The Gatsby Effect: A Look at Art Deco Wedding Invitations

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The ‘Gatsby effect’ has made itself felt in weddings since the release of Baz Lurhmann’s extravagant 2013 remake of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale The Great Gatsby. Rather than a roaring return of the opulence and extravagance of the 1920s, Art Deco has added a touch of old world charm to wedding invitations (think vintage glamour).

From the invitation design to the wedding day itself, Art Deco design is characterised by bold geometric forms, symmetry, high contrast colour and the industrial chrome of the brave new world (how appropriate for the event that marks the beginning of the next part of your life?!).

We thought we would take a look at Art Deco Wedding Invitations and break down the design. Be warned. You might just fall, irrevocably, in love.


(Invitation examples)


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This gold foil press on white is perfect. Variation can be created across a wedding invitation stationery set with a change in foil or paper colour but how beautiful is the geometric pattern pressed in silver on blue?


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Imagine you and your partners name in that bold typeface, framed by this wonderful geometric border (you were warned that Art Deco themed design would be dangerous! Here’s the reason why).


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How great is this wedding invitation? Check the orange, green, black and white colour palette of this floral geometric design, punctuated by diamonds.


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We love the floral design of this wedding invitation! Maybe it’s a little bit more 1920s than Art Deco, but aren’t the colours and shape gorgeous? The dome top of the central panel makes it feel like a stain glass window.


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Again, there is the black and gold but with space to give the invitation a touch of elegance.


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Paisley colours can be used to great effect. In this invitation design the muted greens and pinks are contrasted by the dark green.


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Gold and black are common elements of Art Deco Invitation designs. Here, they’ve repeated the soft lines of the stylised leaves with bold circles.


The weight and shape of Art Deco fonts can vary. Designer, writer and typographic consultant, Ilene Strizver, says ,

Art Deco type styles range from uncomplicated, low-waisted monostroke designs, such as ITC Anna, Bernhard Fashion, Busorama and Coquette, to more intricate, decorative type styles, such as Beverly Hills, Chic, Broadway Engraved, Gallia, ITC Mona Lisa Recut and Philco Deco The most ornate Deco designs feature double, triple or multi-lineal stroke details. Art Deco typestyles can be angular or curvy, elegant or playful, but all have the attitude of swank sophistication we associate with that period.

So, you can see, there’s enough room to play with what you like. The variety complicates the decision. These are great examples but how do you use them?

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If you’re getting a customised Art Deco wedding invitation set, your designer will tell you that these fonts are decorative so they probably won’t suit for all the text on your invitation.

There are some rules for choosing typefaces that go together, something like: sans serif should go with serif rather than fonts that are too similar to them. That kind of thing.

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A simple sans serif partnered with an art deco font can’t really go wrong; the lighter weight and positioning below the Art Deco font means that it won’t distract from the beautiful decorative text.


The classic black and white photos from the 1920s always seem to be filled with white lace and paisley prints. Come night time, the photographs reveal sequins, embroidery, rising hem lines and boxed silhouettes for both men and women.

In our contemporary reimagining’s, the flat surface of those photos have become soft, velvet-like plum, midnight blues and dark forest greens. The best Art Deco invitation designs contrast these deep colours with the clean, bright silver and gold foils.

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Or, they create a relaxed, afternoon-garden-party-with-Miss Marple feeling with subdued tones of these purples, blues and greens.

Contrast is all about choosing two colours: our eyes automatically decide on a hierarchy between the two so that one recedes as a background and the other stands out as the primary focus. You can generally tell whether you like a colour combination straight away (if it’s all about taste, you know what you like). There are some rules about how colours work together.


Once you’ve found the colour and font for you invitation, you can look to the products of the Art Deco movement for inspiration.

Looking at architecture, furniture, art, they’re all characterised by straight lines, geometric shapes and stylised symbols of nature. If that’s not what you like, you can always use the great iconographic images of the Charleston, long cigarette holders puffing smoke and cocktails being sipped over the bar.

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In art, after Dadaists had been raging against formalism, Art Deco was defined by a meeting of cubism, constructivism, modernism and futurism. There was a deliberate play with the ideal relationship between colours, while the shapes were rounded and soft. Post World War One, a note of hope, and celebration of technology and travel belonged to everything.

Tamara de Lempicka stands out as the quintessential daughter of the 1920s and pioneer of a unique Art Deco aesthetic. Born in Poland, she studied in Switzerland, lived with her first husband in St. Petersburg until the Russian Revolution, and became a renowned portrait painter in Paris until she moved to America before the Second World War with her second husband. The rest of her life moved between Europe and America, as she developed her luxurious and sensual style markedly influenced by a kind of soft cubism.

Among a hundred paintings, you could recognize mine, my goal was: Do not copy. Create a new style…colors light and bright, return to elegance in my models.

De Lempicka could easily be your model for a woman – confident, independent, and a little rebellious in her art and in her life. For your Art Deco Wedding Invitation, look at de Lempicka’s work to see examples of the perfect balance of colour and her warm representations of the female body.

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While we’ve broken down choosing your general invitation wording, a theme can be a fun way to personalise the details.

1920s brought to life a whole new youth culture and slang. Historical themes, like Art Deco, have the possibility for language that we don’t necessarily use every day. Play with that.

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Keep in mind, there are still some Do’s and Don’ts of Wedding Invitations.

An example for some wedding invitation might be

Despite the flat tire of their first date,

They ended up in the struggle buggy


Jessica and Peter

Invite you to join them as they walk down the middle aisle

And then whoopee well into the night

The RSVP can be fun too


CASH (yes) or CHECK (no)

With a little research you might be able to find language appropriate to your Wedding Menu as well, but with the beautiful and extravagant food common to the era you’re probably better off with some creative food poetry. See our Wedding Menu Wording for a place to start.

Or slang may just not fit the Ritz and glamour you’re going for. Take a leaf from Lurhmann’s movie soundtrack: old meets new to great effect.


What kind of print achieves the understated sophistication of Art Deco?

If you want people to focus on the visual be able see it, foil stamping achieves the beautiful thickness of colour along those straight, geometrical lines.

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On the other hand, letter press gives grooves and tactile texture with or without colour. With letterpress there is even more potential to create contrast – tactile or visual.

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If you’re creating something a little bit different with a custom Art Deco Wedding Invitation through iconography from the art movement, why not try digital printing? On a smooth paper or high gloss, the colours will be sharp. For something a little bit softer, a thicker, patterned paper will imitate the soft canvases of the original works.

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The lines between themes tend to blur. Art Deco stands out and lends a sophisticated charm to whatever you’re trying to do. As a stand-alone theme to base your day around, it is all about understated charm. The wedding invitations are the place to start. Once you’ve chosen your colour and design, everything else will just follow.

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