How to Create a 1920s Themed Wedding

A 1920s wedding theme is the perfect choice for a couple who wants to celebrate in a glamorous, romantic way. Here’s how to execute it in modern fashion.

By The Zola Team

bride in carriage
Photo by David Lemp Photography

The Roaring Twenties got its name for a reason. This decade is defined by the rise of popular culture and sweeping economic growth that caused a dramatic increase in city dwellers and “new money.” This, in turn, brought about lavish parties and luxe style. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?

We can thank F. Scott Fitzgerald for giving us all a glimpse into what life was like (for some) back then and enamoring us with the era. He brought said lavish parties to life in The Great Gatsby, and the film rendition made it look like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Naturally, these famous works of art have inspired many a bride and groom to embrace the decade.

A 1920s wedding theme is the perfect choice for a couple who wants to celebrate in a glamorous, romantic way—and also celebrate late into the night. It’s the perfect combination of beauty, romance, and fun. You can play up the vintage wedding decorations, or put a modern twist on it. Here’s how to create a 1920s-themed wedding that puts parties of the past to shame.

The Setting

It must be grand, darling. A 1920s-themed wedding deserves an epic venue that can house a raging dance floor. You’ve seen The Great Gatsby, haven’t you? A mansion in the hills? Check. A black and white ballroom in the city? Check. A backyard by the coast, complete with fountains and gardens or an awesome pool? All of these venues could serve as the perfect setting for a ‘20s wedding. When you add in the extravagant decor and finer details, you can really turn any space into a time capsule.

The Color Palette

Black, white, silver, and gold are natural color choices for a Gatsby-esque fete. Choose a combination of two or three of these classic shades, or work with all four. They go together beautifully, and the result is glamorous and timeless. Kick it up a notch and request your guests come in coordinating colors. Then, they’ll truly feel like they stepped back in time at your Great Gatsby wedding.

You can stick with classic colors and metallic finishes, or incorporate an accent color into the palette as well. Pastels, such as rosy pink or pale yellow, will feel more vintage and highlight the romance of the era, while bolder hues, such as teal blue or emerald green, will feel more modern and highlight the drama of the decade instead. You’ll stay in step with the theme and achieve the most timeless look if you stick to incorporating such hues in subtle ways, such as a few floral arrangements here and there, stationery illustrations, and wedding party attire.

How to Create a 1920s-Themed Wedding Photo Credit // Stone Blue Productions

The Attire

The key to executing a 1920s wedding in style is fashion. The fashion from the era is one of its trademarks, so it’s essential to include in your themed nuptials. Embellished fabrics, glamorous headpieces, shiny shoes, and top hats—what’s not to love?

For a wedding dress, consider fabric like lace or satin silk that feature embellishments such as beads and fringe. Think decadent yet fun. After all, the ladies of the time were known for pushing the fashion envelope with shorter hemlines and shifty silhouettes.

You should always choose a silhouette best suited for your figure, but the shape is also a sure way to keep your gown current. For a more modern take on the trends of the time, opt for a dress with all the right details in a contemporary silhouette. You can always play up the theme with accessories—a beaded cape or clutch, for example—that you can add or remove as the night goes on.

For the groom, choose a dapper three-piece suit that would give Jay Gatsby a run for his money. Feel free to play with fabrics like tweed and velvet or prints like herringbone and plaid for a look that truly reflects the time period, but you can never go wrong with a timeless black and white tux. He too can add accessories—a pocket watch or fedora, perhaps—and don them the entire time or just for a few thematic photos.

The Decor

Art Deco decor is a signature of the Jazz age and one of the main reasons couples flock to a 1920s wedding theme. Embracing the glitz and glamour of a century ago (can you believe it?) is all too easy, but art deco can also feel ultra-contemporary. When done right, a 1920s wedding strikes the perfect balance between then and now.

Bold geometric designs that were popular back then are popular today, plus they’re easy to incorporate into your wedding day decor. Consider a statement-making ceremony backdrop in the shape of a diamond, tall and thin acrylic signage for an escort card display, and striking square stationery on each plate.

Speaking of stationery, the art deco style is defined by minimalist fonts aptly named “Deco” or “Gatsby.” Get the theme across by using one or the other on signage and paper goods. Strike a romantic balance by incorporating a complementary clean calligraphy font as well. Complete the look with sunburst motifs, a trademark of the times.

While clean lines and cool shapes reflect the era well, the true art deco air can only be accomplished with gilded shimmering decor. Sequin linens, crystal chandeliers, metallic flatware, and mirrored furniture will transform any venue into a space beautiful enough for Daisy Buchanan.

Soften the strong lines of geometric shapes and the intensity of metallic ornaments with delicate nods to the decade, such as feathers and fringe, both of which can be beautiful additions to floral centerpieces and ceremony arches. You can also embellishments like bows on the back of each chair or pearls scattered across tables for a more feminine feel. When you’re working with a luxurious theme and a simple color palette, you can add decorations without fear of going over the top.

How to Create a 1920s-Themed Wedding Photo Credit // Mary Veal Photography

The Drinks

Champagne is the natural drink of choice, but don’t settle for a few flutes here and there. Presentation is everything, so a Champagne tower is an absolute must. Beyond fueling everyone’s fancy with a bit of bubbly, decorate your cocktail hour and wedding reception with vintage-style bar carts fully stocked with signature libations and a suspender-clad bartender to boot.

Have you ever tasted a 1920s cocktail you didn’t like? The Bee’s Knees, the Gin Rickey, the French 75… we’ll wait. And to think these all came out of the Prohibition Era. Serve up the ultimate cocktail bar at your 1920s wedding by picking one or two (or three, if you can’t decide) signature cocktails from the decade. Be sure to have them poured into vintage coups, etched whiskey glasses, and goblets to stay on theme.

The Atmosphere

Give your guests a night they won’t soon forget by prioritizing the atmosphere. The music and dancing often provide the most memorable moments at a wedding, and this should be especially true of a 1920s-themed wedding. Set the stage with a jazz band and a playlist of roaring tunes that will get everyone out on the dance floor. In true art deco fashion, lay a dance floor of black-and-white checkered tiles, or decorate it with decals such as the sunburst motif and the movie catchphrase “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.”

Lighting is another important aspect of the atmosphere not to be overlooked. In true Gatsby fashion, hang crystal chandeliers from the ceiling, ideally on dimmers, so you can turn down the lights when the dance floor gets going. Also consider lighting up each table with candles in glass or crystal hurricanes for a luxe look.

Fireworks? Why not! A fireworks show is the ultimate send-off at any wedding, but one that will truly put the icing on the cake at a ‘20s-inspired fete.

The Exit

If a fireworks show isn’t in the budget, a sparkler exit will do just fine. Have your guests light the way with individual sparklers as you and your spouse make your exit. Complete the evening in theme by climbing into a 1920s vintage vehicle. Wave goodbye from the window of a Ford Roadster or a Rolls Royce Phantom to the delight of both you and your guests. The photos your photographer will capture will be priceless.

At its core, a 1920s-themed wedding is supremely cool. It’s stylish, lavish, and fun. There’s a reason we’re still enamored with the roaring ‘20s a century later. The decade was monumental on every scale. And by modeling your wedding after it, it will be too. When you’re done putting your own twist on the theme, it’s the 2020s that will be inspiring brides of the future.

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