Robin Pendleton and Chad Charmier planned a budget-conscious wedding, filling in the “big ticket” items first and leaving the rest to their own creativity.

“We knew we wanted to do a big, traditional lobster bake, so once we had decided on that, we started filling in other details from there, and before we knew it, we were planning a lobster themed wedding!” she explained.

Charmier, originally from South Africa, and Pendleton, from Maine, met through her Rhode Island employer in 2003. They became engaged in April, 2008, planning the wedding for October 4 that same year at her late grandmother’s home on the island of Islesboro. “It’s a beautiful little cottage on the water,” Pendleton related, “but the cove only has water tidally (At low tide, it’s mud flats!), so we had to schedule the wedding around the tides.”

The ceremony itself took place at 2 p.m., with high tide about an hour later. Because Islesboro is accessible only by boat, guests took a 20-minute ferry ride to get to the island, Pendleton noted.

When planning the wedding, the couple incorporated “the spirit of a classic Maine lobster bake,” and used primarily red, white and blue colors. They wanted a relaxed and “unfussy” event.

“We bought red kerosene lanterns for the centerpieces, and used mismatched blue and white bowls on the tables for lobster shells. My stepmother (bless her!) collected and washed 200 mussel shells to use as individual salt and pepper cellars on the tables,” Pendleton recalled. “The bridesmaids each chose a different style of royal blue dress. We ended up with a very last-minute red aisle runner as well. We picked up the red, white and blue theme with the flowers, but we also worked in other colors to keep the wedding from looking too patriotic.”

Pendleton relied on technology and crafts for some of the other aspects. “I handmade our red, white and blue invitations with a good printer, several paper punches, and a lot of patience. I also designed a save-the-date card using a hand-drawn lobster with “Eat Me” printed below it – a little tongue in cheek, but fun for a save-the-date card. I had matching buttons made for favors, but unfortunately forgot them in Rhode Island!”

The couple utilized nautical decorations where they could. Pendleton’s father, who owns a boatyard next to the cottage, hung nautical flags, she said. Beverages were served from a sailing dinghy filled with ice.

“I arrived at the wedding in a beautifully restored classic lobster boat,” she recalled. “It was so special to me that we could arrive together in a traditional Maine lobster boat.”

Pendleton said there were no major disasters, but weather did impact her wedding.

“It rained for days, maybe weeks, leading up to the wedding, so the ground was absolutely waterlogged that morning,” she said. “I’m certain they didn’t realize it at the time, but the people who set up the seating and flowers for the ceremony walked up and down the aisle so many times it was a mud pit by 9 a.m.!”

Because they wanted to have the ocean as a backdrop at the ceremony, there was no option for moving the seating. At the same time, there was no way Pendleton could walk down the “aisle” in a white dress with a train – at least not before pictures.

“My father remembered an unused roll of red canvas he had sitting in one of his storage bays at the boatyard,” she continued. “He also (found) several sheets of plywood, and good friends of ours who were staying at the house for the wedding stapled the canvas to the plywood to create a red, mud-proof aisle runner. It absolutely saved the day!”

Lobsters, real and decorative, were a big hit with the guests, adding to the festivity. “It had the casual, friendly, Downeast Maine vibe we were hoping for,” she said.

Although the day began chilly and gray, just as the couple said their vows, the sun broke through the clouds. “That was my favorite part, a little serendipitous cooperation from the weather,” Pendleton said. At her husband’s urging, “we had wedding cake and a champagne toast immediately following the ceremony. It’s not traditional, but it felt very fun and celebratory to have cake and champagne on a sunny afternoon right away after we said our vows. It also gave our guests some entertainment while our photographer took photos.”

Pendleton believes having a themed wedding helped them stick to a budget. “There’s a lot of room for creative interpretation with an unusual theme, so you can do it yourself with great results.”

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