Martha & Eliot
These sailors were friends for years before they crossed the lovely line into a relationship. That foundation has helped them through months spent miles apart.
Photography by Michelle Turner Photography
Eliot Weston and Martha Messer met while serving our country in the Navy. They were both a part of VP-8, a land-based patrol squadron that was based at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.
Eliot and Martha started out as friends. They didn’t start dating until Martha (and VP-8) moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Like many who work in the armed forces, they often had to deal with separation. Eliot’s orders moved him to Jacksonville, while Martha’s orders sent her to Norfolk, Virginia. “We’ve had very bad luck with the timing of our moves,” Martha says. But that’s par for the course for many military couples.
During a trip to visit Eliot in Florida over Memorial Day weekend, Martha got the surprise of her life. “We had champagne on the balcony of his condo after a trip to the Cumberland Island National Seashore,” Martha says. “He said he knew that there is one thing that would never change—that he would always love me. Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”
Since the couple met in Maine, and Eliot is from Montville, they decided to head north for their nuptials. They were married at Fort Knox Historic Site in Prospect, and held their reception at French’s Point in nearby Stockton Springs.
“We had visited the fort a couple of years earlier when we were friends, and Eliot went there a number of times as a child,” Martha says. “We were brainstorming about where to get married, and it was a great idea that we both really liked.”
Just days after the couple got engaged, Eliot was sent to the Middle East. “He helped me from afar,” Martha says. “He chose the band while he was away and started researching transportation. We constantly bounced ideas off of each other.”
Eliot’s mother and father were instrumental in helping Martha make a lot of the big decisions early on, making the wedding planning process from afar that much easier. “There were days and weeks when I didn’t want to think or do anything related to the wedding,” she says. “There were also times when that was all I wanted to do. Getting the big things done early allowed me to take those breaks.”
One of those very big decisions was Fort Knox. The couple kept it simple, opting for the gorgeous view of the Penobscot River from Battery C instead a lot of decorations. The couple had the Weston’s family pastor, Rev. Stephen Tracey, from Lakeview Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Rockport, act as the officiant. “The ceremony was the best part of the day,” Martha says. “I know it sounds cliché, but it was. There is nothing else that can compare to saying our vows.”
The couple continued the theme of a pristine Maine wedding by incorporating a lot of evergreen and pine accents into their big day. “Maine is so beautiful that we wanted to complement it, not compete with it,” Martha says. They had a friend draw a pine tree that the couple used on their stationery, programs, and pint glass wedding favors—a nod to Eliot’s penchant for home brewing.
Martha wanted to give their guest something that would represent her with a handmade touch. She spent eight months knitting dishcloths for each and every person. Eliot’s mother helped out by sewing the tablecloths and burlap runners for the dining room tables. The pine tree for the favor table came straight from the Weston’s backyard.
The couple knew that they would be inviting a lot of out of town guests and wanted to make the trip to Maine worth it. “My top priority and concern was that everyone had a really good time,” Martha says. One of the things they did to make this happen was to hire a live band—This Way—based out of Portland. “The band was awesome. I’m not a big dancer, but I was on the dance floor a lot more than I thought I would be.”
The couple also had some wonderful surprises during their day. Martha surprised Eliot by coordinating the firing of a canon at the end of the ceremony, while Eliot’s parents surprised the couple with a fireworks show at French’s Point at the end of the night. Martha’s surprise was what she calls “the getaway truck”—a great big red truck with a gigantic “Just Married” sign on it. “It was a complete surprise for me—it was amazing!” Martha says.
After their wedding, Martha and Eliot headed to Shelburne, Nova Scotia, for a much deserved week off. They rented a cottage on a lake and just relaxed. Since the couple wasn’t 100% sure they would even be able to take a honeymoon until about three weeks before the wedding, the laid back lakeside cottage in close proximity to their wedding was a perfect choice.
Martha and Eliot are now settled, together, in Virginia. “Eliot was able to move to Norfolk from Jacksonville after the honeymoon,” Martha says. “We feel so lucky to not only be living in the same city, but in the same house!
In Her Words
We asked the bride more about their special day. Here’s what Martha says . . .
I’m so glad that . . . we were able to make a lot of the big decisions (location, venues, dress, colors, florist, etc…) early on. It made the planning process from Virginia much more relaxed.
One of my favorite moments was . . . the ceremony. It was amazing seeing him at the other end of the aisle.
I wish . . . I had made it clear to certain family and friends that I wanted a picture with them after the ceremony. They left for the reception. It was one of the things that slipped through the cracks.
I didn’t realize . . . that I wouldn’t get to spend as much time with family and friends as I would have liked.
My advice to other brides is . . . to keep it simple.