This mermaid has always had one dream – a coastal wedding in New Brunswick.
From the moment we got engaged, I knew we had to get married by the ocean. On August 6th, 2021 my dream came true in beautiful St. Andrews by the Sea at the famous Algonquin Hotel & Resort. Trust me when I say – it was as dreamy as it sounds.
But when planning a coastal wedding, I was also determined for it to not look too beachy or to feel like a mermaid wedding. This wasn’t an East Coast Mermaid wedding. This was about us and all of our favorite things.
Which, yes, include sea breezes, Jimmy Buffet, oyster bars and lobster rolls.
I’m still thrilled about some of the unique ideas and touches we came up with for our special day and I wanted to take a moment to share how we added coastal touches to our wedding day.
First Look at Sea
Let’s start with the real shocker – we wanted wedding photos on the ocean! One of the great things about St. Andrews by the Sea is that there is no shortage of beautiful waterfront locations for photos. And while we had already planned to take sunset photos on the wharf and in the seaside town following the ceremony, it was our first look on Minister’s Island that resulted in some of our best photos of the day.
We chose Minister’s Island because of its uniqueness. It’s a tidal island accessible only at low tide by driving across a rocky bar road. Translation: the ocean floor. That alone made for some fun memories when we drove over to meet up with the boys. To keep things intimate and cozy, we limited our first look to only our wedding party, our photographer Kelly (obviously), makeup artist Joëlle Martin (for touch ups), and my best friend’s husband who chauffeured us ladies over.
Our first look took place on the beach by Sir William Van Horne’s famous bathhouse. If you’ve never been to the bathhouse, this unique stone structure has a gorgeous spiralling staircase down to the rocky beach where Van Horne had a rocky “pool” that would fill each time the Bay of Fundy tide rose. It’s rumoured that Frank Sinatra himself once partied in the bathhouse.
For our first look, I met Dan on the beach after coming down the spiral staircase – can you spot me and the girls on the staircase? We then took a bunch of photos with the blue ocean, the rocks, and the bathhouse in the background before heading back to the hotel for the ceremony.
I can’t stress enough how happy I am we did a first look. It settled my nerves for the rest of the day and getting to see Dan’s reaction when he saw me in my dress, on a beach, surrounded by the ocean and our closest friends was everything to me.
Mermaid Tip: To recreate this exact first look for your wedding, there are a few things to consider. Check the tide times! Low tide lined up PERFECTLY for us to squeeze this in before the ceremony. You’ll want to allow extra time for getting to and from the island and you will need to pay/buy passes to get on the island. We pre-purchased ours so that we could skip the lineup of cars when we arrived.
I mentioned in my post Meet our East Coast Wedding Vendors – Part Two that choosing songs for the wedding was one of my favorite parts! It was important to us to include songs that were special to us as well as including some of our faves. For example, I walked down the aisle to my favorite song by the National – ‘I need my girl’ which is anything but traditional but it was everything I wanted and more.
We were also able to include some coastal touches with our music selections. We’re big Jimmy Buffet fans, so we picked ‘Come Monday’ as the song playing while we were signing our wedding certificate.
After being announced husband and wife, we exited the ceremony to UB40’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love With You’ timed perfectly to the trumpet build-up at the beginning of the song.
And we walked into our wedding ceremony to Styx ‘Come Sail Away.’ It was pretty epic.
One of my favorite coastal touches to our wedding was our custom life preserver! Back in 2020, when we were on Grand Manan for a week, our driftwood friend Wayne had this life preserver hanging in his workshop. He’d found it beach combing and when we realized it said St. Andrews, we couldn’t resist when he offered it to us.
I scratched off the remnants of the boat name it belonged to originally and replaced with some stick on numbers I picked up at Michaels to add our wedding date. We brought this life preserver down to the wharf with us at sunset to use in photos and we used that photo for our thank you cards!
Message in a Bottle
When it came time to think about a “guest book” for our wedding, I wanted to think outside of the box. Instead of having a physical book for guests to leave us messages or a photo frame to sign (both popular options) we gave it a nautical spin.
We had a glass bottle, with little pre-tied and rolled scroll paper for our guests to leave us a message and tuck it in the bottle. Because they would unroll the message and re-roll it to pop it in the bottle, the messages were private. Some made us cry, others made us laugh until it hurt. We had such a great time reading through them when we got back from the wedding.
To recreate this, just find a decorate bottle with a wide enough mouth that you can pop notes in and easily shake them back out. Cut small pieces of twine, small pieces of paper for the note, and boom! Make sure to include a sign to let guests know how to submit their message and have your MC encourage guests to do so throughout the night.
From the minute we got engaged (ok, probably even before that) I knew I wanted an oyster bar at our wedding. I LOVE oysters and over the years, my husband has developed a coastal crush on them too! We also have a lot of friends and family who love oysters, so when I asked the Algonquin about an oyster bar and they said, absolutely – I was thrilled.
Not only was the oyster bar a huge hit – it gave us the perfect photo op. You see, we had opted not to have a wedding cake. Call me crazy, but I was a never a fan of wedding cakes. That said, I still wanted some sort of feeding each other wedding shot. Enter – the oyster bar!
Sure pulling this off was a little sloppy, but we had some great laughs and I love how these photos turned out. It was way more us than feeding each other cake.
Mini Lobster Rolls
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m HIGHLY motivated by lobster rolls. So naturally, we had to include mini lobster rolls as part of our menu. This photograph accurately sums up how excited I was to bite into a mini lobster roll after the most magical day.
In addition to lobster rolls, we served mini seafood chowder, scallops, smoked salmon, and oysters. Of course, we had options for our land lover friends and family, but I know the lobster rolls were a hit!
How could I NOT include seaglass?
We incorporated seaglass into the wedding in two simple ways. First, at the both the wedding ceremony and reception, we had bud vases that I bought at MacKlem House Antiques in St. Andrews holding wildflowers from our florists Peony & Pear. I put a few pieces of seaglass in each bud vase and it looked so pretty!
Second – I needed something blue, right? I made a tiny seaglass pin to tuck into my bouquet with a blue piece of glass that I had picked over the summer. It was perfect!
Dan and I chose to write our own wedding vows (highly recommended if you can pull it off) and of course, I made sure to include a few nautical touches to mine including a reference to the pull of the Bay of Fundy tides. What can I say? I’m a mermaid!
But imagine my surprise, when Dan pulled out of his suit pocket, a piece of dried driftwood holding his vows. Turns out, he’d found this piece of driftwood earlier in the summer while we were on Grand Manan and he’d kept it for our special day.
If you’re writing your own vows, there are many ways you can tastefully include a coastal touch. From references to the depths of ocean to being each other’s lighthouse. Get creative!
Our wedding was anything but traditional, but I am a traditional girl when it was important to me to have my father walk me down the aisle. Of course, that meant we had to find someone special to walk my mother down the aisle. We went back and forth on various options from family members to one of the groomsmen, until it hit us!
My bestie Stefanie’s partner is a Navy Officer and he was in uniform for our big day. It may or may not have been this mermaid bride’s request! Who better to walk my mother down the aisle than a dashing, handsome Navy Officer! Navy Nate – we’ll be talking about your grand entrance for a long time to come!
Driftwood & Oyster Shells
When it comes to decor for a coastal wedding, you’ve got many options from seashells to starfish to netting to driftwood. I was very particular in the look I was going for and didn’t want it to cross a line where it felt too beachy, so we included driftwood (handpicked by us) and sun bleached oyster shells as our centrepieces and decor on tables.
I LOVE how this look turned out and did I mention – this isn’t only classy, it’s absolutely free decor! Thank you, ocean!
When it came time to naming our tables at the reception, I knew this was a great opportunity to add a coastal touch. We were back and forth between favorite beaches, lighthouses, or coastal towns but we kept coming back to one of our favorite Jimmy Buffet songs – ‘One Particular Harbour.’ In it, Jimmy says that everyone has that one, that favorite, harbour in their life. So our tables names were six of our favorite harbours and coves in Charlotte County.
So if you’re adding some coastal flair to your special day, consider using some of your favorite coastal destinations, whether it be lighthouses or islands, as your table names!
And with a splash, that brings us to the end of my three-part coastal wedding series!
If you missed the first two, you can find here:
If you’re a bride-to-be, please reach out if you have any questions about planning your dreamy coastal wedding in New Brunswick. I LOVE to talk weddings!