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Casual Elegance

Bringing Casual Elegance to a Wedding by the Sea

Decorating With Wallpaper - By Jaima Brown

"Destination weddings" are a fast-growing trend, a consequence of today's mobile society in which families and friends are widely scattered. To gather the clan and the kindred, couples increasingly forego a "hometown" wedding for an appealing and accessible location. Among the most popular choices are seaside resort communities in general and the Florida Keys in particular.

Often a seaside destination calls for a change in traditional wedding décor, and coastal references sail to the top of the decorating selections. Ellison Bay, a collection of wallpapers and borders from the Piper Designs division of S.A. Maxwell Co., gives planners a wealth of patterns to help create a wedding ambiance that is both appropriately casual for a seaside setting and, at the same time, suitably elegant for a momentous weekend wedding celebration.

Sailing ships or maps of the world provide ideal symbolism for a bride and groom about to embark on a new life together, and Ellison Bay has several patterns of both of these motifs to choose from. In one vacation home that we re-decorated in preparation for a coastal wedding, we wallpapered the living room with a medium-scale print of sailing ships and lighthouses, bringing together the colors of sand and sky.

The walls are accented on top with a coordinating border on which the ships are in close configuration and interspersed with ocean-washed red, white and blue buoys, flags and other nautical objects. Above the walls, which are topped with clean, white wood molding, is a ceiling, wallpapered in a subtle sky-blue overall pattern.

The border is used again to flank either side of a coffee table, transformed to hold the bridal shower gifts and, at its center, a beautifully decorated cake. To make the cake the focal point of this intimate gathering, we found a cake plate with a six-inch-high pedestal base and turned it into a platform for our deliciously inviting centerpiece.

The platform is a square box made of cardboard. Its span is two inches longer and wider than the diameter of the cake, and it is open on the bottom. The sides are surrounded with a blue-and-white wallpaper border with large red stars, which we carefully outlined at the edge and cut around the stars to silhouette them. We turned the box upside down, placed it over the cake plate and centered the cake on top of it so the cake is elevated, appearing to float just above the gifts. The gifts themselves are also in keeping with the party motif, wrapped in assorted Ellison Bay wallpaper and border patterns that coordinate perfectly with the coastal theme.

To preserve the feeling of this joyous occasion and its seaside setting, the bride created a "memory book," using papers from Ellison Bay as its pages. Inside, following the wedding, she will maintain an assemblage of mementos -- her garter, pressed flowers from her wedding bouquet, and a special poem from her bridesmaids -- along with photographs, casual and formal, of her coastal wedding weekend.

To find the nearest retailer carrying the Ellison Bay collection from the Piper Designs division of S. A. Maxwell Co., call 847-932-3700 or visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

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