Roaring '20s-themed weddings have all that jazz

Something old, something new



The Roaring ’20s live on in pop culture as a high-spirited whirl of a decade, full of dancing flappers, dapper gents and an overall air of optimism.

For many modern brides and grooms, it’s the perfect vibe for a wedding.

Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby film remake rekindled interest in 1920s style, and on television, even the prim Granthams of Downton Abbey have left staid Victoriana for high-spirited dance clubs – or at least Cousin Rose has.

Think creamy linens, lawn parties, Jazz Age music. Champagne coupes, gilded details, and Old Hollywood hair and makeup. And dancing.

“The sophisticated beauty and elegance of the period is the perfect inspiration for a wedding.

The theme allows couples to honor the past and bring this lively age to life in a creative and bold way,” says Marsha Hunt, co-owner with Bridget Connell of Haute Flower Boutique in Minneapolis.

They have incorporated elements of the era into wedding receptions
both contemporary and traditional, she said.

The goal is to find “that happy medium between being completely poised but also letting loose,” says Shira Savada, Real Weddings Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.




Brides might follow the lead of model Kate Moss, who wed musician Jamie Hince in July 2011. Moss asked designer John Galliano to make her a vintage-style wedding dress, and he used F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, as inspiration. The cream-colored, bias-cut gown featured an Art Deco motif along the bottom, and was embroidered with gold, spangled with gold paillettes.

Gowns of the ’20s featured sequins, fringes and other embellishments, but the cut was usually simple. Dropped waists and low backs defined the formal silhouette. Necklines weren’t overworked, and most dresses were either sleeveless or given a little lacey cap sleeve, evoking the look of a slip dress, whether full or tea length.

If you’re having a dress made, don’t go for bright white, Savada says. Keep it within the vintage aesthetic – vanilla, ivory, or the palest of pink, canary or blush.

Jeweled headpieces, perhaps with lace, more sequins, rhinestones or feathers, might take the place of a veil, although Savada suggests brides can do both. “Pairing a bejeweled headband with a veil is a timeless but nostalgic look.”

Source dresses on Ebay, where silk, pearl and lace-trimmed originals go for as low as $75. Find lots of reproductions of gowns and flapper dresses here too, great for bridesmaids.


Online, Brides magazine has a slideshow of inspiration, with dresses by Jenny Packham, Nicole Miller, Monique Lhuillier and others. Many bridal retailers have good selections of vintage-inspired dresses.

Grooms and groomsmen might look at three-piece suits in linen or light-colored wool for summer; for a more casual affair, consider a striped blazer, even a boater style hat, and suspenders. For winter, navy or charcoal-gray wool, or a tuxedo. Bow ties bring the look home, although a necktie in a prep-school pattern would also fit the style.

And if gentlemen want to take things one step further, add a pair of two-toned brogues, light-colored oxfords, or patent-leather formal wingtips for the tuxedo.


Compiling a playlist from the era will get everyone in the mood. If it’s within your budget, hire a jazz band with a singer. Use an old-fashioned microphone for speeches.

To get the dancing started, enlist a few friends to show off some simple 1920s moves like the Charleston and the Baltimore Buzz; how-to videos are online.

Serve swanky beverages popular during Prohibition, like gin rickeys, mint juleps and champagne cocktails. A champagne fountain has the right Gatsby-esque vibe.

Consider setting up a black-and-white photo booth with props including feather boas, long necklaces, straw boaters and newsboy caps. Silent films projected on a wall provide more atmosphere.

Favors could include souvenir champagne glasses, silver cocktail sticks, mini flasks for the fellows, and stretchy beaded headbands or bead strands for the ladies.

Instead of a standard guest book, set up a vintage typewriterso that well-wishers can type up messages for the bride and groom.

Wind the festivities down with a final flourish of metal foil confetti, a la Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby revelries.


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