Wedding Planning

Subtle Nautical Wedding Details

Plenty of brides love nautical, but don’t want to go overboard (I couldn’t resist) with primary colors and overdone elements. Here’s how to keep it subtle.

Love the preppiness of modern nautical weddings?  You’re not alone. Today’s nautical weddings are elegant, sophisticated, and restrained. 

When designing your refined nautical wedding, first consider your color palette. Navy and white is a classic go-to combo. Simply add in another color, such as coral (above) or red (below). If you want to avoid a really bold color palette make sure to choose a muted red and only use it for ‘pops’ of color here and there through your decor.

Another subtle technique to incorporating your nautical theme is to use a recurring symbol throughout your decor that blends well into the background. For example, this button mum boutonniere features a sweet nautical knot (below).  It looks masculine and seamless with the rest of the wedding decor.

If you decide to use knots as your symbol, you can also find a few statement places to display them to tie everything together. These two cakes below are gorgeous. While each feature a different palette, both cakes are terrific examples of giving a nod to your wedding theme without screaming, ‘Ahoy, matey!’


Mini flags are another nautical detail that incorporates easily. If your nautical theme focuses on travel or you are planning on honeymooning somewhere exotic, use maps (above) to decorate your cupcakes.  On the other hand, if your nautical theme is representative of your surroundings or venue (for example, a harbor or yacht club), use a preppy symbol like an anchor or life preserver with your monogram or names (below).

Some brides think that a nautical wedding tablescape has to involve things like sand and seashells and fishing net runners (and they can, if you want).  But you can also go preppier by just using patterns that instantly connote nautical, such as wide navy stripes (below, left) or rope wrapped around planters or plates (below, right).  You don’t need to add too many of these elements for it to ‘read’ appropriately seaworthy.


Be creative and have fun!  Use rope to weave a monogram on your cake table (later, you could display this in a shadow box frame) or hang nautical signal flags from your chairs at the sweetheart’s table (below).

Bunting is a beautiful decoration for nautical weddings. Other than signal flags, you can also use sturdy canvas or illustrated linen (below) for a softer vibe.

As with any themed wedding, table numbers and place cards are one detail you can get really inventive with.  You can create a mini vignette with rocks and a spyglass (the kids at your wedding would love that), printing the table number on a wooden float (above).  Or go clean and minimal with a hurricane lantern in white and a simple block with a knot (below).

If you want to be extra subtle, you can simply use a large knot to hold up your table number, as shown below.

Credits:  Olivia Grace Paperie   |   Oh So Beautiful Paper   |   Katie Osgood Photography   |   Eat Cake Be Merry   |   Brosnan Photographic   |   Occasional Papercraft   |   Angie Hearts Jared   |   Cari Courtright Photography   |   Laurel McConnell Photography   |   Rebekah J. Murray Photography   |   Karena Dixon   |   Studio Eleven Weddings   |   Alea Lovely   |   Shannon Moffit Photography   |   Studio 28