Love on the High Seas: A Pirate-Theme Wedding

Some time ago, Jessica dropped a note in our inbox about her pirate theme wedding … and painted a vivid picture right off the bat:

“I’m 22 years old, and got married in early July (on the hottest day of the year). Now, my wedding wasn’t a lavish $20,000 event. My budget was so low, I don’t even know what it was! I was my own wedding planner. I searched endlessly online for deals and creative ideas. I even managed to find the dress — you know, “The One” — on eBay for a mere $125.

“In the beginning I wanted the traditional wedding. I had some ideas about earthy seafoam greens and browns. But about a month after trying to figure out how to throw this all together, I got fed up. In fact, I pleaded with my fiancée to just marry me in Las Vegas.

“In the end I found out he wanted a large wedding … even more than I did. But he also wanted a themed wedding. And somehow, and I don’t know how, he convinced me to have a pirate-themed wedding.” This, she admits, after he initially pushed for a circus and then a superhero theme.

“It actually turned out rather beautiful.”

First the Courtin’; Then the Marryin’

“I bought 200 plastic sand art bottles with corks for $118. And we designed and printed out our own little treasure maps. I spent endless hours burning the edges, for realism. Then we rolled them up, tied them with gold ribbon and tucked them in the bottles.For invitations, Jessica created some of the cutest messages-in-a-bottle we’ve ever seen. And luckily for us, she shares exactly how she did it.

Finally, we sealed the cork with gold wax, and stamped the top with an “S.” Really, our guests were delighted when they got them.”

What’s more, she says, they actually mailed these invitations directly in the bottle, with “To” and “From” labels attached. “The post office allows it,” she said. “I had no clue we could do this, but my mother-in-law tipped me off.” (Editor’s note: this is where purists can really see the advantage in plastics.)

“I think it all worked out to about $.60 a bottle,” she says. “We saved a lot of money doing it this way.” But, she admits, after the twentieth one (out of 200!), the process became a pain. “Printing, burning the edges, sealing, stamping … yikes.”

One Fab Day

Droppin’ Anchor at Home

Bill and Jessica, who hosted the event in their own backyard, couldn’t have dreamed up a better venue, with their spacious yard, lush tropical landscaping, and weathered solid board fencing, oh-so-reminiscent of an island oasis. “We’d looked around for other places, but I just wanted a place where we were in complete control. “We were lucky enough to have a large yard.”

Saucy Wenches & Stylin’ Swashbucklers

Still, not everything ran according to plan (“as we headed to the ceremony, I think we both had thoughts of just driving right on to Mexico,” says Jessica, who needed some last-minute hair and dress tweaks), but when they arrived, most things fell into place. Including the world’s most adorable ring bearer.

“I wanted the ring bearer to be Peter Pan, and the flower girls to be little Wendys, dressed in white nightgowns. Actually, they ended up being little Tinkerbells.

Bill, of course, wore a pirate costume custom-made for the occasion. “It turned out beautiful.” Jessica had her dress custom-fitted by the seamstress who made Bill’s costume, and ordered a matching veil.

Okay, but what about the guests? The bridesmaids? The (erk) mothers-in-law? Did they play along?

Indeed, says Jessica. The invitations mentioned that dress-up was an option … and pointed out that the bride and groom would be really glad if they did. “Most people loved the idea,” she said, recalling that a lot of male guests took to classic pirate costumes complete with billowing ruffles, cuffed boots, headscarves and magnificent three-cornered pirate hats. While some donned rentals, others showed up in lovingly-handmade outfits.

“Two men came as islanders, and women mainly dressed as wenches. Of course, not everyone warmed to the idea right away. It took a while to talk the mothers into dressing like wenches.

“But in the end, we did.”

100 Layer Cake

Trickin’ Out Me Timbers

Once they’d agree to a pirate wedding, the couple settled on a color scheme of black, red and gold. They draped the romantic fencing with wide swags of red and gold tulle, covered the tables with red and black, and punctuated the corners with swaggering skull-and-bones pirate balloons.

They dressed the arch with swags of red roses, and the wedding party proceeded down a white runner strewn with red rose petals. (“Though it would’ve been nice to find a red one,” muses Jessica.)

“Bill picked the music,” she adds, “and the wedding party walked out to ‘Love Story’ from the Princess Bride.

Later on, after the party started, the DJ played ‘I’m a Believer’ — the Shrek version.”

Then I saw her face (ha-ha)
Now I’m a believer (listen)
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I’m in love
(Ooh, ahh, yeah)
I’m a believer
I couldn’t leave her if I tried …

“No one warned me … but the kids sure loved it.”


“I, Mad Dog Bill Take Ye, Saucy Jessica As Me Heart, Me Soul, Me Good Wench.”

We had to bring up the tricky subject of vows. After all, Elvis Vows are one of the main attractions at certain Las Vegas chapels. Were we talking pirate vows, with lots of “Yars!” and “Ahoy, mateys”?

“Actually, Bill did want them,” says Jessica. “But I wanted real ones. Our roommate tracked down some pirate vows, and they really were funny, but I wanted this one part to be serious.

“It was our roommate, ordained online, who performed the ceremony. I wasn’t sure if I could find a normal minister to do a pirate wedding,” she laughs.

Style Me Pretty

… And a Bottle of Rum

Sometimes the greatest magic in theme weddings lies in the smallest touches: the witty favors, the movie-set food. Needless to say, this wedding was full of them.

“We focused on finger food. For example, we served lots of kebabs. Like, maybe 400 kebabs, with five different kinds. And we had tropical fruit, and chocolate fountains.”

Her sister-in-law came through with the perfect centerpieces … and even made them herself. “We had small chests filled with jewels on planks of wood that we scattered with sand. And next to these, we placed miniature galvanized pails we filled with three types of mini liqueurs — Jack Daniels for me (I’m a Tennessee girl), tequila for him (he’s Mexican), and Captain Morgan for the theme.

“Everyone loved the mini bars.”

That Takes the Cake

The really tricky part, says Jessica, was finding the cake topper. “It was tougher than I expected,” she said. “Everyone said, ‘try eBay,’ and believe me, I did, but I wasn’t having any luck.

“I spent three solid days looking for that figurine. I asked at Yahoo! Answers and everything.

But I finally found the topper I wanted on Ebay after all — only it was called ‘The Captain and His Lover,’ and the word pirate was nowhere to be found,” she sighs. Still, it was totally perfect.

Set Sail, and On Toward Morning

So, does the couple have anything else to share with other lovebirds hitting the high seas of romance?

“Actually, I don’t suggest that anyone ever plan their own wedding,” laughs Jessica. “It’s so much harder then I expected.

“Still, at the end of the day, we were happy with how it came off. Everything cooled off when the sun went down, and people were eating and drinking — clearly enjoying the dance music the DJ played. In fact, the whole thing went on until midnight.” Blackbeard, Captain Hook and most other infamous roisterers would approve.