Something blue: Fudpuckers' floating wedding chapel a first on Emerald Coast

Annie Blanks | 315-4450 | @DestinLogAnnie | ablanks@thedestinlog.com
Capt. Frank Howell drives his Destin Wedding Chapel, or the Love Boat, by Norriego Point on Monday. The floating wedding chapel is the first of its kind for the area, and Howell hopes it will transform the Northwest Florida wedding industry. ANNIE BLANKS/THE LOG

When you think of “something blue” for your wedding, you typically don’t think that something blue will be the Gulf of Mexico.

But the Fudpucker’s team wants to change that. Starting next year, they plan to offer wedding services on their Destin Wedding Chapel, or Love Boat, a floating wedding chapel designed by Capt. Frank Howell.

“Looking across the Panhandle from Pensacola to Panama City Beach, a lot of people come here for weddings,” said Howell, a longtime area boat captain. “Being a boat captain, I thought, why not make a wedding chapel on a boat?”

The Love Boat is a 20-by-8 foot pontoon boat that holds up to six people including the captain. It has pews, a steeple, an LED lighting system and a stereo system. To host larger wedding parties, Howell and Fudpucker’s co-owner Chester Kroeger envision people renting out Fudpucker’s pontoon boats or its 43-seat catamaran, the Cattywampus, and tying them up together to hold services on the water.

“There’s also the possibility of having the wedding right here at the restaurant,” Kroeger said. “We could literally set up a bunch of chairs and have Fudpucker's catering, a meal venue and a reception.”

Howell envisions holding Love Boat weddings out on Crab Island, the Choctawhatchee Bay or any host of water venues along the coast. He can also take the boat out of the water and put it on a scissor trailer to bring it to garden weddings, and plans to use the Love Boat for other types of services besides weddings.

“We could do christenings, baptisms, celebration of life services,” he said. “There’s a host of possibilities.”

Kroerger touted the Love Boat’s affordability as another draw for potential lovebirds. To rent the boat and hold a dockside service will be about $200, with added fees for taking the boat elsewhere or renting additional boats for guests.

Though the Love Boat has just been introduced and no weddings have been held on it yet, at least one couple is already lining up to hold a service on it.

“I think my wife and I are going to renew our vows on it,” Kroeger said. “It's really unique.”