew how to throw one heck of a party. These scenes from the treasured novel have been brought to life numerous times (most recently by director Baz Lurhmann and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay), and are the epitome of glitz and glamour in the Roaring 20s. Whether you’re a bibliophile or you just want your wedding to feel like a 1920s party, throwing a Gatsby-style bash for your wedding is sure to make for one unforgettable night. Just remember: romanticize the aesthetic, not the dysfunctional couples. Here are some ideas for throwing a vintage soirée that’ll keep them talking for years.
Set the Scene With an Outdoor Wedding
Though you may not have Gatsby’s mega mansion or his beautiful gardens, you can still create the same ambiance with a strategically picked wedding location. Gatsby’s parties were observed through the eyes of the narrator, Nick Carraway, who described them colorfully:
“There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whispering and the champagne and the stars.”
To emulate the scene, pick a wedding date in the warmer months when you and your guests can comfortably jitterbug under the stars. If possible, pick a wedding location with lush gardens, outdoor seating, and plenty of romantic lighting. However, like any outdoor wedding, be sure that the venue has a contingency plan just in case of bad weather.
Art Deco-rate Everything
The 1920s was when the art deco architectural style was in its heyday, combining geometric forms with bold colors and sleek materials like chrome and stainless steel to create a glamorous, luxurious feel. To give your wedding that true Gatsby look, incorporate lots of silver, gold, black, and white with a pop of a bold color like crimson or hunter green into your decorations.
Shop at vintage stores (or at your relatives’ houses!) for antique décor that will go with your theme, such as silver trays, decanters, typewriters, or old costume jewelry that you can drape over tablescapes. If you’re thinking of having a photobooth for guests, you could also shop for a piece of antique furniture like a fainting couch or a sleek loveseat that would go well with your theme and commemorate the experience for your guests.
Pick out invitations, menus, and programs that have art deco-style geometric shapes and that have an old fashioned looking font like Franklin Gothic, Century Old Style, or Goudy Modern.
The important thing to remember is not to worry if things don’t match perfectly. Provide your guests with tons of small details to look at; this will give off an eclectic vibe.
Get Dressed to the Nines
Of course, the wedding dress and the tuxes are the center stage of the entire event and go far in tying the whole look of the wedding together. Dress the groom in a classic penguin tuxedo, complete with black bow tie and pinstripe vest. If your wedding is a bit more casual, dress the groom and groomsmen in white linen suits with suspenders underneath.
For the wedding dress, go with a dropped waist and something covered in beads or lace. To complete the look, create a vintage hairstyle with finger waves and top it off with a hair chain or a headband with jewels or feathers. Have your bridesmaids pick out something with a drop waist with flapper-inspired fringe and beads as well.
To take your wedding to the next level, ask your guests to dress in 1920s style outfits. Give them the suggestion on the invitation and advise them how to achieve the look on your wedding website. Asking your guests to participate and dress up will make for some fabulous pictures.
Get Swingin’ with Some Jazz
Though you can add some modern music to the mix once the dancing has started, it will add to the ambiance if you play some 1920s jazz and swing music during cocktail hour to really get the party going. Talk to your DJ about mixing some Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and the Charleston with your other requested tunes.
If you really want to commit to the theme, consider hiring a swing band to perform for the entire night. Adding live musicians to your wedding is always a fun idea and your guests will love it.
Pour the Champagne Like There’s No Tomorrow
If there’s one detail that you mustn’t leave out for your Gatsby wedding, it’s making sure you have enough champagne for your guests. Have a bottle reserved for each table (and maybe a few extras for you and the bridesmaids), so that everyone can do a proper toast to the happy couple.
Consider also having a signature cocktail available for those who aren’t huge fan of the bubbles. Mix up a batch of Old Fashioneds, Sidecars, or Manhattans and have them available for your guests on a vintage bar cart.