Nautical Wedding on Brownsea Island :: Marie-Claire & Ed

Marie-Claire and Ed love the sea, and with a family connection to both Brownsea Island and Dorset Lake Shipyard, it only made sense to give their wedding a nautical motif. Details we love include: the bride’s heirloom veil made of French lace, the boat tour cocktail hour, and that they cut their cake with a boat propeller! Also, beautiful photos by Tom Redman.


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How about this unique wedding transportation? “I traveled to the church with my dad on a vintage wooden boat,” says the bride. “It was the original post boat that delivered mail to the island when it had many inhabitants pre-1920’s.”


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The Ceremony

“There had only been sixty-six weddings in the little Brownsea Island church since the 1850’s – we were the sixty-seventh!” says Marie-Claire. “You need to have a connection to the island to be able to marry there, and the island has been a special place for my family throughout the years. Ed and I share a love for the sea and enjoy spending time in the water – we love visiting the island and kayaking around it. The night that Ed proposed, we stayed in the Harbour Heights hotel overlooking Brownsea Island, and when we looked out across the harbor the next morning it just felt like the most perfect place for us to get married.”


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How did you go about planning your wedding ceremony?  We did this alongside the vicar, there was a set format but he was very happy for us to add in our own personal touches such as having our friend, Libby, singing while we signed the register. In terms of the service, it was the same as all weddings in the Church of England, part of the Book of Common Prayer.


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Do you have a favorite moment from the day to share?  There are too many to think of one! There is a highlight in every single part of the day right from waking up and swimming in the sea to breakfast in the hotel to getting ready to arriving at the island on the wooden boat and hearing the bells of the church ringing out across the water…all this before we were even married. The moment of walking down the aisle and seeing Ed for the first time is an amazing moment that could never be recreated. Totally magical. Saying our vows. Singing Jerusalem and looking out and seeing all our friends and family in one place…

Ceremony Music:
Processional:The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” by Handel
Recessional: “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles


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The Reception

“Following the ceremony we had our cocktail hour on a boat going around the islands in Poole Harbour which was perfect for us. The reception was at Dorset Lake Shipyard which we arrived at by boat with all of our guests. This has been a business in my family for 75 years – my grandfather and great grandfather started it in 1938, and my uncles now own it and I worked behind the bar for many years when i was 18. So it was the perfect place for our wedding as it was so personal with so much family history. My parents had their wedding reception there as well.”


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What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  The coast. We collected sea glass and driftwood to make the decorations for the wedding. I grew up in the countryside so there was a definite rustic country feel to the wedding as well. I was also inspired by Claire Pettibone‘s bohemian style. I knew I wanted a wedding dress that was a bit different and it took me a while to find it. I tried on some lovely dresses but they felt too formal and I could hardly move in some of the very structured ones. I knew as soon as I put on a Claire Pettibone dress that she was the designer for me – I just felt like me in it, just felt so right.

Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  So many traditions! I wore a veil that has been passed down through the family. It is made of Parisian lace, and my great aunt who turned 100 last year wore it first in the 1930’s. My grandmother then wore it and then my cousin.  //  The boat yard where we had the reception has been in the family for 75 years and is still in the family today, and my parents had their reception there in the 1970’s.  //  We cut our cake with a propeller of a boat that was polished and given as a gift to my grandparents on their wedding day to cut the cake, it has the words “Good Luck” engraved on it. My brother and sister-in-law used it to cut their cake in 2012 and we carried on the tradition using it in the boat yard where it was originally made.


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Please tell us about any special details from your wedding.  It was a very homemade wedding. My mum hand made so many things, she is brilliant at calligraphy. She made the invitations, the order of services, the table cloths and napkins and paper pompoms and even her own dress! We did the reception flowers ourselves with help from Ed’s mum and family and friends with locally grown flowers and my godmother did the flowers at the church. I made driftwood sailing boats for table names, sea glass peppermints as favors, and I made our cake.

First Dance Song: “Bonfire Heart” by James Blunt

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Take a moment in every part of the day to just focus on that part without thinking about what is going to happen next. This really helped the day sink in for me and helped to stop it going by in a blur. I would take a breath and say to myself “Absorb…absorb.” My dad then said to me just before we entered the church, “Wait…what’s the word you’ve been saying?” so we could absorb the moment together. It definitely worked!

What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding?  Keep calm and keep laughing. Keep in mind what is really important for the day and don’t worry about things you may have missed or forgotten. As my sister-in-law said to me, if you haven’t thought of it then it isn’t that important for you for your day.


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Vendor Credits

Photography: Tom Redman / Church: St. Mary's Church, Brownsea Island in Poole, England / Reception Venue: Dorset Lake Ship Yard in Dorset, England / Dress: Midnight by Claire Pettibone / Shoes: Monsoon /  Suit: TM Lewin / Shoes: Ted Baker / Bridal Bouquet: Flower Power / Music: Craig Alexander, BB3 Evening Band / Catering: Lake Yard Club / Transportation: Greenslade Pleasure Boats


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