Andrea & Jim's nautical literary adventure wedding

By on Jan. 4th
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Photos by Chris Dillon

The Offbeat Bride: Andrea, Teacher/Sailor (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Jim, Helicopter engineer/Sailor

Date and location of wedding: X-pier, Westhaven Marina, Auckland — January 26, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our wedding was held on the deck of my husband's sailboat, Island Prism. We met when Jim was sailing through Tonga, and since then Prism had become the third member of the relationship. We had many fantastic adventures with her in Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia, and had big plans for the future, carrying on with Jim's circumnavigation of the world by sailing through Vanuatu and South East Asia! So when Jim proposed, using the boat as our wedding venue made sense on many levels!

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We are also both bookworms, so when we came across The Library, a book-themed bar and restaurant which was the perfect size for our small wedding, we jumped at the chance. We decided to walk from the ceremony to the reception in the Viaduct. This saved money and let us make the most of the great waterfront setting of the Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter. It also gave us lots of spontaneous fun, especially when Jim's brother Bill found a piano under an old silo, and unexpectedly launched into Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." It was a wonderful unofficial first dance!

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We were on a budget (anything spent on the wedding would decrease our cruising funds), so I used my creative powers and a whole bunch of inspirational sources (thanks Offbeat Bride Tribe!) to make as much as I could, from the bouquets and buttonholes (paper roses), to the table names (messages in bottles) and table runners (paper hearts cut from maps and charts interspersed with photos of us together).

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Jim's brother Bill put together a slideshow of photos of our adventures together, which played through the reception on a big screen we borrowed from school, and we put together the music ourselves, including, of course, lots of songs about sailing. The Library let us bring cakes which doubled as wedding cakes and dessert. Mum baked her famous fruit cake, I made my famous brownie, and we had a pair of sharks as cake toppers — they seemed like great cake defense as well as being adorable! We have now turned our wedding venue into our honeymoon home and have made it through Indonesia!

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Tell us about the ceremony: All our friends were waiting on the boat, which Jim had varnished and polished to perfection. He had built a set of steps to help everyone hop on board. I walked down the pier with my dad to Delibes "Flower Duet."

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I was so excited that I gave Jim a kiss when I got to the bow, where we were to take our vows, then realised that I had jumped the gun and that bit was meant to come at the end! Our celebrant had written a beautiful account of how we met and how are relationship developed, and then my Mum read from "Corelli's Mandolin."

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We exchanged rings, had the official kiss, and signed the wedding register with our brothers as witnesses. We cracked open some bottles of bubbly — the boys had a great time trying to see who could shoot the corks farthest into the harbour — and messed around on the boat for photos. Everybody had fun, nobody fell in, and Jim and I were so happy we could have floated away without the help of the boat.

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Our biggest challenge: The biggest challenge was distance. As a helicopter maintenance engineer, Jim works large parts of the year in Canada and Australia. However, we were both keen for him to be involved in the preparations. Many hours were spent emailing ideas, website links and inspirational photos to him, and chatting on Skype about what we both wanted. Some decisions were easy, others less so, but we pulled it off together and, although by necessity I had to do most of the leg work and all of the crafting, we both feel that our wonderful wedding day represented both of us.

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My favorite moment: The whole day was meaningful, and full of fun and love. But the most meaningful moment had to be the ceremony itself, and in particular the exchanging of vows. It was what the whole day was all about: we told each other we loved each other and made our promises for the future; to love and support each other in achieving our dreams together. It was also extra special having some of our family and friends there — my family live in England, and Jim's are in Vancouver Island, so we rarely get to see them.

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My funniest moment: The whole wedding was a lot of fun! Tearing Jim away from all the people who wanted to buy him a congratulatory beer on our walk from Westhaven to the Viaduct was pretty amusing — we would never have gotten to the reception if he'd had them all.

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Then there was the reception music, which we had carefully saved on memory stick — and then left on the boat. A friend had to talk his way out of a sticky situation with marina security when he went back to retrieve it and was caught with no marina code, a laptop bag and a silver ladies' handbag. When he was finally released and got the music to us, it was time for dancing, but the computer decided to blend both the dinner and dancing playlists, leading to our friends creating a beautiful piece of interpretive ballet to Enya's "Caribbean Blue."

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was worried about a few friends and family members who didn't really know anybody. As it happened, everybody bonded brilliantly and all loved each other — we knew our loved ones were really cool people, but it was great to hear them say the same about each other! My hours spent designing a seating plan were wasted because they all sat wherever they liked, and had a brilliant time playing with the centerpieces (pirate patches, hearts on wires, and the occasional toy sea creature).

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: The heart of the wedding is the important thing. I spent ages worrying that people would hate the music we'd picked, think the decoration was lame, not want to get on a boat… At the end of the day we had a bunch of little things go wrong, and nobody cared — nobody noticed the music screw up, or that we forgot to hand out bubble mixture, and nobody minded that we spent most of the day running late — but everybody commented on the fun, love, joy and laughter that permeated the day. And surely that is what the day was all about.

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On a more organisational note: don't be afraid to delegate. The little things that went wrong were inevitably the things we were going to try to do ourselves on the day. Get everything where it needs to be the day before, or, if it has to be done on the day, get someone outside the wedding party to do it — they will probably be delighted you asked.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The wedding planning reinforced the importance of good communication and having patience and understanding. The wedding itself was a wonderful reminder of the importance of friends and family to me.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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