Windjammer Wedding, Maine Windjammer Cruises
Photos by RusselCaronPhotography.com
Every little girl dreams of their wedding day, some dress up and act it out with friends, others just visualize what it would be like. I had always dreamed that my wedding would take place on an island with all three schooners sailing the guests and me to my big day. First, I would have to find a mate!
As fate would have it, I met the love of my life when I least expected it, at a friend's wedding a few years ago. As the best man, Seth instantly grabbed my attention with his heartfelt speech and dancing charm. That night we sat on the swing set outside of Beaver Lodge and shared stories and he called me everyday thereafter. I thought to myself, how could someone so anchored come into my life? Right away I knew he was "the one". Come to find out Seth also had ties to the water.
A big part of who Seth is comes from his passion and dedication to his work. Seth is a true Mainah'. Growing up in Rockland and inspired by his father, he found an important role in the world of Maine Lobstering as a baitsman.
The lobstermen and the baitsmen are a tight knit community of hard working Mainers. He absolutely loves his work and gets involved in all sorts of fun things like planning and participating in the Rockland lobster boat races each year.
Though the lobster and schooner cultures are very different, they both share one thing in common, hard work and a passion for the sea! When I expressed to Seth my vision to get married on an island, which I might add, was well before our engagement was even a seed in his mind, his only reply was, "sounds good to me, as long as I get to show up on a lobster boat!"
Early the following December Seth and I were engaged on top of Champlain Mountain in Acadia National Park after climbing the rock face Precipice trail.
It was here that the first snowfall of the season began to fall. It was beautiful. We were the only people on the whole mountain and finally I was able to freely share my premature wedding plans and my without embarrassment.
After we were officially engaged we began the planning process. Like most newly engaged couples we started with the guest list and then moved into venues. Nothing matched my dream of an island wedding. One day Seth, my parents, Seth's mom Trish, and I piled into the truck with the Mistress' dinghy, the Tricky Mary and took a ferry trip to Islesboro. We boarded the overloaded Tricky Mary and rowed across to Warren Island. The day was magnificent, absolutely perfect weather for a row and unexpectedly quite warm for March. When we got to the Island I shared the vision yet again, but this time with all the natural beauty of Warren Island at my side. Everybody saw it. Everybody loved it -- Seth especially. From this day forward it was clear that this would be our wedding venue and it would be beautiful.
One day Mom, Dad, and I came up with up an idea for the invitation -- An Enchanted Full Moon Wedding Celebration.
We contacted Evelyn Kok, a local artist of the Purple Fish Gallery in Stonington and she happily accepted the project. Evelyn illustrated the scene perfectly!
Next, and not so easy, was creating the RSVP card. It had to include all the possible scenarios of how people might arrive and depart the island and include possibilities for overnight camping and accommodations on board the schooners and then keeping track of responses. Each part of the planning process had increasingly more and more issues that needed to be tended to, for example electricity, music, chairs, tables, ice - everything had to be transported to and from the island, not to mention all the guests.
The Thursday before the wedding was the big "set up day" that was crucial to the success of the wedding.
The set up crew consisted of good friends and relatives. The dozen of us piled aboard a lobster boat the Instigator, of "Captain Hollywood", Ryan Post, of Maine Buggin'fame.
Armed with chairs and linens, catering equipment, tent and sundries the crew set out for a hard day's work. After innumerable trips from dock to wedding site, which by the way was up a narrow, rooty, uphill path, we finally had everything in place ready to begin setup. Overheated and exhausted and with the unlimited assistance of Warren Island rangers Byron and Sunshine, we set up the 40 X 100 foot tent, candles, centerpieces, rock table placements labeled "unity", "love", "soul mates" and more. Dad with the help of Seth's father, Wyatt, headed up the lighting project which consisted of 24 30-inch illuminate overhead balls hanging by strings from the ceiling of the tent. It looked amazingly different than it had five or six hours before. We were ready! The rest was going to be left to fate and the caterers....
The day of the wedding was much like a dream. I found myself surrounded by so many loved ones and so many dreams come true that it was easy to be comfortable, happy, and most important, present.
The most exciting part of the day was hands down the Day Sail from Camden Harbor to Warren Island.
All three schooners set sail together; the bridal party aboard the Mistress and family and friends aboard the Grace Bailey and Mercantile.
Most remarkable was the moment the schooners met the Instigator and the Starlight Express, lobster boats carrying the groom and groomsman in what was referred to as "the fly-by".
As Seth said, "this has never happened before, and it will never happen again. Schooners and lobster boats coming together like that." Much of the day sail was appetizers and wine over conversation and pictures galore.
Other parts included Kristi and I doing a photo shoot on the bowsprit, with the photographer even leaping from boat to boat.
The ceremony was everything I had hoped for - A mixture of serious and silly, traditional and unique.
It was a full moon at low tide; chairs looked out past the arbor Seth had built, to schooners and lobster boats in the background.
Dad brought me in on the yawl boat with the bridal party waiting on the dock. I knew immediately stepping foot on that beach that my worries of keeping the white dress clean were over as I stepped amid the rocks and seaweed.
During the ceremony Seth and I shared our own vows and put them in a bottle that we had saved from the night we first met and tossed it out to sea. The entire lot of us, guests and all performed a body wave three times around. We sang a favorite choral arrangement of a song before our union was sealed by Camden Harbor Master, Steve Pixley and later notarized by Captain JR Braugh of the Schooner Mercantile.
As we walked up the hill the tent lit up the center of the island with the big gold balls catching your eye.
We enjoyed fillet mignon and lobster tails and buckets of claws.
The cake was delicious and special as a best friend's family made it.
Flowers, candles on rock piles and a huge bonfire added to the ambiance of the prefect full moon night.
Of course there was music and dancing. Even the crew rose to the occasion wearing suits and ties and enjoying the festivities, all the while operating the yawl boat and running the three ships!
The enchanted full moon wedding celebration was the best day of our lives and we owe it all to our parents.
I feel so fortunate to have grown up on these boats and so fortunate that the wedding could incorporate all three schooners and Seth's dream of coming by lobster boat. This experience made our dreams come true. We felt special indeed and most grateful for our parents who supported such a wild idea.
Maine Windjammer Cruises has done plenty of weddings on the boats but this one was the first that incorporated all three boats and an overnight stay on an island. If you, or someone you know is thinking of "tying the knot", I can't think of anyplace better than aboard these magnificent schooners in beautiful Penobscot bay. Oh, and by the way, if you are looking for a wedding planner, just ask Captain Ray because he has a little experience in the "big picture" and extensive experience at "living the dream"!