Sheltered Islander: Ferry Tale Weddings on Shelter Island

Getting married on a ferry, how romantic—or not
Getting married on a ferry, how romantic—or not, Photo: Hramovnick/iStock/Thinkstock

June has arrived. Time for brides and extravagant weddings. When my mother was young, in the 1950s, she said weddings weren’t the big productions they are now. She was married in a nice dress, in a church, and the reception was a backyard affair with friends and family. Music was provided by bringing the Victrola outside, and anyone could play their favorite record. The wedding feast was a clambake and barbecue.

It didn’t cost a fortune, and a good time was had by all.

Somewhere between then and now, weddings have evolved into coronations. Gowns that cost as much as a car, limousines, flowers flown in from exotic locales, and because the logistics have become so extensive, we now have a new vocation—a Wedding Planner. Couples are starting their lives together in debt from the wedding!

On the Island we still have a lot of backyard receptions, as indicated by the signal balloons in the wedding colors that appear on road signs everywhere. Most people add their name to the balloon signals now, ever since two brides picked the same colors and had their receptions on the same day, resulting in guests getting completely confused and ending up at a wedding reception, but just not the right one. Hey, a party is a party!

But there’s one excellent financial opportunity that both North and South ferries have missed. It would create a unique reception for any wedding, and still be cheaper than the wedding/coronation. A Ferry Tale Wedding.

How perfect for an Island wedding would it be to rent a ferry to circle the Island while you get married and have your reception on a big, flat deck? Think of it. The boat all festooned in balloons and ribbons picks up the guest at the dock. Everyone can dress in casual but nice clothes that can handle sea spray, including the bride. No expensive gown, just a gauzy, flowing, cotton dress, like a Polo ad in Vogue. No expensive hairdo, because there is no hairdo, no hairspray, no hair gel on the planet that can survive five minutes on the deck of a moving boat. It’s ponytail all the way.

Food? Clams so fresh they don’t even know they’re out of the water. Fresh fish? But, of course, chéri. Plus, if you supply fishing poles so your guests can fish off the side, you’ll not only save more money on food but you’ll get every husband invited to come without protest! You know how men moan and groan about attending family events? Tell them they can fish. Whatever they pull up will be filleted and fried in minutes. And add another bonus—they can smoke! It’s outside with the breeze blowing, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

A live band wouldn’t work on the boat, so just set up some speakers and play your iPod music.You wouldn’t have to hire a photographer, all the media outlets would love to cover such a unique event.

And perhaps the greatest advantage of all—what to do with the inebriated, out-of-control guest. Simply slip a life preserver around them, give them an unopened can of beer, and over the side they go! Don’t forget to tie the rope to the railing. It’s so embarrassing when guests wash up in Montauk. By the end of the day, the ferry would be towing a quarter of the guests or more. Think of the memories….

“…I was the first one they threw over at that wedding. I was alone for about two minutes when over the side came Wendy. That’s how we met. She got a little wild and took off her blouse. So we sat in our life preservers, being towed slowly behind the boat, talking about everything. By the end of the party, there were 17 of us in the water. The topsiders lowered clams, clam knives and horseradish down to us, so we had a nice lunch on the water. It was a great wedding!”

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