There are few things in our wedding-filled world we love more than a nautical-themed soiree in a quaint, seaside town. And when it’s done beautifully on a tight budget? Swoon. Held at the historical Eolia Mansion at Harkness Memorial State Park, the bride and her crafty mom infused the fête with navy + white stripes, burlap runners and sweet seaside touches. Alison Lassiter Photography captured the day perfectly, and you can see it all here!

From the Bride… When John and I met on a warm September night in Mystic, Connecticut, I knew instantly that he was the man I would marry. He asked me out to dinner, and the rest is history. Over the next several years, we spent as much time as possible in this laid-back seaside area where John spent his summers as a kid. It was clear that there was no other place for our wedding.

Our intention was to create a heartfelt celebration with the easy elegance and warmth of a party at someone’s home. To that end, we infused the many neutral spaces of Eolia Mansion with our own style. Our aesthetic was casual elegance with a classic, preppy vibe, inspired by a piece of navy blue and white striped grosgrain ribbon, which we incorporated into everything from the cake to the galvanized tins filled with fresh potted herbs as part of the handcrafted centerpieces. The décor was 100% DIY, as traditional floral centerpieces did not fit our budget or the clean look that I envisioned. My very talented and patient mother signed on as decorator and made even my vaguest DIY idea a reality. We scoured vintage and discount stores for lanterns, candles and understated nautical touches. When we couldn’t find something that we liked, we found a way to make it. One example is the oversized chalkboard and several smaller chalkboards that my mom and her friends made using chalkboard paint and inexpensive molding on a budget of just a few dollars. Among my favorite DIY touches were the table runners of classic seersucker sewn by my aunts, alternated with burlap runners and table toppers on round and long tables of different sizes. I aimed for simplicity in everything from the lack of embellishment on my gown to the simple bridesmaid bouquets wrapped in burlap and tied with ribbon. Some aspects of wedding planning took a ton of time, while others were surprisingly effortless. When I couldn’t find jewelry that felt right for the big day, I found the perfect vintage necklace and earrings within moments of walking into an antiques shop in my hometown.

My advice to any bride is to have fun with wedding planning and to make it your own, which can be done without spending a fortune. Two purely fun details that I am happy that we included were our pink Razzle Dazzle champagne cocktails and a big wire basket filled to the brim with ’80s-style sunglasses for our guests to rock on the dance floor. There was not a single leftover pair! One of my favorite moments of the day was sneaking away to exchange a pre-wedding love note with John. This “first look without the look” was the sweet suggestion of our incredible photographer, Alison Lassiter, because we were adamant about not seeing each other prior to walking down the aisle. Sharing that moment with my soon-to-be husband and holding his hand in the last hour before we were married was incredibly special. We were married in the same little town where we had met five years earlier, and it was every bit as magical as we hoped it would be.

Wedding Photography: Alison Lassiter Photography / Reception: Eolia Mansion at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Connecticut / Bouquets + Boutonnières: Green Dahlia / Centerpieces + Mansion Décor: DIY / Catering: Culinary Concerts / Wedding Invitations + Programs: Minted + Programs Designed by a Bridesmaid / Cocktail Hour Music: Jerrod Cattey Trio / Lanterns + Galvanized Tins: IKEA + Home Goods / Wedding Dress: Pronovias / Alterations: Lucy Tailors / Bride’s Jewelry: Vintage via Remember When / Hair + Makeup: Red Door Spa Groton / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J.Crew / Maid of Honor’s Sash: Etsy / Groom’s Suit, Groom’s Shoes + Groomsmen Ties: Macy’s

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