Creating a Great Gatsby Wedding

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Kate McGough
Perspective Studio Photography

The Wedding Guys® are passionate about the wedding industry and the joy a wedding celebration brings. It’s this same passion that drives The Wedding Guys to devote their own personal time to charity. From meeting one-on-one with couples over dinner, to answering questions or giving creative insight, to actually planning an entire wedding reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby era, their donations have raised thousands of dollars for local charities.

At the annual Red Cross Gala, The Wedding Guys were auctioned off to creatively plan and design a wedding. Bill and Carrie Nolan, who had been planning a destination wedding in San Francisco, became that lucky couple. Bill and Carrie planned to get married in San Francisco overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, but wanted a reception in Minneapolis upon their return. This is where Wedding Guys Bruce Vassar and Matthew Trettel stepped in.

This reception wasn’t going to be a “typical” wedding reception. Actually, the couple didn’t really even want the reception to be called a reception. To Bill and Carry, the gathering would be an opportunity to bless everyone and allow both families to come together and celebrate a new family.

To help them with the planning, The Wedding Guys met with Bill and Carry to outline the main details of “likes and dislikes” and then brainstorm creative ideas.

The list of important aspects of the event included:
• An overall style that was not formal or stuffy
• An element of fun—more social and relaxed
• Great food and beverages
• Great dance music
• Excellent photography (very important)

The concept of the theme soon became clear, a family gathering or a reunion-type setting, reminiscent of “The Great Gatsby.” The theme was not based on the opulent wealth of the story, nor did it focus on any one character. It was expressed in the subtlety of the lively parties, family, friends, and ambiance of the 1920s. The venue would have to be a beautiful historic mansion. The elegant Gale Mansion, built in 1912, was the perfect fit. It’s neo-classic façade, stepped terrace and lawn couldn’t have been more appropriate. The interior with it’s period décor, rich woodwork and grand spaces added to the ambiance.

Kate McGough, Perspective
Studio Photography

Upon entering the mansion, the scene was set with flowers from that era. Gladiolus, mums, lilies, and gardenias decorated the entrance. Flowers definitely not common in today’s typical wedding, but Stems and Vines, was able to create a look that was simply amazing. Remember those 1920s wedding images of flowers in white wicker trumpet vases with a large circular wicker handle? Stems and Vines created a modern twist utilizing similar flowers, placed in a silver trumpet vase with a circular handle made out of curly willow branches. Below the arrangement, on the table, were place cards in perfect rows separated by gladiolus blossoms in yellow and peach. These blossoms would be used as part of the blessing ceremony. The place card table, made of mahogany, also displayed framed poems and readings used during the wedding ceremony, along with a picture of Bill and Carrie in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. While the guests mingled, the staff butler passed iced tea, lemonade, and chilled water. 

The bride’s bouquet was hand tied with fragrant gardenias and trailing love knots—tied with stephanotis blossoms. These details were also repeated in the head table arrangement. The groom’s boutonniere was a simple stephanotis blossom tied with peach ribbon, a very trendy color of the 1920s. The lavish affairs of the 1920s (described as “the most colorful decade in American history”) often incorporated fruit into luncheon and dinner buffets, so fruit such as oranges and limes were used as a focus in the guest table centerpieces.

The bride and groom didn’t take the theme to the extreme by renting costumes or wearing period-appropriate hats, what they did was similar in style—but with a modern flare. The bride wore a graceful slip dress of silk satin and a stunning silk organza overlay highlighting exquisite antique lace and embroidery. Fashions from the “Jazz Age” of the 1920s often included simple silhouettes with a wide variety of details. The gown was set off with period-inspired jewelry.

Kate McGough
Perspective Studio Photography

Since the ceremony in California didn’t include family and friends, it was very important to Carrie that her father escort her down the staircase. Having her dad walk her down the aisle had been her dream since she was a little girl. Despite the fact that their wedding mirrored an era almost 90 years ago, the effect of watching a beautiful bride walk down a staircase toward her groom was timeless. Bill and the couple’s newborn daughter, Abby, waited at the bottom for Carrie to join them.

Not to be completely outdone, the groom was dressed in an ivory suit with a peach and blue tie, finished off with ivory shoes, very reminiscent of gentlemens’ picnic attire of the 1920s.

Outside on the lawn the Wedding Guys placed a wrought iron gazebo and a stone fountain. The backdrop created a perfect setting for the marriage blessing that took place on the lawn. Friends and family took part in a reading and wishing the couple a lifetime of happiness by tossing colorful gladiolus blossoms into the fountain.

Children and adults enjoyed a game of lawn croquet while sipping drinks and socializing before dinner. When it was time to eat, guests moved into the dining room, beautifully arranged in a family-style setting with antique place settings, complements of the Gale Mansion. Guests dined on a light fare of pastas and salads. The crowning touch of the evening was the delicious cake by Jessica’s Cakes. With the fresh taste of summer, each layer featured a unique flavor: orange, raspberry and chocolate combined to make a memorable end to a memorable “Great Gatsby” wedding reception.

Visit Real Weddings on to see more pictures of Carrie and Bill’s wedding and to preview other unique themed real weddings.