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The Question posed:

My Fiance and I are getting married this September 25th and we were contemplating having the reception on a harbor cruise boat and having it be a “classy pirate theme” haha, if such a theme could exist. My fiance is a Captain in the Marine Corps so we thought that it would be clever (and probably dorky but who cares) since he is a captain and I will be his 1st mate?!
We thought we would provide a “treasure chest” of dress up items such as hats, swords and eye patches to add a little fun for pictures etc. However I was wondering if you have any ideas as far as how we should style our invitations , and decorate the reception area to go along with the theme but not make it look like a party store raided the boat.
Let me know what you think, any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much-

YLE Answer:

Without knowing things like colors you’ve chosen or more specific criteria, we’ve come up with an array of thoughts and ideas for you to ponder on as well as an inspiration board to start you off.  This inspiration board is a jumping off point and should be more narrowed down once you’ve more developed your theme. 

Based on your question above, we started off with using the compass as our main thematic element and the nautical rope as our second thematic element and went from there choosing invitations with a compass and a small rope (etsy ExQuisiteInvitation).  Our advice is to use these thematic elements or your own to help you create a cohesive look to your wedding.  You won’t need to do much actual decorating of the boat (nor will they probably allow you to) in order to get your message across to your guests.  We absolutely LOVED the compass escort cards from Etsy designer LH Calligraphy and think these are a MUST to really take your wedding to the next level.

To continue with the theme we’ve chosen, we found a couple of cake designs with a compass on them and really like the idea of either using the rope for the cake to sit on top of or even a nautical map.

As for centerpieces, you don’t want to hit your guests over the head, or like you said, make it look like you raided a party store.  We love the tall cylindrical vases with the bases wrapped in the nautical rope.  The idea of using various designs of one vase with just colored water and the rope, one vase with submerged orchids and the rope and other vases with a small amount of colored water and a candle is not only beautiful and sophisticated but will also bring down your costs.  Other options for centerpieces are simple vases filled with sand, shells and beach grass or even a large cluster of shells.

Another cute decor option is to find fishing net and use it either as overlays or as placemats (see lower left picture in inspiration board).  Again, this will tie into your theme, look nice and will bring down your costs of ordering really fancy table linens.  We also like the idea of tie’ing each napkin with the nautical rope.

Because you are setting out a chest with costumes for your guests to dress up (a fun and whimsical thing to do, I Love it!) I would suggest creating a small ‘photo op’ area with these costumes.  Perhaps buy a large captain’s wheel from Toys R’ Us that people can pose with and leave out a polaroid camera for people to take pictures along with lots of extra film and an Adesso photo book for everyone to slip in their picture and sign your guest book.  Create a cute sign (with the compass motif – JL Mould on Etsy has a great stamp) telling your guests to take 2 pictures – one for you and one for them to take home as a parting gift.

Speaking of parting gifts, it is my belief that edible favors are always great ones to receive – especially at the end of the night after drinking;)  And, I am all about personalization.  Do you have a cookie or bar recipe you are famous for?  Anything passed down through you or your fiance’s family?  Gather your girls, your Mom, your Mom-in-law and have a day of baking.  Put the cookies or bars in clear plastic baggies ( and seal with the cute nautical stickers shown on the upper left corner of the inspiration board (from Etsy designer, DetailsDelights).  On the front of the bag, add another sticker that says Thank You and your names and wedding date.  Perhaps DetailsDelights would be delighted to create a personalized one for you that includes a smaller version of the compass.

Hope this helps.  Remember, if the compass isn’t quite what you’re going for, that’s okay.  Just find one or two items that are within your theme and let those be your, well, compass to guide you;)  And, here’s a cute little saying that you could include throughout your wedding if you so choose:  Love is the Compass of Life.

Oh, and as for you being the 1st Mate and your Fiance being the Captain, I suggest making cute signs for the backs of your chairs that say exactly that.

Initial Inspiration Board for Maritime Theme

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5 Responses to “Real Wedding Question: Maritime/Nautical Theme – Fun but not Funny Please”

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  4. Kathy says:

    I really like the ideas here for the nautical theme. The treasure chest will really add some fun and also like the idea of tying in the compass. Wishing you a wonderful nautical wedding.

  5. Vanessa says:

    oh I love the post and the inspiration board. I thought it was ironic that you mentioned using cylinders with orchids in them because that’s what we actually said we wanted to do. I love the idea of using rope or knots also. You can include my name .. Vanessa if you like I have no problem with that.
    I was thinking of having Navy as a color but I also love purple haha so I’ve been torn on colors but I think the Navy goes best with the nautical look , especially since we’re having the Ceremony at the Naval Academy.
    My Fiance really liked the idea of the compass too and you’re right there are many ways to spin that into the wedding , like have an invitation with a compass pointing to love..or the slogan you mentioned. Our Wedding will be a destination wedding for both our families and so I thought that the compass could also play into a map that we could provide into our invitations.
    Thanks so much for your ideas and help~

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