Easy, Elegant Nautical Party Inspiration

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As an Air Force kid, we moved around a lot.  And we were lucky to be stationed by the ocean several times.  When we were stationed at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, CA, we used to walk down to Cabrillo beach nearly every day in the summer.  We also used to rent sailboats from the base, and go "camping" on the water many weekends.  I haven't done any sailing myself since I was a teenager, but I'm sure I'll always have a fondness for the sea and sand and everything nautical.

That life-long love is what inspired this small wedding inspiration shoot, full of tons of easy DIY elements to make your wedding--or birthday party, or any event--extra special, without having to spend tons of money or even a whole lot of time.  

Using the the tutorials I'll have coming up, you could easily throw a gorgeous, intimate beach wedding for 30 or so people for less than $500, and pull it together in less than a week.  

The lovely thing about an elegant nautical theme is that the raw materials are so inexpensive.  Easy no-sew burlap tablecloths, nautical rope chargers, table runners and napkins in a classic navy stripe--all combine with classic refined elements like china and glass to create a gorgeous, luxuriously layered and textured effect.

My father was not only a sailor, but also an Eagle Scout and a Boy Scout Leader for my brother.  He took knots seriously.    And while I appreciate the clever functions of the different types of knots, I've always been struck by how beautiful they are, too.  Many knots, like the Carrick Mat, don't have to be so gorgeous to fill their intended function, but some sailor long ago decided to create something of beauty that would also fill a need.  I love that, and I knew I wanted to incorporate some decorative sailing knots into the event design.

I'm particularly fond of how I used the rope on the wedding bouquet.

Speaking of the wedding bouquet, guess how much I spent on it.  Go ahead, guess.

$25.  And it took about five minutes to put together.  

I'll have a tutorial for the bouquet with all the details, including how to make the shell accents for the flowers, coming up.

The white bridal bouquet also doubled as a centerpiece for my imagined sweetheart table.

It was a perfect place to perch my seashell table number as well.

Even an extremely inexpensive tablecloth looks on-theme and luxurious when layered with other textured accents.  An inexpensive decorative fishing net, some borrowed seashell garland (it used to be part of one of my mom's macrame plant holders from the 70s!) and a no-sew burlap table runner made the perfect display for the small dessert spread.

I kept the dessert table very simple, because even though I enjoy making elaborate cakes and such, I wanted to stay true to the concept of an easy, truly doable DIY wedding setup.

So the cake is not some masterpiece of sugar that would cost over a thousand dollars from a bakery; instead, it' a charming sandcastle-shaped bundt cake, easily baked in under an hour.

Instead of an expensive purchased cake topper, charming nautical monogram bunting made for less than $1.

Saltwater taffy and sand castle lollipops added a whimsical touch.

Sea Salt caramels (recipe here) make the perfect addition to a dessert table, or favors.  

I love how they look in stamped muslin bags, and they look especially great on the rope tray I made.  I can't wait to show you guys how to make that one.  It's so easy, and it looks so much like a tray I saw at Pottery Barn recently!

I had fun making macarons for the first time for this little party.  I love macarons, and have since I discovered them on our honeymoon in Paris back in 2001 at a little bakery across the street from our wacky hotel.  I only ruined half of them in my first attempt at baking them myself, so I'm feeling pretty good about the project!  Plus, the decidedly sad looking broken ones were still delicious.  ;-)

Cinnamon sand-dollar cookies were surprisingly easy to make, and absolutely delicious.

And of all the sugar cookie designs I've made, I think starfish are the easiest ones to make look really good.

I love the way the escort cards turned out, with their Carrick Bend knots and tiny, real seashells.  

I even dressed up some gifts for the occasion with knotted, nautical flair.  

I decided to make shell-topped ribbon wands (also featuring strands of the thin, iconic twisted cotton rope) in lieu of confetti or flower petals to toss.  The ribbons dance so fancifully in the wind, and are perfect for a breezy beach location.

I love mixing refined elements--like a classic monogram in a serif font--with natural elements.  Like this seashell monogram.  You could easily write "Mr." and "Mrs." in the shells, and hang these on the back of the bride and groom's chair, too.  

I'll have oodles of tutorials coming up showing you how to do everything to recreate this scene, so be sure to come back tomorrow for the start of lots of nautical, crafty fun!

Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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