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Weddings - Wedding Theme Ideas -  Nautical Wedding Ideas

Party Resource Guide
Presented by Event & Wedding Planners

oNautical Wedding Ideaso

Nautical Theme Weddings & Yacht Weddings

Do you love Sailing or just sitting on the dock watching the boats go by.  Why not bring your love of the sea to your wedding day.  Whether you are planning a wedding cruise or getting married on dry land, you can have the perfect nautical day with these ideas from our wedding consultants. Maybe you are going on a cruise for your Honeymoon, a nautical theme wedding and reception would be the perfect way to pull it all together.

Nylon Captains Hat White Plastic Sailor Hat Cloth White Sailor Hat
Nylon Captains Hat White Plastic Sailor Hat Cloth White Sailor Hat

Nautical Theme Wedding Ideas

The key to pulling off a coordinated event: Evoke your theme throughout the affair. Whether that theme is as general as a season or a feeling, or as specific as a special flower, it should be the subtle thread that ties everything together. Your location, invitations, flowers, menu, cake, and favors should all cleverly reflect one common concept. Then, get as creative as you can!

Nautical Motif & Special Touches:

The motif is the visual representation of your theme, which is created by the use of objects or symbols. This symbol may be repeated on your invitations, program, plates, or decorations. Sometimes the use of several different symbols will be used as components of the theme. Develop your motif using a list of words related to the nautical theme. Brainstorm a list to create your pool of ideas. This list is very important for generating ideas that can be applied to all areas of your wedding from the bridal shower to the wedding & reception.

For a Nautical theme you might come up with words like: Seashore, Ocean, River, sand, lighthouses, anchors, rope, driftwood, sailor hats, sailor collars, nautical flags, life preservers, dockside pilings, fishnet, portholes, ship's railing, coral, seaweed, pearls, rocks, bamboo, teak, oak, aquarium, sandcastles, seashells, clams, oysters, starfish, dolphins, fish, lobsters, crabs, pelicans, seagulls, octopus, whales, sharks, sea turtle, charts & maps, Clambake, Fish n' Chips, model ships, waves, water, mermaid, treasure chest, ship's brass lanterns, ship's brass bell, Captain's table bell, compass, binoculars, lobster traps, buoys, decorative glass floats, nautical signs, a Captain standing at the helm figure, harpoon, sundial, message in a bottle, salt water taffy, boats, sails, yachts, sailboats, beach umbrellas, scrimshaw, bamboo torches, barometer, diving helmet, New England, Cape Cod, giant shells, mini sea creatures, assorted sea shells, seashell nut cups, water gossamer and lots more. 

The Mood:

Decide on what atmosphere or mood you want to create. This is where you want to refer back to the list of words you brainstormed. Add words to the list that will portray your mood. 

Incorporating texture will make things look and feel interesting. Using textures will amplify the atmosphere you are creating. A nautical theme might best be suited to cotton & linen fabrics, pearls, wood, sand and shells.


A Nautical Theme offers an incredible number of locations and venues to choose from...beaches, Yacht Clubs, Yacht Weddings, romantic seaside inns, sailboats, sea faring schooners and even luxury, yachts. There are lovely seaside gardens, beautiful fountains, city parks, and romantic rooftops. These locations all share brilliant sunrises and exhilarating sunsets. 


You'll want to select a color scheme that you will use throughout the theme. Two or three colors work well. Colors will make a big impact so be sure they are ones that will complement your theme. For a Nautical theme you might use Red, White, Navy Blue, Sky Blue, Brass, Gold, or Stripes.


The use of nautical wedding flowers has spread from coastal communities to more inland venues where nautical wedding flowers truly are a unique concepts. If you are in an inland community, adopting nautical wedding flowers for your ceremony and reception, this may be different from what your local florist is used too or immediately equipped to handle, but chances are they can easily order the materials and products necessary to come up with attractive and interesting nautical wedding favors and flowers. You may want to use flowers influenced by the English garden style seen in Cape Cod or tropical and exotic flowers like those seen in Key West or other tropical ports. You can use traditional and non-traditional flowers and containers like sea shells, Nantucket baskets, lobster pots, watering cans, buckets & etc.. Bouquets can be bright bold colors to the more traditional soft pastels. Try using:

  • Hibiscus and Alstromeria in a frog shell.
  • Hibiscus, Callas, Freesia, Gerbera Daisies designed in a Spider shell.
  • Calla lilies, Roses, Freesia and Alstromeria in a pink Conch Shell.
  • Other flower chooses might include Hydrangea, Gardenias, Allamanda flowers, Passion Flowers, or a 3ft Banana Trees.
  • Include nautical rope, berries, grasses & sea shells in your arrangements.


Nautical Wedding Attire

Your nautical wedding & reception could be formal, semi-formal or informal  Just make sure you let your guests know your intentions on your invitations. 

For the Bride, you could go with a contemporary wedding gown and a beautiful pearl Headpiece or Veil.

The Groom can either wear a Tux or a Double-Breasted (sailor type) suit. If your going less formal wear blazers with a nautical tie. 

Flower girls can steal the show. They can carry mini bouquets, baskets of flowers or petals, balls of flowers, or a small flower wreath or use containers like: Nantucket Baskets, watering cans, or buckets. Put her in something fun that will work with your nautical theme like a navy blue dress with a white sailor's collar.

Have your ring bearer carry a pillow with and anchor or seashells on top. Dress your ring boy in a navy captain's tuxedo.

Nautical Wedding Invitations:

Consider the style and type of invitations that would coordinate with your theme and convey your feelings to your guests before they even get there.  Whether your wedding will be formal or informal there are invitations to convey your theme.

Add a special touch to you wedding invitations by enclosing some small seashells or tiny starfish.


Nautical Personalized Napkins:

Napkins will serve several purposes … great decorating in disguise and a delightful memento of the party that can be saved in scrapbooks for years to come! 

Show your guests just how much you care by offering Personalized Napkins , that complement your nautical theme. Imprint napkins with a design like: Anchor, Sea Horses, Shells, or other Seaside Elements (Beach Chairs, Boat, Couple on the Beach & etc.

Bring color to the table via cloth napkins. Give each person two napkins slipped into one napkin ring. Use two different colors, two coordinating patterns or one patterned and one solid-colored napkin. A colorful setting can be achieved with little effort this way.

Have your linen rental company fold your napkins in The Sail Napkin Fold.

Napkins can be laid out on a buffet table, or can be displayed at each place setting. Place napkins in the center of each place setting at an angle, or unfold them and place them in glasses for a tall dramatic look. 

Tuck a single flower bud down into a napkin.

Napkins can also be tied and bundled with cutlery. Tie with curling ribbon, gossamer streamers, ric-rac, strings of pearls, beads, ribbon, or a multitude of other items to match your theme, get creative! Try rope, or sea shell necklaces. 


Nautical Wedding Ceremony  Ideas

Looking to get married in a non-religious ceremony but don't just want a Justice of the Peace? Get married at sea by a Ship's Captain?  

Church arrangements may be garden flowers arranged in containers like: Nantucket baskets, watering cans, buckets, vases, urns, etc. or tropical flowers arranged in shells (Conch Shells and Nautilus Shells work well).  

Interlace rope and string pearls into floral rings, swags, floral arrangements & etc. 

Use a life preserver as a ring around the base of a floral arrangement. 

Add Seashells, starfish, sea horses, driftwood, coral & etc. as accents.

The focal point of an outdoor nautical wedding is often a trellis or chuppah. They can be elaborate with flowers or with simply white fabric, blue & white striped fabric or tulle.

Place a brass ship's bell on either side of the altar. You might even have the best man ring it just prior to the bride coming down the aisle.

Decorations for Pews and Chairs can be either formal or simple. They vary from nautical rope and brass anchors interlaced with sprays of greens, to sprays of beach grasses & Caspia. You could also hang Nantucket baskets with Roses on pews or buckets with Hydrangea, Roses,& Gerberas. Accent with strings of pearls, strings of flowers, or any unique idea to enhance your wedding day.

Stairways can be wrapped with nautical rope and greenery or tulle with the addition of sprays of flowers or sea grasses.

Center poles of a tent often need to be covered, Organza, Tulle or Gossamer are good choices for this. Use ship's lanterns for lighting. 

Gazebos can be decorated with nautical rope, brass anchors, greenery, sea grasses and flowers with addition of tulle, blue & white striped fabrics, or nautical prints fabrics.

Wreaths are often used on the Front Door of the Church, above the Altar, and at the entrance to the Reception. They can include elegant flowers, shells, coral, nautical rope, strings of pearls, anchors, sea creatures, and even fruit. 

The sky is the limit, use your imagination to make your Wedding Day unique!

Use bridal accessories such as: place cards, napkins, and favor bags & etc., that can be imprinted with a design like: Anchor, Sea Horses, Shell Collection,  Seaside Elements, Beach Chairs, Couple on the Beach, and other traditional designs.


Nautical Reception Decorating Ideas & Accessories

Use a brass "captain's table bell" to get guests' attention for the wedding toast, first dance, cake cutting, garter tossing & departure of the bride & groom.

Transform your reception area into a nautical scene.

If your budget is low, but your dreams are grand, consider the depth of a giant photo mural. They fill an entire wall, and better yet, they provide guests with the most realistic setting imaginable.

Never under estimate the power of Balloons. They are inexpensive and a great decorating tool. Balloon sculptures can add special touches to your nautical wedding. It may be too expensive to rent a sailboat - but a balloon company can construct one using balloons. Create a stunning Ocean entryway with balloons. The illusion of bubbles can be created by floating clear helium filled crystal latex balloon of various sizes above the ocean. Balloon Clouds are lovely floating over the head table with tulle draped from one cloud cluster to the next. When using balloons as centerpieces, varying the height and color can add depth to any room. Be sure that balloon centerpieces do not obscure the view. And make sure that balloons are secured to the tables with weights. Retrieving balloons from the rafters can be a costly experience!

Use nautical rope barriers to create a walkway or to section off certain areas.

To create a stunning look for an indoor or outdoor wedding reception use lots of Gossamer.  (Gossamer is an inexpensive, extremely light, non-woven "fabric". It drapes and swags beautifully, making it a decorating must-have for creating a number of different, stunning looks! Use it to:

  • Create wonderful ceilings. 
  • It makes beautiful curtains to hide tent poles or ugly walls. 
  • Use it to wrap around columns, banisters and chairs.  
  • Create gorgeous bows for chairs or to accent tables.  
  • Use as an overlay on tables.  
  • Attach Blue Cloud Gossamer to the ceiling to give that outdoor illusion to your guests.  
  • Use Water Gossamer to create a pool of water.
  • Use strings of white bridal lights, twist them together with some Gossamer for a really great look.
  • Create the perfect seaside backdrop with gossamer.
  • Place this Ship’s Rail  alongside blue Theme Water Gossamer, balloons or cracked ice for an ocean illusion!

Place this  Life Preserver Arch at your entrance for a great photo opportunity and welcome area.

Nautical Table Linen Ideas:

At some point during the planning stages of your wedding the subject of linens will arise. When it does stop and think of all the possibilities available to you before you go with standard issue white polyester tablecloths. Remember the tops of the tables provide you with a very large surface area and covering them with a beautiful tablecloth is the easiest way to change the feel of a room.. It is also the most cost effective way to decorate. Ten tables covered with a nautical theme or specialty linen print will make a statement that no white tablecloth can make. 

A nautical theme might best be suited to cotton & linen fabrics.

Linens for a nautical theme might include patterns like: royal blue & white stripe, navy net with silver stars, nautical charts design, coral reefs design, seashell designs, navy or royal blue overlayed with a white chiffon, Oceana a blue & green swirl pattern that resembles the ocean.

Consider a decorative white overlay laced with gold metallic threads atop a sky-blue linen cloth, you now have captured the look of the ocean at sunset!

Have you found a certain linen pattern that you love, but to your disappointment find that the cost is completely out of your budget? Don't Despair! There are many ways to economize, to achieve your look, for less. Here are a few ideas.

  1. Use your favorite linen only on select tables, and use a coordinating, less expensive tablecloth on others. 
  2. Alternate patterns on guest tables, or use your chosen pattern as a focal point on the head table, cake table and other prominent location.
  3. Order napkins or chair sashes in the fabric, and pair them with a complementary tablecloth. 
Bring color to the table via cloth napkins. Give each person two napkins slipped into one napkin ring. Use two different colors, two coordinating patterns or one patterned and one solid-colored napkin. A colorful setting can be achieved with little effort this way.

Centerpiece & Table Accent Ideas

Arrangements for the tables are often determined by the location of the reception. Use arrangements from high elaborate to elegant low arranged in Nantucket baskets, Conch Shells, watering cans, or buckets or just use loose greens and flowers, laid across a mirror, with a votive candle.

Guide guests to their tables by using a brass Ship's Lantern as a centerpiece. For the buffet table, nothing displays more elegance than an ice sculpture.

Use a floral ring interlaced with nautical rope and string pearls around a bubble bowl. Place one or two submersible LED lights in the bottom of the bowl. Fill bowl with cracked ice crystals (available at craft stores) and set a small sailboat on top, or floating candle.

Seashells can be used for table centerpieces, they work great alone or as a centerpiece vase for holding flowers. Two seashells that work well for centerpieces are the Conch Shells and Nautilus Shells. Pearly Nautilus are the very best shell to use as a cake topper, but the nautilus shell requires a stand in order to sit upright. 

If you are using banquet tables, place 3 or 4 square glass vases on the table. Fill with water tinted blue and add 2 or 3 floating candles. Scatter sand, sea glass and shells around the vases.

Use a floral ring interlaced with nautical rope and string pearls. Place a floating candle bowl in the center. Place submersible LED lights in the bottom, fill with water and float small sailboat on top. 

On a gift table you need a container to collect the money envelopes. Use a lobster pot decorated with flowers. Other choices for a nautical wedding might include a lighthouse or decorated Nantucket basket.

Use a life preserver as a ring around a floating candle bowl.

Write name and date of wedding on Sanddollars for guest to take home.

Use seashells and seaglass in bottom of vases and candle holders.

Wrap a Albican seashell with lace to hold the rice or candies.

Use Murex seashell as place card holders.

A spiral cut Trochus seashell works well for holding table numbers.

Place bubble bowl on small-framed mirrors or mirror tiles, add sea glass & assorted shells and fill with water. Float a theme candle in the bowl.

Fill bubble bowls with colored sand with seashells around the edges. In the middle place a large white pillar candle. Add a wreath of flowers interlaced with nautical rope & string pearls around the base. Place card holders could be a picture frame with seashells glued around the outside frame. 

It has become very popular to use small individual wedding cakes on each table as centerpieces. Have your cake design make these little cakes and covered them with real seashells. They look great!

Make a Nautical centerpiece that resembles a cedar wood Dock Piling with a tea light candle holder on top. Use real natural cedar logs. You will need 3 logs (the largest piling should be approximately 6" tall x 4" wide, middle piling 5" x 3", and the smallest 4" x 2 1/2". Drill a hole in the top of each piling just large enough to set a tealight inside. The pilings are then wrapped three times with nautical rope.

Nautical tiles are great as coasters or wall hangings.

There are just so many different things you could do, so just be creative and have fun. This is your (production) you set the stage.


What’s the most important element of the reception? The answer is simple: The music!

Music can make or break the party and finding the best music within your budget should be a top priority. 

A wedding reception is a celebration, not a coffee klatch or a family reunion. Weddings are a time to have fun and celebrate! Music and dancing have always been an integral part of the festivities and today, there’s no excuse NOT to have wonderful music. DJs are affordable and a good DJ can really make a party hop!

Ask your recently married friends and relatives for referrals for good entertainment because weddings are not a time “to let your fingers do the walking…” When you find a DJ or band, etc. you like, ask for references and check them out—because music makes or breaks the party—or should we say the reception.

Of course you will want to have your DJ or band play some appropriate cruisin' kind of music - the kind that hopefully will inspire some dancin' on the upper deck!  We suggest playing Caribbean type music, or maybe a little Jimmy Buffet for starters! Don't forget about the theme song to the infamous Love Boat for a cute and unusual twist!

Nautical Food & Wedding Cake Ideas:

The most logical fare for a Nautical reception would be seafood of any type. Here are a couple of suggestions. Your caterer will be able to offer you more ideas.

Hor d'Oeuvres

Have Hor d'Oeuvres passed by Uniformed Service Staff on Marble Platters garnished with Blossoms.

  • Shrimp cocktail 
  • Wontons with Raspberry & Brie
  • Mini Crab Cakes with Chili Mayo
  • Mushrooms Stuffed with Sundried Tomatoes
  • Lemon Grass Ginger-Glazed Shrimp

Sit Down Dinner: 

  • Flounder with crabmeat stuffing
  • Oven Roasted Sea Bass crusted with pepitas & coriander
  • Angel hair pasta with shrimp and basil 
  • Seafood stir-fry 
  • Black Angus Tenderloin roasted with pepper herb crust, served with Madeira sauce
  • Roasted New Potatoes with lemons & fresh thyme
  • English Cucumbers and crumbled Stilton with a Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Mixed Baby Greens with balsamic poached pears, shaved fennel
  • Pear & Fennel Salad
  • Basket of Rustic Breads & Rolls 
  • Fresh Brewed French Roast Coffee/French Roast Decaf

If you will be serving children at your reception, they have a bit of a different taste when it comes to festive foods, so here are a couple choices for the younger shipmates.

Serve Goldfishtm, submarine sandwiches or sandwiches cut with fish cookie cutters, Doletm Pineapple Fish (they are pre-cut in the can), fish fruit snacks, and sunken treasure nuggets (cheese balls.) 

Try  “Deep Blue Sea Juice”, and you’ll fill the room with “ooohs and aaahs”.  Start by serving blue punch.  After you have placed a filled glass in front of each guest, add some seaweed dust (a few Pop Rockstm candies) to each one. Since this candy is processed with carbon dioxide, it will crackle, pop, and spit when it comes into contact with a liquid.   

Wedding Cake Ideas

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Nautical Links:

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 Theme Parties N More is a wedding & event planning company located in Cypress, TX. Our party & wedding planners have put this website together to provide our visitors with ideas for planning their events, this includes links to products that can help you to make your event extra special. In accordance with the FTC Guidelines we are disclosing that some of the vendors that we link you to, pay us a commission when you purchase products from them, but some of the vendors do not provide us with any compensation.


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Sailboat Tealight Holder Set/4

Sailboat Tealight Holder Set/4

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Theme Gossamer Rippling Water Roll

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