Anchors Away

Cori and Nathan's nautical nuptuals in Rockland aboard a vintage 1920s schooner
By Susan Grieve

You never know when or where you will find “the one.” Cori Harris (originally from Cape May, NJ) and Nathan Noll (from Harrisburg, PA) were both living in Cleveland, Ohio, and some mutual friends were eager to connect them, as they were both from the
east coast.

Nathan remembers dating Cori through several moves over a period of time. “We dated while Cori was in Cleveland, when she moved to Michigan, and then when she traveled in Africa. When Cori returned from Africa, we continued dating before I proposed to her on December 27, 2018.” After Cori’s trip to Africa, Nathan says that “we were inseparable, and I knew that I didn’t want to let her get that far away from me again.”

Nathan planned a romantic post-holiday proposal in Cori’s hometown of Cape May, NJ. “I proposed to Cori just after Christmas in Cape May at Congress Hall, one of the most historical and picturesque places in town. Cori is a huge fan of Christmas and Cape May is a special place during that time of the year.” Nathan remembers that “I got down on one knee outside next to the largest Christmas tree in town, and then we went inside to celebrate with drinks and friends. The night ended with the most amazing dinner at the Peter Shields Inn and Restaurant.”

Cori and Nathan ended up in Rockland on a bit of a whim…and Cori’s desire to get married on a schooner. “Cori had gotten the idea that the wedding could take place on a schooner,” Nathan recalls, “and we began searching for boats that could work. We stumbled on the Schooner Ladona and fell in love with the ship, the history of the boat (it served as a submarine patrol in WWII), its aesthetic with natural wood and all white accents, and the layout with ample seating and standing for 45 people. We actually booked the wedding sight-unseen — we had never been to Rockland or seen the boat. We later made visits to check out the town and the boat and coordinate arrangements and realized just how awesome a ‘venue’ and area we had chosen.” In addition, they fell in love with the people that they met. “We were also blown away by the kindness of everyone we met in Rockland,” says Nathan.
This choice also reflected a bit of compromise for Nathan and Cori. “We were limited to having no more than 45 guests, which led to a smaller and more intimate wedding than we had planned, but it ended up being perfect. I had envisioned a large wedding and Cori wanted to elope; this size felt like a perfect compromise.”

Reflecting on the planning process, Nathan remembers the challenges that he and Cori faced with their unique choice. “Planning a wedding from many states away was certainly unique. We would tell anyone doing the same to be aware that it can take more time to coordinate everything than if you are having your wedding at a venue you can visit, for example. Having patience and organization are crucial to staying sane while you’re waiting to find out info about your exciting day.”
Another unusual aspect of their planning came with working around the schedule of the boat itself. “We also had the added challenge of coordinating with a ship and crew that are extremely busy or out at sea,” says Nathan. “Jane Barnes (co-owner and coordinator of the Schooner Ladona) was amazing with answering all of our questions, nailing down our details and recommending how to make everything smooth sailing (pun intended).” Letting the schooner set the tone and theme for the wedding. Nathan and Cori opted to not go overboard on the nautical references in their décor. Cori chose a combination of dusty blue and natural greens.
This nautical and non-traditional approach led Nathan and Cori to trust the people involved and rely on their expertise. “We weren’t able to plan every single aspect of the wedding like I’ve heard others do,” says Nathan. “We didn’t even know what Captain JR had planned for the ceremony speech until a few hours before the wedding. There were plenty of other things like that, that were left ‘unplanned’ and became happy surprises when they happened organically.”

The big day finally arrived, and Nathan, Cori, and 45 family members and close friends gathered for the eagerly anticipated wedding at sea. “All of our guests boarded the schooner while it was docked,” remembers Nathan. “Then the bridal party walked down the dock and stood at the bow. Cori then walked down and took her place. Captain JR gave his remarks about the power of love and then married us. The ceremony was capped off by air horns from all of the surrounding boats.”
Following the ceremony, guests made their way to the main seating area of the schooner.
“Not many weddings that I know of require a Coast Guard mandated safety speech about what to do if someone falls overboard,” Nathan jokes, “but that was just one of the unique things we loved about our wedding. After the safety speech, about 20 of the guests broke into 2 lines to hoist a set of sails before we departed. While it was necessary to get that many people to raise the sails — it set the tone that this probably wasn’t going to be like most weddings. The sails were lifted by the members of the lines working in unison. Once they were up, the crew of the Ladona untied us from the dock and we began our journey through the Penobscot Bay.”
After the sails were hoisted, the party began. “The Ladona set sail and we began riding the strong winds out into the Penobscot bay,” remembers Nathan. “Captain JR and the crew graciously let guests take their turn at the wheel to see what it’s like to steer the ship.”
As the Ladona sailed up the coast, guests enjoyed drinks and hors d’ouvres, mingling on the deck, in the ship’s living quarters, and at the large main table. “Zipping past the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse was a huge thrill and led to some breathtaking photo opportunities,” says Nathan. “For many of our guests, it was their first time in Maine and getting to see the wild coast was a unique way to take in some of the best that Maine has to offer.” Guests then enjoyed dinner from Dot’s Market, which included chicken with fennel and orange and Israeli couscous salad.

After dinner, the cake was cut, and speeches were given by Nathan’s brother, Adam, and Cori’s best friend, Helen. As the evening fell over the Atlantic Ocean, the schooner’s lanterns were lit, and guests enjoyed watching the twinkling lights on
shore. At the end of the cruise, Nathan recalls that “guests made their way onto the dock with sparklers to capture one last picture from the wedding.” It was a perfect
end to the perfect wedding day.

I’m so glad that... we decided to keep the wedding small and intimate. I think it helped the guests to feel more relaxed and really enjoy themselves. I felt I was able to connect on a deeper level with my guests, while also enjoying my time celebrating with my new husband!

One of my favorite moments was... walking down the “aisle” (dock) to our favorite David Bowie song and then seeing everyone on the boat for the first time.

I didn’t realize... how much the elements of an outside wedding can affect your makeup and hair for photos. Even though I chose an up-do hairstyle, it was no match for the wind once we set sail. I am easy going and didn’t think twice about it until I saw some of the photos. I still love how they turned out, but it is something other brides will want to consider if choosing an outdoor ceremony/ reception.

I wish... I could go back and do it all over again!!! Even though it was an all-day event, the time flew by.

I really liked... that my husband supported my alternative ideas for our wedding. Being able to control and tweak the details to fit our personalities made it the most amazing day of our lives.

My advice to other brides is... at the end of the day, the wedding is about celebrating your love. Don’t get too hung up on the details. I promise you no one will notice the small mishaps or unplanned mistakes. Most importantly, have fun! It should be a joyous day spent surrounded by the people you love. Take your shoes off, indulge in that dinner you planned, dance all night, and try to remember every moment, because it goes by fast!

Maine Vendors
Venue: Schooner Ladona, Rockland
Caterer: Susie Barnes, Dot's Market, Rockland
Photographer: Ember, Closer North, Rockland
Officiant: Captain J.R. Braugh, Rockland
Florist: Golden Brook Farm, Camden
Hair/Makeup: I Do Spas, Sidney
Accomadation: 250 Main Hotel, Rockland
Rehearsal Dinner: Ada's Kitchen, Rockland