Think Outside the Docks

Think Outside the Docks | A tropical night on a restored 1930s yacht proves rehearsal dinners need not be predictable.

Last year, Frank and Linda Lynch purchased a 1930s Trumpy yacht with a colorful past: Innisfail has hosted presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, and Clinton, along with other luminaries. And also last year, the Lynches’ daughter Franca was engaged. Those two big events collided when Franca’s proud parents surprised their daughter with a rehearsal dinner aboard the boat this past spring. Uncharacteristically tight-lipped, they hadn’t even told Franca they owned Innisfail until she arrived for the party. That night, Heather Barrie of gathering: floral + event design unveiled a floating tropical paradise. Steel drums played reggae tunes as 70 guests mingled among tropical flowers and sampled items from a Jamaican menu. Franca was thrilled to say the least.

Brides-to-be can create their own refreshing rehearsal dinners based on the ideas Heather incorporated that night. When it comes to a boat party, she suggests you keep the décor simple so it doesn’t overwhelm the space, and that you use pops of color in subtle elements like the napkins or the flowers. “It’s also important,” she says, “to keep the décor functional. On a boat, you can’t have tall centerpieces because of the rocking factor.” Last, she says guests should have an “out” when the venue’s a surprise—and not necessarily for everyone. To that end, the Lynches’ party began with a dockside cocktail hour, after which water-shy guests could excuse themselves.

Location: Innisfail (Frank Lynch); Planner & florals: gathering: event + design; Photographer: Gayle Brooker; Catering & rentals: Iverson Catering; Glassware: Gilmore Bar & Wine