1920s Wedding Inspiration - Plan Your Art Deco Dream
— By Raashka Mannie
17 October 2022
As Fitzgerald said, we like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties, there isn’t any privacy.
Because if you’re going to throw a 1920s-inspired wedding, you’ve got to do it with a whole lot of chutzpah, right?
Listen, we’ve got the whole thing covered. We know precisely how beloved the Roaring Twenties era is, even today. It’s something about the glitz and the glam - which is why it makes for such a fun-filled wedding theme.
We’ve spoken to the experts behind it all, from finding Auckland’s perfect ballroom venue at the Cordis to chatting to some purveyors of style themselves so you can uncover that stunning 1920s-inspired wedding dress you’ve been scouring every nook and cranny for. We’re joined by some of the best in the city to help bring your tinselled wedding day to life. This is your complete run-down of how to throw a Great Gatsby-esque wedding.
Table of Contents
Your 1920s wedding experts
- Fane from Cordis, Auckland, giving us the details behind their gorgeous ballrooms, coordination and styling.
- Sam & Kinda from Atelier Wu Bridal, filling us in on modern but timeless bridal looks and wedding dresses with the Old Hollywood twist everyone knows and loves.
- Danielle from Oh! Such Style, breaking down the décor dos and don’ts of a 1920s-inspired wedding.
- Kristina from La Lumiere, Auckland’s favourite lighting and styling wedding vendor, with ideas and insight to make your glamorous day shine.
- Georgia from Papier HQ, infusing elegance and a contemporary edge into your 1920s-styled wedding invitations and stationery.
1920s wedding style
The style of the 1920s was distinctly different from today’s, particularly regarding weddings. The movement was famously known for its love of excess - glitter, sparkle, champagne, indulgence and more. During that time, the Art Deco movement was also turning heads.
“Whether it is fully themed or just a few touches of design elements, a 1920s-inspired wedding to us is all about embracing the glamour and vintage flair of the Roaring ‘20s with a lot of chandeliers,” Kristina said. “The era showcases the opulent style of Art Deco with rich colours, crystal details and luxe fabrics.”
A Great Gatsby-styled wedding doesn’t have to be a cut-and-paste of the 1920s. As Kristina has mentioned, you’re welcome to lift elements that you find appealing and fit them into your own modernisation of the time.
Highlights of 1920s style:
- Golden accents
- Art Deco touches
- Champagne towers
- Geometric patterns
- Stark contrasts (palettes, textures, etc.)
Danielle said, “When I think of the 1920s style, I think of movement and texture. I see a lot of fringe and pearls but also the opulence of metals, like golds and lamés, as well as cut crystal glassware and so on.”
Ask yourself, what aspects of the 1920s style sing out to you? You can begin to build your wedding style on that.
KINDA'S tips on modernising the 1920s for today:
“When bringing older trends forward, there is a sensitive area to pay attention to in order to avoid ending up with a costume-like look. At the end of the day, it depends on what you are going for; if the idea is to have an overall 1920s feel on the day, you can play around with some of the lighter features of the decade. If you are delivering a full-on 1920s evening, then go all out with your tassels and furs to belong!”
1920s wedding traditions
We won’t be delving into every old-school tradition in the book, but there were some practices from the 1920s that underlined the decade more than most.
- Accessorising: Brides that tied the knot were particular about how they dressed to suit the time. The Juliet Cap veil - a cloche-style cap connected to a tulle veil - was a must for them. Alongside this, there were extremely long strands of pearl necklaces, huge bouquets and short bobs - but let’s not get too lost in 1920s fashion because we may never leave.
- Elopements: Believe it or not, this period of “fun before all else” resulted in a big spike in elopements. Couples loved to run away with one another in a whirlwind of impulse and excitement. Of course, elopements can be done today with a little more preparation.
- City hall celebrations: Another rising trend was a wedding day held at city hall. They were inexpensive, they were fun, and they were very much so “in the moment.” This was an era of many brides choosing not to have their fathers walk them down the aisle.
- Registries: Department stores in western countries made wedding registries a thing. Couples were flocking to sign up for gifts to make newlywed life all the sweeter, especially when it became commonplace amongst bigger stores.
Image by Cordis
The ideal 1920s wedding venue
We’ve done our due diligence to find the most fitting Great Gatsby-inspired wedding venue in our humble city. This is why we’ve chosen the finest venue in all of Auckland for your Art Deco wedding: Cordis.
“What sets Cordis apart when it comes to the 1920s-style is the Great Room - the grandeur of [it]. You've got the high ceilings, gold accents, and then you've got 33 chandeliers in the room. All of these factors combine to set it apart. And in terms of having a wedding themed for that style, we have had Great Gatsby-styled celebrations here before,” Fane told us.
We’ve also asked them all the ins and outs of planning said wedding, so you’re very welcome.
Planning your 1920s wedding with Cordis
How far in advance should I book my 1920s wedding at Cordis?
“It completely depends on the couple,” Fane said. “Some like to book a year out in advance and others book closer to the time. Anywhere between a year and six months out is the average, that’s a good timeframe to work with and gives the couple plenty of time to plan.”
Is there a minimum time to book by?
“With COVID, it's really changed how people book and plan in advance. I would say it’s near impossible to book a wedding two weeks out, we have done close to this in the past but it comes with a raft of challenges, so we would recommend a minimum of two months ahead to allow enough time to organise.
Will couples get to tour the spaces at the venue? Does it cost anything?
“The hotel has a detailed enquiry process. Once it pops up in our inbox we touch base with the client in the first instance and look at room options that best suit their numbers and requirements. From there, we will arrange a time to meet. Our site inspections are by appointment and free of charge for clients, we work with them to find a suitable time and go from there.”
Having a wedding at Cordis means couples have an on-site wedding coordinator. That’s you! What does it actually mean?
“The wedding is sometimes the first large-scale event that the couple has to arrange, which can be stressful and daunting. Our job is to work with the couple and their families to organise their special day, guiding them through the process by giving advice when needed, making sure that all the little details are handled and making the whole process pleasurable and stress-free.”
What about catering?
“In our wedding packages, they get the option to do a buffet or a plated menu. We have other options like live stations or dessert stations that we can put together. In the case of themed weddings like this, we would arrange a meeting with our chefs. They would have a chance to sit down and discuss with them and see what they were looking at, their vision, whether we would be able to do it and how we could best help. And more often than not, we've always been able to create their vision.”
As a wedding and events coordinator, is there any advice you have for couples planning a 1920s-styled wedding?
“I would really encourage them to look at that era without relying too heavily on certain movies because sometimes they have combined multiple eras. Especially if they want to emulate everything from the food to the décor and even the wedding attire, I encourage them to really look at the [1920s] era specifically - because we have found that
that sometimes what they want and what they’re taking inspiration from don’t always align. It’s such a specific era - so don’t get too caught up in trying to copy something exactly.”
Image by Papier HQ
Did you know?
In the 1920s, it was common for a groom and his family to be the main contributors to the wedding. This means they paid for most of the big day, from the reception to dressing the bridal party. We polled our couples and found out just how much that has changed:
- 42% of you believe the couple should pay for the bridal party
- 16% of you feel the bridal party should pay for themselves
- 42% of you think there should be a contribution from both sides
1920s wedding invitations & stationery
One of the many Great Gatsby touches you can add to your wedding is 1920s-inspired stationery, such as invitations, signage and menus. The Art Deco movement was (and is) incredibly popular, so it’s usually what couples decide when choosing stylistic elements for their wedding stationery.
Georgia told us, “We have definitely had requests for the Old Hollywood/ultra-glam [look] - but more of a modern take on it, so a bit more minimalistic with white and gold [yet] still featuring Art Deco geometry and a sense of luxury. Our black ink or black watercolour collection fits the bill a bit for that Art Deco vibe that was so popular back then! All our stationery can be customised from colour changes, printing methods or adding gold foil to match the ultra-glam era of the 1920s.”
And that’s what many people are looking for, after all: the 1920s, but today, modern, pretty but with a hint of old-time class. Gold accents and geometric shapes are a sure way to highlight this charm.
Image by On The Times Photography
On key factors that make up wedding invitations and stationery designed this way, Georgia explained, “Invitations serve as a glimpse for what's to come for your wedding day, so really portraying your 1920s wedding theme through your invitations is important. Feature prominent art - [aspects] such as angular lines, gold metallic foiling, script fonts, and strong colours to clearly [represent] the message. To keep the rest of the stationery consistent, it is important to decide on a colour palette and typefaces that you use throughout all your stationery to create cohesion.”
But if the only thing you’re looking for is 1920s-inspired wedding invitations, never fear, because you’re perfectly capable of doing so. Your wedding invitations don’t have to reflect the exact theme of your big day; sometimes, couples just wanna have fun.
“We certainly have people that do invitations that are completely different to their theme,” Georgia agreed. “Sometimes it's for fun or because they send their invitations so far in advance and they change their mind on their theme - or they want to keep their guests guessing for what's to come!"
What could be more 1920s than that?
Image by Itla Photo
1920s wedding décor
Of course, if you want the day to be an excellent 1920s extravaganza, then you can turn to the experts of styling and coordination for your day - they’ve seen it all, believe us.
“We have noticed a rise in requests for more lavish styled details,” Kristina told us. “[This includes] large clusters of chandeliers - particularly, our vintage-style Casbah and Empire chandeliers and custom draping installations, à la the 1920s.”
The Art Deco wedding theme
You know the highlights of the 1920s wedding style, but how do you put it together? That’s where stylists such as Oh! Such Style and La Lumiere come in. They work off years of experience and an understanding of what it means to throw an Art Deco wedding in today’s day and age.
“[The core of it is] glamour,” Danielle said. “Which is crazy given that it was [close to] the poorest time in human history with the Great Depression - but I feel like glamour is what people automatically think of because the images you see are of these sophisticated soirées. You would have men in 3-piece suits and pocket watches at jazz clubs with women who are immaculately dressed and coiffed, and it was a time just to be free, have fun and go wild. I guess we could also see it as opulence due to a culture of excess.”
Kristina furthered this point, saying, “[It was about a] maximalist style, opulent detailing and bold design - with plenty of chandeliers, of course.”
It’s recommended that you work closely with your stylist and planner to figure out how to incorporate a similar sense into your wedding and how far you’d actually like to take it.
Ask the experts
What factors would a lighting specialist focus on for a 1920s wedding?
“From a lighting and draping perspective, it is all about the aesthetic of luxury,” Kristina said. “This is translated through crystal chandeliers paired with layered luxe draping rich in texture and voluminous in appearance. Black and gold colour schemes are also introduced here.”
What factors would a stylist focus on for a 1920s wedding?
“Chandeliers are a big one for lighting,” Danielle concurred, “but also the fringe elements and even the gold melted pendants that are hugely popular at the moment. Textures in tablecloths and stationery would be a great way to bring in the style using sequins and feathers. I would also suggest playing with colours here. Most people do go for black and gold, but you really could add your own spin on things by incorporating rich, jewel tones in all areas.”
The final verdict: talk to planners and stylists as much as possible. If you dream of putting together a gorgeous Art Deco wedding theme, go to the ones who know the most about doing so and chat with them. Learn about blending your vision with reality through the people who will do their utmost to bring it to life. You’re likely to find wedding vendors that click with you and really see what you’re going for, as well as how best to turn it into more than just a dream.
Image by Itla Photo
On styling your 1920s wedding, Fane advised couples not to rely too heavily on online inspo:
“[Try] not to use Pinterest as a place to draw [too much] inspiration from. Sometimes, what will happen is that they fall in love with something that they see on Pinterest, but quite often, it won't translate the same way in the room because the two venues are different. They try and want to duplicate it, but it doesn't come out as expected, and a lot of the time, it's because the venues are too different. Such as, if one venue [is] completely white, the set-up looks amazing. With another venue, [it] has corners with many darker tones or gold, and the two don't mesh. That's advice I always give couples to use: use it as an inspiration but also don't get too caught up in trying to copy the exact same thing.”
1920s wedding dresses
This is it, this is the big one. There’s nothing more glorious than looking back at the 1920s wedding style and spending hours and hours learning about what brides wore and why. Armed with distinct ideas of what they wanted to wear and why, women from this era took to styling themselves flamboyantly like ducks to water. This shone through on their wedding days because there’s nothing so glamorous as 1920s wedding dresses. To this day, it is a popular request.
“Fashion just goes round and round,” Sam told us with a laugh. "[The 1920s style] is coming back, so our whole collection includes those kinds of features.”
Image by Atelier Wu
Atelier Wu's checklist for a 1920s wedding look
- Close to the body
- Hangs on the figure
- Dropped waistline
- Heavily beaded lace
- Art Deco-inspired and scalloped-style patterns
- Metallic colours: silver, gold, rose gold
- Layering pearls for necklaces and bracelets
- Geometric-shaped, Art Deco-inspired patterns
- Mixing metallic shades
- Lower, jewelled heels
- Smaller/thinner earrings
- Side hair pieces with jewels
- Deeps lips
- Bold eyeliner
- Retro-styled hair
Kinda adds that for an intense 1920s look, you can add a fur scarf, some fringe elements around the skirt of the dress, or even scatter some feathers here and there.
Images by Atelier Wu
Popular 1920s wedding veils
- Juliet Cap veil: a cloche-style cap connected to a tulle veil; they can be either bohemian or vintage (or both!)
- Birdcage veil: a short veil covering the face partially, with a decorative comb resting on the top of the head for a vintage look
- Cathedral veil: a long veil that extends beyond the train of the bride's gown, this is by far one of the most dramatic veils one could choose
- Headbands/headpieces: with or without a veil, headpieces featuring pearls, gold and/or jewels were donned to give brides even more sparkle
Popular 1920s wedding hairstyles
- Short bobs: by far, the most popular look from the 1920s is the short, sharp bob. It can range from chin-length to just under the ears, usually paired with a micro fringe
- Finger waves: zig-zag finger waves were a definite trend during this time, with or without the short hair, either pulled into a low ponytail, bun or pinned back with pretty clips
- Slicked back: for all genders, slicking their hair back for a sleek, put-together look was a go-to choice
- Gibson tuck: ideal for longer hair, this is essentially a low bun gathered at the nape of your neck in a loop
- Blown-out: for a more classic look, pin-curls during a blowout are a safe option
- The coil: staid but still making a statement, a pin-coil fringe was swirled into place on top of the head and usually accompanied by jewels, pearls or something shiny