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A Shore Thing // The Nautical Wedding Theme

ocean shoreline as seen from drone video
bride and groom standing beside lifeguard boat in sand
bride and groom sitting on the dock in front of their venue

As we endure the bitter cold and bleakness of another winter season here in the mid-Atlantic, we can’t help but think back and pine for those sunny, summer weddings and all the lovely summery wedding themes. And as we're fairly close to the shore here in New Jersey, one of the biggest themes we see often and love so much is the nautical or beach theme.  Really, the nautical theme can be used for weddings taking place in all seasons and in all locations. But a wedding on an actual beach or at a coastal location venue is always extra spectacular!

bride and groom entering the beach sand
luxury boat arriving at wedding reception
bride and groom enjoying champagne on luxury boat

We've had the pleasure of filming weddings in so many coastal towns, from the sunshine state of Florida up to New England's Newport, Rhode Island. But of course, most of our beach or bayside weddings take place here in New Jersey. We can't possibly list all of our favorites, so here's just a handful of the most perfect venues we've visited if you want a beautiful, nautical setting for a wedding in New Jersey:

aerial view of mallard island yacht club

Located right on the Barnegat Bay, Mallard Island Yacht Club boasts unbeatable views from every direction. This venue has a gorgeous, penthouse bridal suite onsite that encompasses an entire floor, and a separate rustic groom's shack for the guys. Say your 'I do's' by the stone fireplace in the bright and airy boathouse chapel and dance the night away in the glamorous grand ballroom.

bay head yacht club

Another bayside resort venue with amazing nautical charm is Bay Head Yacht Club, situated right on the Bay Head Harbor on Barnegat Bay. Burgees and navy blue trophy flags decorate the walls of the expansive clubhouse ballroom, while gauzy white fabric and string lights drape from the vaulted ceiling. Right across the harbor sits the Dale House, their boathouse ready for a sea breeze swept ceremony. Then, take their luxury boat back to the clubhouse for your reception.

the reeds at shelter haven

The Reeds at Shelter Haven is a gorgeous boutique hotel located right on the bay in Stone Harbor. And that coastal chic vibe is found all throughout this all-inclusive wedding resort! The bride and her bridal party are welcome to get ready in the bright and beautiful Bridal Boutique in the Salt Spa. Then, have everyone head outside to the bayside lawn for the perfect, sunny outdoor ceremony location. Or if you prefer, choose the ballroom for your vows or get married right on the beach! "Inspired by the sea", the Sweet Grass Ballroom is also ready to host your fabulous, beachy reception, and you can keep the party going late into the evening in their Crew Room next door!

aerial view of clarks landing yacht club

Point Pleasant is lucky to have this newly renovated wedding venue, just a five minute drive from the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. This Jersey Shore location has the perfect mix of glamour and relaxed, coastal vibes, nestled right on the serene Manasquan River. And they even have a new glass-enclosed ceremony space, a spacious room offering panoramic views available year-round!

bride and groom at congress hall

Congress Hall is an iconic and truly grand, historic hotel and event space in the lovely, Victorian seaside town of Cape May. Situated oceanfront, this luxurious resort offers an elegant ballroom, as well as a gorgeous lawn space for tented ceremonies and receptions. And the sand is just steps away for those amazing beach photo shoots!

bride and groom first dance at wedding reception

At both shore town locale weddings and at weddings not quite oceanside, nautical décor always projects a fresh, summery and casual feeling. And its eternal popularity makes it easy to find at every home décor store! Some coastal chic theme decoration ideas for any venue include:

  • incorporating a blue and white color palette

  • filling the venue with fresh hydrangea blooms

  • adding seagrass baskets

  • decking the walls with maritime signal flags

  • arranging pampas grass table centerpieces

  • embellishing with shells, driftwood and starfish

  • dressing tables with sand filled hurricane vases and candle holders

  • applying rope accents

floral table centerpiece with shell design table number

Keep in mind, you probably don't want to go too 'over the top' with your coastal wedding theme. Stylish and chic beach or nautical weddings simply invoke a relaxed, seaside resort feeling and have a more subtle coastal vibe. Be careful to choose just a few nautical inspired décor items if you want to be sure your wedding remains upscale and classic, and not too 'themey'.

starfish hair clips in bride's hair

Again, with our office location here relatively close to the eastern shore, naturally we’ve filmed many weddings at beach locations and/or those with nautical themes.  One that always springs to mind is a gorgeous wedding that took place a few years ago in Cape May, New Jersey.  

Our kindhearted and carefree clients Nichole and Alex, had the most perfect nautical themed wedding at The Grand Hotel.  Nichole’s bridesmaids wore bright aqua gowns, perhaps a nod to those Cape May Victorian colors.  Nichole wore tiny jeweled starfish clips in her hair, while Alex wore a summery linen suit and sandals.  Perfect attire for a beach wedding!

shoes optional sign at beach wedding
guests toss small beach balls as bride and groom walk up aisle

So much about their wedding was in keeping with their beach theme.  Their ceremony took place in the sand by the the rolling ocean waves.  A sign at the boardwalk let guests know that shoes were optional and complimentary flip-flops were provided for guests walking across the sand to their seats.  An apropos sand ceremony was performed before the vows and as Nichole and Alex walked back up the aisle, their guests tossed small beach balls to celebrate!  

starfish and shell table centerpiece at wedding reception

After photos were taken by the lighthouse and along the boardwalk, the reception started across the street from their beach ceremony at The Grand Hotel, where centerpieces included sand-filled baskets adorned with starfish and seashells.  This couple did not miss any opportunity to link back to their fantastic nautical theme!

bride and bridal party in robes on the beach before wedding

And be sure to click the links to see these three weddings we very recently filmed at amazing New Jersey shore venues, Congress Hall, Bay Head Yacht Club and The Reeds at Shelter Haven! We're sure you'll love their gorgeous yacht and beach club vibes!

bride and groom walking on beach at sunset

A nautical themed wedding is one of the easiest and most fun design ideas to choose.  There are so many nautical decorations found on the market and DIY project ideas to incorporate.  If you’re planning a nautical or beach themed wedding, be sure to check out the shore weddings we've filmed and keep some of these accessory and décor ideas, as well as the wonderful nautical-inspired venues, in mind for your own wedding!


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