Cape Cod LIFE, May 2016

Inspired by love, history & the sea

Cape Cod Life  /  May 2016 / ,

Writer: Elizabeth O' Brien Betti / Photographer: Arielle Doneson 

Liz & Pete's Wedding in Provincetown

Photography by Arielle Doneson

My husband Peter and I have always loved the stories of the days of whaling ships, sea captains and shipwrecks. Taking inspiration from these visions of old world New England, we celebrated the ocean-side Cape Cod wedding of our dreams last summer.

Peter is as drawn to the sea as I am. A Barnstable native, he grew up spending his summers working on fishing boats on the Cape and later went to school to become a marine engineer. My summer days were spent on Dowses Beach in Osterville or enjoying my parents’ Boston Whaler. The sea is deeply embedded in both of us.

As an interior designer by trade, I was excited by the challenge of creating a unique wedding experience that our guests would love. Many would be visiting from out of town, and we wanted a unique wedding venue—something in walking distance to guest accommodations and that which would offer a perfect Cape Cod experience. We happily chose Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument. The view from the hill is breathtaking, and on a clear day you can see for miles.

Provincetown is an old fishing and whaling village that is rich in history, and it was the perfect location for our “shipwrecked”-themed wedding. With our friends and family on hand, we exchanged our vows overlooking Provincetown Harbor. We draped an arbor in tulle, sail cloth and manila rope to resemble a shipwreck. From the center hung a four-foot ship I designed and had welded with hundreds of crystals and chain collected from vintage chandeliers.

Liz & Pete's Wedding in Provincetown

Photography by Arielle Doneson

We rented a tidewater tent and the backdrop looked like a scene from a painting. The base of the monument itself was transformed into old world nautical days with accents of rope, strewn tulle, compasses, oil lanterns and more. Greys and blues reflected a stormy, shipwrecked feel. Each guest table was decorated with flowers cascading from silver-leafed vases, and the table names featured nautical terms displayed on wine bottles we had collected. The guest favors were handmade ornaments made from Cape Cod sand.

Leading up to the wedding, we spent more than a year collecting artifacts and other décor items along the East and West coast. Finding decorative pieces befitting the whaling era became a challenge I enjoyed. Each detail was crucial to help create the feel of old world times, and I felt it important that each piece was either personally handmade by my husband and I, or “found” in an antique shop specifically for our big day. After the wedding we would display these items in our home to enjoy for years to come.

Elegantly displayed throughout the venue—the grounds surrounding the monument—were vintage bottles with sea coral toppers, pearls draped over old fashioned jewelry boxes, and inspiring paintings of whaling expeditions. Hors d’oeuvres were served on antique silver trays, and a hand carved wooden whale hung above the bar. The bar itself was made from ship-lapped mahogany, and fish netting hung from either side displaying hundreds of poets’ and songwriters’ quotes about love. The day’s signature drinks were a Dark and Stormy and a Drunken Mermaid—cocktails fitting our “ship wrecked” wedding theme.

Lastly, one of my favorite décor components was a mileage marker sign that was inspired by a family vacation to the Caribbean. Dressed at the top was a seasoned ship weathervane I had found on the California coast.

Following our wedding, Peter and I honeymooned at the Centerboard Inn on Nantucket, a former whaling captain’s home built in 1880. It was the perfect ending to our old New England wedding weekend.

Elizabeth O' Brien Betti

A native of Osterville, Elizabeth O’Brien Betti is an interior designer and lives with her husband in San Diego. Her wedding was featured in the May 2016 issue of Cape Cod LIFE.