The Gatsby Summer Afternoon

gatsby theme wedding

One of my favourite books in high school was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby is more than a great story – it offers a fascinating glimpse into the roaring twenties and prohibition era – which make it an incredible source of inspiration for a vintage wedding!

As I was searching for images on The Great Gatsby themed weddings to share with you, I stumbled up the Art Deco Society of Oakland, Calfornia. Every year for the past 26 years the society has hosted the Gatsby Summer Afternoon, an event that pretty much blew my mind. I swear I would travel across the country to experience it just once!

“The  Gatsby Summer Afternoon lets several hundred aficionados of the 1920s and 30s step back to a time when elegance was a way of life and the Charleston and fox trot were all the rage.This is not a spectator event. From 1-6pm the panoramic Dunsmuir {an 1899 neoclassical revival mansion} front lawn becomes a stage on which all participants picnic, dance and sip champagne, reminiscent of a scene from The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel of 1925 …. With everyone attending this event in period fashions, the effect is stunning! Many guests bring period-perfect picnics, with settings from elaborate spreads, complete with silver, crystal, linens and china, to simple wicker baskets on vintage print tablecloths.”

Can you imagine?

As one participate wrote:

“People take this day seriously. Quite damn seriously. I like to think of this day as Burning Man for those who bathe and prefer a strong cocktail over sand and hallucinogens,”  says Mena, whose experience is featured on Nested.

In fact, if you read Mena’s story, preparing a picnic for the Gatbsy Summer Afternoon didn’t sound all that much different from planning a small, outdoor wedding reception. Here are some photos from her picnic:

{Below: She purchased authentic vintage soda labels on Etsy, and filled her own bottles with beverages that matched the labels.}

vintage soft drink labels gatsby summer afternoon great gatsby summer afternoon

Hmm… I wonder if they’ve had any weddings on site at the Gatsby Summer Afternoon?

First Photo: Gatsby themed wedding shot by Josh Goleman; Second, Third, Forth Photo: Nested

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3 Comments  |  Filed Under: Theme Weddings, vintage wedding

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  1. Posted by Jennifer on June 23rd, 2010 at 2:37pm

    It looks amazing! Truly just out of a book. I'm so impressed by the soda bottles and the effort gone into the details.
  2. Posted by Paula on June 24th, 2010 at 10:42am

    This would make an awesome wedding theme! Especially if they pay this much attention to all of the details...
  3. Posted by Laurie Gordon on May 19th, 2012 at 8:06pm

    Lovely article, thank you...Im the founder of the Gatsby Summer Afternoon and we actually have had several weddings on site over the years during our annual event...the wedding group can find a secluded spot for their ceremony on te grounds, but then dance to the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra with a few hundred "friends" they just met!The Gatsby Summer Afternoon is always the second Sunday in September! A few of the weddings have been very small and was fairly large, but the most amusing was the couple who filmed a mock wedding on the steps of the mansion which they then showed at their actual vintage style wedding reception the following month. The humorous part was the fact that they had told their guests that the ceremony would be very, very intimate...and then they showed a film of the bridal couple with hundreds of people eating, drinking and dancing behind them. It really did appear that all those attending the "Gatsby" were at their wedding. As a thank you for letting this be filmed onsite, they provided wedding cake slices for 500 people at the Gatsby Summer Afternoon.
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