If exchanging vows on a cruise appeals to you, then this article is for you. It is such a unique experience that will leave lasting memories forever. It can be overwhelming planning a wedding, but hosting a wedding in another state or country can be even more challenging without having boots on the ground. As an expert in the field of destination and cruise weddings, I was recently interviewed by Vacation Agent Magazine for my feedback for cruise weddings (you can access that article here). I am currently working with a couple planning a cruise wedding with Royal Caribbean.
Here are things couples need to know before deciding on a cruise wedding…
What’s nice about a cruise wedding is that you’re not limited to having to exchange vows on the ship. You can actually have the ceremony on an island, which makes it even more unique! 3 common locations are…
1. At the port before boarding the ship. This way family and friends can still attend the ceremony without having to go on the actual cruise.
2. On board the ship. The captain will most likely officiate the ceremony.
3. At a port of call on the beach or other venue on an island. The only problem with this is that there’s a slight chance the ship might not dock due to weather or other issues the cruise or destination may be experiencing.
The Wedding Planner
There are a couple options when it comes to the actual wedding planner…
1. The cruise line wedding planner. They will have a few packages to choose from and include a variety of things, such as the officiant, champagne, cake for 2, photographer. Most packages are limited and have a lot of enhancements that cost extra.
2. A local island wedding planner. They’re usually less expensive than the cruise packages, but there is a slight risk. If the ship cannot dock at the island you’re supposed to get married at you’ll have to have a plan B.
You must be an adaptable couple and okay with last minute changes. Anything can change at the drop of a hat. For example, you are getting married at Seven Mile beach in Grand Cayman, but the ship can’t dock because of the weather. You must be okay with the possibility of this happening and having a plan B in place.
Feedback from Guests
Your family may not be on board (no pun intended) at first, as families are with all Destination Weddings since they’re non-traditional. Times have changed and weddings are not very traditional anymore. Some people have a fear of cruising, but you’d be surprised by how many guests will come. They’ll get over it and go because everyone else will be there!
A symbolic ceremony can be performed at any location listed above, but if you are insistent on getting legally married on an island you have to consider their marriage requirements. Some islands require you to be on the island or on island waters for 24 to 48 hours before you can apply for the license. Most of the time, cruise ships only dock for a short time period from 8 to 12 or 24 hours. You may have no choice but to do a symbolic ceremony. That’s where a travel specialist comes into play, I will make sure you are fully aware of the requirements prior to making any arrangements.
Due to customs fresh flowers are not allowed on board the ship. They can be purchased directly from the cruise line florist, but there is a limited selection.
A steamer is not allowed board any ship. Check the dry cleaning/pressing services that are available on the ship so your dress will be perfect for your wedding day. Services by ship vary.
Guests must follow the custom rules when it comes to gifts. I recommend guests sending the couple gifts directly to their home before or after the cruise, not during! This way no one has to claim anything extra! Here is the link to the customs website for the full guidelines: www.cbp.gov/travel
Hair & Make-up
If you plan on bringing your own hair and make up artist great, but if you plan on using the salon on the ship find out if they take reservations in advance. Some ships won’t take any reservations until you are on board the ship.
Photographers are not allowed to bring their photography equipment on board the ship. You can use your own photographer on the island, but they’ll have to meet you on the island. Royal Caribbean will allow you to bring your own photographer, but you will have to pay a fee, whereas Carnival does not.
You can have the reception on the ship in a private venue or at a venue on an island. This is where a wedding planner comes in to play to help you decide your best options for the amount of guests you have. Keep in mind you will have to pay by the plate and purchase drink packages. If your guests have drink packages with the cruise, that doesn’t matter. The cruise line will not have a full service bar at the venue unless you pay for the drink packages, which means your guests would have to find the closest bar to get a drink.
I hope this post didn’t scare you. It’s for your information and to make you aware of all the little things you need to be aware of when you plan your cruise wedding. It’s a whole different ball game, than planning a wedding at a resort.
If you would like more information on cruise weddings complete my cruise form and I’ll be in touch!