A Shipshape Day as Marriage Gets a Happy Launch


A woman on the verge of planning a wedding might see herself as a Southern belle in yards of lace or a hip Melrose trendsetter in who-said-it-has-to-be-white. And if the dress fits, why shouldn't the setting? Several at-sea options exist for the couple who want their ceremony to be smooth sailing.

The Angela Louise is a turn-of-the-century riverboat that can accommodate up to 79 passengers with packages from $299 (dockside) to $1,899 (including a two-hour cruise through Newport Harbor).

Capt. Joseph Warren and his staff can arrange all manner of accessories depending on budget, from a champagne toast and a petite cake for six guests to full packages including a DJ, photographer and all the tuxes and corsages.

Those of flintier stuff can picture a ceremony and reception aboard a classic 100-foot fantail yacht, Electra, a la TV's "Melrose Place" (that's where Daphne Zuniga shot her boyfriend, played by James Wilder in the '96 season).

Electra, with a dazzling white wooden hull and varnished mahogany trim, can be booked for day or evening weddings of up to 150.

If you go back further than history as writ by the Fox network, the ship, whose name means "shining one" in Greek, was born of romance. It was built in 1929 by A.W. Leonard, president of Puget Sound Power and Light of Seattle and given to his wife as a Valentine's Day present.

Since then, the graceful, motorized yacht has led a colorful life, sailing the world as a private vessel and, more recently, making its television debut on "Melrose Place."

Newport Beach-based Electra Cruises--whose fleet of three luxury yachts also includes the 110-foot Athena, a motor yacht, and Galatea, a 65-foot Chris Craft--provides full wedding packages for four hours of smooth sailing from pre-ceremony to post-reception. Athena is a three-level motor yacht with two full bars, a large dance floor on the covered top deck and a lounge below, plus a large dressing room with full-length mirrors for the bride.

On board all three vessels, caterers and a full complement of crew, plus wedding coordinator, photographer and disc jockey, attend the guests, and the bride and groom get the captain himself--in full uniform, of course--to perform the ceremony. They'll even throw in the cake and flowers!

Such service does come with a price. Those for the Electra and Athena vary by day; a Saturday evening ceremony for 100 would run more than $8,000 including sales and city tax and crew gratuities. Galatea runs a bit less, about $5,000 for a weekend ceremony for 50.

But what price tag can you put on adding 100 feet of "Melrose Place"-style drama to your special day?


Going Nautical for Nuptials

* Angela Louise, a turn-of-the-century riverboat. As many as 54 people. From $299 to $1,499. (714) 723-1403.

* Electra Cruises, 3405 Via Oporto, Newport Beach. (714) 723-1069.

* Pacific Avalon Yacht. Built-in dance floor. Up to 100 guests for ceremony and dinner. Starts at $5,000 for 50. (714) 673-8545.

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