The Ultimate Oyster Themed Wedding
Six years ago when I met my future husband on the Upper East Side of Manhattan at a dive bar that no longer exists (thanks, 2nd Avenue subway construction).
We both never in a million years imagined that we'd be toasting to our new marriage in Maine with oysters and bubbly. Although this blog has captured many of our oyster escapades together, this one really takes the cake... quite literally. Here is an exclusive look into the many oyster shenanigans of this particular oyster lover's wedding day.
After scouring Etsy for months, I discovered the most beautiful, ethereal freshwater pearl jewelry by Virginia Geiger. Early on during my planning phase, I came across these gorgeous DIY gold-gilded oyster shell salt cellars on Pinterest and decided to create my own and repurpose them for a few uses: first as a jewelry holder and then as an escort "card."
The Escort Shells & Table Display
I spent two years carefully collecting and curating the perfect oyster shell collection for this moment. It sounds kind of insane, but since we had time on our hands, I didn't feel pressured to compromise. Where did they all come from? Some of the shells traveled as far as Ireland and Japan, while others were "recruited" along my many oyster outings around the country. To help boost the oyster's natural color, I sprayed a Crystal Clear Acrylic coating over the outside. The insides were painted gold and stamped with a table number.
I used coral Himalayan rock salt as the canvas for the escort table display. Truth be told, I probably should've ordered a grain size up. Coarser salt would've probably delivered a better look, but it got the job done nonetheless. Each name was painstakingly written by hand by yours truly. I learned "modern calligraphy" over a weekend through Skillshare and spared Chavelli Tsui, my ever-talented friend/bridesmaid/invite suite designer/chalkboard artist from having to add on to her lengthy to-do list. ;)
The Table Setting
This is where Meagan and Judy, my wedding planner and florist really worked their magic. Every table had a gorgeous floral centerpiece, scattering of gold-tinted candles and lanterns, and a bone-white river of oyster shells. Judy is a fellow oyster lover and she came prepared with two gigantic tubs of shells of all shapes and sizes.
The Oyster Bar
Now onto the interactive and edible portion of the evening! Since our wedding took place in mid-coast Maine (Stockton Springs to be exact), I wanted to highlight the local oysters from the region. Despite the rampant oyster culture in NYC, most Maine oysters are still well-kept secrets from the walruses and carpenters of the city. It boggles me as to why. The cold waters of Maine produce some of the best tasting oysters year round. My guess is that Mainers just would rather keep the good stuff for themselves! (I certainly would. Don't know why I even bother to advertise all of this.) I consider myself lucky for being able to share both Little Island Oysters from Bagaduce River and Johns River oysters from the Damariscotta with my guests.
I first encountered the Johns River Oysters two years ago when we were scouting for wedding venues in Maine. Our friends encouraged us to try them so we purchased several dozen from the Harbor Fish Market. Grower Dave Cheney's regimented grow-out process leverages a mix of locations along the Damariscotta and methods to optimize shell hardness and cup depth. Part of his crop are sold as Johns Rivers, while the other half are finished into Colonials, which Dave claims taste even better (hard to imagine that!).
A little more up north, Frank and Tonyia Peasley of Little Island Oyster Co. have been farming their little half shell delights along the Bagaduce River around their family island since 2009. I experienced my first Little Island Oyster last fall during New York Oyster Week, although I had no idea that they were grown so (relatively) close to our wedding venue! The Peasleys were gracious enough to help shuck their oysters and the Johns Rivers for our cocktail hour. Although I only had a quick moment during the crazy day to say hello, Frank and Tonyia's warmth and down-to-earthness was magnetic. They are a great duo to have at any wedding reception!
Oyster Cake Toppers
Of course, I cannot forget the other edible oysters either. I discovered these super life-like chocolate oysters on Etsy awhile ago and immediately thought about putting them atop the wedding cake. Those are also edible pearls too!
The Oyster & Champagne Toast
Last, but certainly not least, was our unforgettable oyster and champagne toast! To celebrate our first moments as husband and wife, we thought it would be cool to share a sip and slurp with our family and friends. After we clinked the oysters shells and champagne flutes, the room fell quiet as everyone paused to savor the delicious pairing. It was the perfect way to set the mood for an incredible evening of laughter, heartwarming speeches, good eats, and oh yes, lots of dancing.
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Many, Many Thanks
This fantastical vision of our big day came together with the help and generous support of many amazing individuals:
Frank & Tonyia Peasley of Little Island Oyster Co for gifting us a with a truly phenomenal raw bar experience
Dave Cheney of Johns River Oysters for the generous gift of your signature Johns River oysters to toast with
Meagan Gilpatrick of Maine Seasons Events for the creative vision, craftsmanship, execution, & moral support
Rebecca Arthurs of Rebecca Arthurs Photography for capturing all of the beautiful details of the weekend
Judy Bourgeois of Flora Fauna for the luscious flower arrangements and dreamy oyster tablescapes
Christina Grimsley of French's Point for patiently, and most diligently attending to us, our friends and family
Chavelli Tsui for the exquisite chalkboard menu, wedding newspaper, and other delightful prints
Simon Tai (aka DJ Taiga) of The Remixologists for getting the party started and keeping the good times going
Zach Boyce for your calm, cool and collected artistry (can't wait to see what you've come up with!)
Sweet Sensations for the cake and many dessert table treats
Kim Doll for the lovely do, talking me out of wearing my hair down during a rainstorm, and tent miracle
Cynthia Clayton for bridal party makeup services
Jen Liu for select oyster bar photos