16 Ideas To Inspire Your Nautical Wedding

Considering a seaside ceremony or a destination wedding? We've got all the tips and tricks for your nautical decor.
by Andrea Fowler

Whether you're thinking about an intimate ceremony in the sand or a full-on beach bash, take note of these nautical wedding decorations. From themed invitations to beach decor and favors, there are so many ways to incorporate sailing motifs and seafaring elements in the chicest of ways. Get inspired by some of our favorite ideas below.

  1. 1. Customized Invitation Suite

    White and navy nautical invitation suite
    photo by Flora + Fauna

    Inform your guests to the theme of the celebration by adding a custom logo or motif to your stationery set, like a piece of rope tied in a sailer's knot, an anchor, a helm (ship's steering wheel) or a lighthouse. If your wedding is going to involve traveling, consider adding in some local-specific information, like transportation and hotel suggestions, restaurants and activities for down-time.

    From: A Nautical Waterfront Wedding at Osprey Point Inn in Rock Hall, Maryland

  2. 2. Bride and Groom Beachwear

    Blue linen groom's suit and strapless bridal gown
    photo by Anthem Photography

    A low-fuss bohemian dress is a great option for keeping things light and breezy. If a ball gown is what you're after, opt for an A-line silhouette, which makes the overall look a little more casual. For the groom, a short sleeve button-down is casual, but stylish when paired with nautral dress pants.

    From: A Natural, Vintage Inspired Wedding at Olowalu Plantation House in Maui, Hawaii

  3. 3. Shoe Drop-Off Zone

    Beach wedding shoe drop off zone
    photo by Nemus Photography - Nichole Lockman

    If you think guests might be wobbling around in their high heels or getting too much sand in their formal shoes, offer the options of flip flops on the beach.

    From: A Lakefront Backyard Wedding at a Private Residence in Tahoma, California

  4. 4. Beach Wedding Program

    Beach wedding program idea
    photo by The Harris Company

    If you added a fun nautical motif to your stationery, include it on other paper items throughout your wedding day. The ceremony programs, escort cards and menu cards are all opportunities to personalize the dècor. 

    From: A Modern Nautical Wedding at Newport Beach House in Middletown, Rhode Island

  5. 5. Wedding Arch

    Beach wedding arch decor with linen fabrics and seashells
    photo by Creative Imaginations Photography

    You don't want any decor that will distract from the gorgeous waterside views, so think about what you can add to complement the scenery. A beachy arch, for example, adds a bit of charm and gives a sense of space to an outdoor area. Frame your vows with an arch made from linen fabrics and seashells.

    From: A Blush and Gold Nautical Wedding at 'Tween Waters Inn Island Resort in Captiva Island, Florida

  6. 6. Waterside Reception

    Long reception tables on beach with blue decor string lights
    photo by Kristi Midgette Photography

    There aren't many decorations you can bring in that rival Mother Nature's beautiful scenery, so roll with the surroundings and let them take center stage—opt for a color palette that compliments the blue waters, sandy shoreline and natural grasses. If you have an open-air venue, it's always a good idea to have a plan B just in case the weather doesn't cooperate. Ask your planner about tent options or indoor spaces close by.

    From: A Nautical, Beach Wedding at a Private Home in Corova, North Carolina

  7. 7. Nautical Escort Cards

    Light blue anchor escort card idea for a nautical wedding
    photo by J Photography by Jessi Caparella

    Cast a fishing net over a fence or a couple posts to create a one-of-a-kind escort card display. And with all those strong waterside winds, it's one of the most stable options, too. 

    From: A Coastal Chic Wedding at the Drop Anchor Resort in Islamorada, Florida

  8. 8. Under-the-Sea Decor

    Nautical reception table decor with coral, a starfish and empty bottle
    photo by J Photography by Jessi Caparella

    Dress your table with unique elements like sea glass, driftwood, seashells or starfish. For the centerpieces, try to keep them low and lush so they're not blocking any views. You could even get crafty with your floral arrangements and incorporate beach grass or sand-filled bottles for an authentic picnic-on-the-beach vibe.

    From: A Coastal Chic Wedding at the Drop Anchor Resort in Islamorada, Florida

  9. 9. Anchor Table Settings

    Table setting with blue napkin tablecloth and anchor detail
    photo by Leila Brewster Photography

    Light grey table cloths act as the perfect neutral to pair with nautical blue hues like navy and turquoise. For added fun, include a crossword puzzle at each place setting filled with sailor-speak so guests can test their seafaring knowledge while waiting for dinner. There's countless terms to choose from, like helm, stern, boom, bow and starboard.

    From: A Nautical Wedding at Riverside Yacht Club in Riverside, Connecticut

  10. 10. Unique Table Numbers

    Nautical table numbers with a sailor's knot
    photo by B Hull Photography

    Get creative with your table numbers. Framed sailor's knots is a great way to test your guests' nautical knowledge and it's a fun swap for the typical numerals. 

    From: A Coral and Navy Nautical Wedding at Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey

  11. 11. Passed Apps

    Mini lobster rolls on tray with navy flag toothpicks
    photo by Jenny DeMarco Photography

    Would a nautical wedding be complete without some seafood? Since crab cakes and lobster rolls are usually made with sauces and seasonings, they tend to be an approved middle ground for those people who shy away from "fishy" food. Get local with your passed plates and adorn the appetizers with a little flag telling where the seafood was caught.

    From: A Four Seasons Hotel Wedding in Austin, Texas

  12. 12. Raw Food Bar

    Fresh oyster raw bar for a beach wedding idea
    photo by Brooke Mayo Photographers

    One of the perks of hosting a seaside celebration is the access to fresh seafood. Since you won't have to splurge on high shipping costs, think about having a small raw bar that can feature light bites that were caught day-of. 

    From: A Casual, Backyard Beachside Wedding at Sanderling Resort in Duck, North Carolina

  13. 13. Nautical Signage

    Funny beach wedding sign
    photo by Limelife Photography

    Don't forget to have fun with your theme! Adding a few pieces of punny signage by the bar area or a food bar can go a long way. They can also be staged for fun photo-ops too. 

    From: A Nautical Military Wedding at The Crossings in Carlsbad, California

  14. 14. Active Entertainment

    Cornhole game with seafoam and gray paint and anchor
    photo by Katie Nesbitt Photography

    If you're on the beach, why not get your guests on the beach! Expand the party perimeters by arranging games like horseshoes or corn hole on the sand. Then when the sun goes down, a bonfire and s'mores is the perfect alternative for guests who want to take a break from the dancing.

    From: An Osprey Point Wedding in Rock Hall, Maryland

  15. 15. Wedding Cake Details

    Three tiered white wedding cake with navy anchor and rope knot
    photo by Limelife Photography

    Celebrate your new initials with a simple monogrammed cake adorned with a playful fondant rope... tied in a knot of course! Or if you want something less sailor-y and more beach-y, ask your baker to create a serene scene of waves with soft ombre ruffles.

    From: A Nautical Military Wedding at The Crossings in Carlsbad, California

  16. 16. Sweet Favors

    Saltwater taffy wedding favors in pink striped bag
    photo by Brooke Schultz Photography

    Yes, saltwater taffy. Could this be any more appropriate? Display taffy-filled candy bags in an antique chest for a grown-up "treasure chest," or create a serve-yourself candy bar with labeled apothecary jars. Unlike heat-sensative chocolates or other sweets, taffy won't melt and make a mess, so for the most part you can let it be after it's all set up and turn your attentions elsewhere. (And germophobes will appreciate the individual wrappings.)

    From: A Wadley Farms Wedding in Lindon, Utah

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