Real Weddings: A DIY Beach-Theme Wedding

bride and groom looking at one another
A North Carolina couple pulls off a show-stopping event with unique touches you can make your own, from star fish boutonnieres to a sea-shell covered cake.

Personalize Programs

About the Couple: Laura and Eric loved traveling to the beachfront community of Southport, North Carolina, and thought it would be the perfect place to tie the knot. Check out all the easy DIY projects they incorporated into their beach-themed wedding.

These DIY programs were personalized with a watercolor illustration created by Eric's mom. Then Laura photocopied the painting onto card stock. She finished the program with a raffia tie.

Budget Saver: Drawing, painting, or designing your own programs will save you big bucks.

Setting the Beachy Vibe

About the Couple: Laura and Eric loved traveling to the beachfront community of Southport, North Carolina, and thought it would be the perfect place to tie the knot. Check out all the easy DIY projects they incorporated into their beach-themed wedding.

They brought the beach to their wedding with these homemade starfish boutonnieres worn by the groomsmen, readers, and ring bearers. Laura bought the starfish at a local crafts store then hot-glued a pin on the back.

Bride's Tip: The starfish made a sturdy boutonniere that lasted the entire night. They also made a great keepsake for their friends to save.

A Simple Dress

Sticking with the beach theme, Laura wanted to keep her dress simple and classy. She picked out this beautiful dress with a chapel-length train from the Bridal Boutique in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Be Bold with Flowers

For a pop of color, the bridesmaids carried Laura's favorite flower, pink gerbera daisies, paired with orange roses to tie in Laura's bouquet.

Something Borrowed

Laura carried this embroidered handkerchief that was Eric's grandmother's as her "something borrowed." Another special family heirloom given to Laura was her engagement ring that dates back to the early 1930s.

Out-of-the-Ordinary Accessories

Laura didn't want an average white purse that she would never use again, so when she found this funky bag it was a perfect fit. Laura also had her bridesmaids sign and write messages on the bottom of her wedding shoes.

Bride's Tip: Don't be afraid to be bold with your accessories so you can use them again. Laura carried this purse during her honeymoon and still uses it today.

Flower Girls

As an alternative for the flower girls, they carried these beautiful flower spheres complete with pink gerbera daisies and orange roses.

Bride's Tip: If you want to avoid the cleanup from the flower girls' petals, these flower spheres are perfect. The girls still have something to tote around but it's like a purse and doesn't make a mess.

Season's Greetings

To incorporate a touch of fall, Laura and Eric bought these scarecrows at a local hobby store, then decked them out in wedding attire purchased at a thrift store. The fall duo welcomed guests into Eric's parents' beach house where the rehearsal dinner was held.

A Pretty Perspective

Wanting a traditional Catholic ceremony, Laura and Eric chose the beautiful Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which Eric's family had attended for years when visiting their beach house in Southport. The elegant rafters were a complement to the ceremony's simple decor.

A New Approach to Pew Bows

Bringing the beach to her ceremony decor, Laura made these simple pew bows out of raffia. She gathered the raffia then tied them together with a single piece of raffia. She completed the look by attaching a starfish and sand dollar (that Laura found on the beach), then placing them on every other row.

Budget Saver: Laura and Eric were able to make decorations that saved them money by staying away from lots of flowers at the ceremony.

A Bold Color Scheme

Laura and Eric wanted to keep the beach vibe throughout their wedding, including their attire. The bridesmaids sported bold papaya dresses, and the guys wore matching blue and orange striped ties that Laura and Eric gave as their wedding gift.

Bride's Tip: Don't be afraid of bold colors for the bridesmaids. Just have all the gals try on the dress and make sure the color tones work for everyone.

A Non-Beach Beach Wedding

Laura and Eric wanted to incorporate touches of the beach into their wedding and photos without actually having their ceremony on the sand. Between the ceremony and the reception they headed to the beach with their wedding party to snap a few photos.

Bride's Tip: It's okay to take the group pictures during the event. Send your guests off to a cocktail hour, snap the shots, and everyone will be ready for your grand entrance when you arrive.

Making a Bang

When Laura and Eric made their grand entrance guests, were treated to a blast (literally) from the past. The Southport Historical Society features Thor, a full-scale replica of an 1841 Civil War cannon. Dressed in full uniform, members of the historical society helped the newlyweds blast the cannon.

Bride's Tip: Try to incorporate bits of the town history for out-of-town guest. They will enjoy the touch of community and it'll spice up your event.

Family Love

Spanning five generations of family members, Laura and Eric proudly displayed their beautiful wedding photos along with a mat for their guests to sign.

Get the Look: Gather antique or antique-inspired frames and wedding photos of your family members. Then create small tags to go with the photos, so your guests know who is who.

Simple Tables

To continue the simple decor throughout the reception, Laura chose these rich chocolate tablecloths with white napkins for a bold contrast.

Bride's Tip: You don't have to go all out when it comes to reception decor. Let your guests enjoy the ambience around them -- like the beautiful beach in this case.

Easy-to-Make Centerpieces

Laura knew that she didn't want to have too many flowers for her reception decor so she made these creative candle centerpieces. She bought glass hurricanes then used raffia and a starfish to complete the look.

Bride's Tip: If you know that you're going to do a project like this, save coupons and spread out the purchases of your supplies. It will save you big bucks in the end.

Creative Champagne Flutes

These hand-painted Champagne flutes from Eclectic, a store in Southport, were given to Laura and Eric by his parents for a shower gift.

A Sea-Themed Cake

Laura wanted to incorporate the beach into her wedding cake and she found a cake designer who mastered that challenge. The almond pound cake with buttercream frosting was topped off with handmade white chocolate seashells.

A Sentimental Touch from the Past

To incorporate more family heirlooms into their wedding, Laura placed her grandparents' cake topper on her cake table.

Start the Party

Laura and Eric started their dance off with the traditional Dollar Dance (also referred to as the Money Dance). Guests paid a dollar (or more) for a Jell-O shot and a dance with the bride or groom.

Homemade Favors

Laura made about 300 starfish cookies for her wedding favors. She made them about two months before, froze them, then iced them the week of the wedding.

Bride's Tip: Test different cookie recipes until you find your favorite one that will freeze well. And make sure to enlist the help of your family and bridesmaids when it comes to icing all the cookies!

A Special Touch

A friend of the family for over 30 years, Father Whit flew in from Pennsylvania to perform Eric and Laura's ceremony. It added an extra personal touch to the wedding.

Vendor Guide

Ceremony Location: Sacred Heart Catholic Church; Southport, North Carolina; 910-457-6137

Reception: Southport Community Building; Southport, North Carolina; 910-457-0665

Caterer: Bon Appetit Catering; Wilmington, North Carolina;

Florist: Gloria Hart at Hart's Florist; Burgaw, North Carolina; 910-259-2926

Continued on next slide

Vendor Guide Continued

Cake: Nancy Hearne; Wilmington, North Carolina; 910-256-2887

Bride's Dress: Bridal Boutique; Wilmington, North Carolina; 910-794-7070

Photographer: Piner Photography; Wilmington, North Carolina;

Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bridal Boutique; Wilmington, North Carolina; 910-794-7070

Men's Jackets and Pants: Brooks Brothers

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