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How to Plan a Cruise Ship Wedding


Cruise ship weddings are becoming increasingly popular for many reasons. The features and facilities onboard a cruise ship are tailor made for the big day, including reception/dining areas, catering, and of course the honeymoon. Thousands of people get married at sea every year, and by taking a little time to plan your event, your wedding will be a very special and unique day to remember.

Many major cruise lines offer wedding packages, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity and Norwegian. Some vessels even house dedicated wedding chapels. The type of wedding you opt for will influence price and the overall experience. Options include:

  • An intimate wedding for just the two of you
  • A cruise send-off wedding held at the departure port
  • Tying the knot onboard with friends and family as part of the cruise
  • Getting married at a chosen port according to the ship’s itinerary

If your wedding is a simple two person event at sea, it’s as easy as booking a cruise, adding on the price of your chosen wedding package, enjoying the event and sailing away on your honeymoon. A port of departure wedding can be held onboard the ship, allowing some or all of the wedding guests the opportunity to join the cruise. If you plan to get married at sea, make sure your cruise ship hosts weddings before you book.

Some cruise ships have a registered marriage celebrant onboard, others involve the ship’s captain presiding over the ceremony, and there are also options for a mock onboard wedding and the opportunity to renew your vows. Getting married at a port of call may involve including the services of a wedding planner to ensure legal requirements are in place, and the destination is suitable.

Carnival Victory cruise ship wedding

Carnival Victory cruise ship wedding photo by Helge F.

 

Choosing the date

If your wedding involves a group booking, it may be worth considering sailing during the shoulder season just outside of peak times. The weather can be just as good as high season, plus your cruise will be less expensive. You will also have a better chance of securing the cabin configuration you desire for yourself and your group.

Choosing the destination

This step will coincide with choosing the wedding date as cruise ships vary their itinerary according to the season. Your wedding budget will also influence choice, so it’s a good idea to factor in affordability before getting too carried away with dreams of far away exotic ports. Cruises that range from 5 days to one week are very popular for wedding groups.

Save money by booking as a group

Your chosen travel agent will investigate potential savings on your behalf. This includes contacting several cruise lines and negotiating the best possible deal for your entire wedding party. Additional savings and special deals may also be offered.

  • Free stateroom for the bride and groom
  • An onboard reception room provided exclusively for your wedding party
  • Dinner seating arrangements that allow your entire group to sit together
  • Onboard credits for a little extra spending
  • Free cocktails
  • Welcome gifts
  • Group check-in

Make sure to advise your travel agent about the above possibilities to ensure they leave no stone unturned in getting you the best deal possible.

Carnival Inspiration cruise ship wedding

Carnival Inspiration cruise ship wedding photo by Brian Hawkins

Compare cruise companies/ships

The larger and more established cruise ships are usually more familiar with wedding groups. However, there are still a number of consideration requiring investigation. If you are planning a port of departure wedding you will need to inform the cruise line as some companies limit the amount of non-sailing guests onboard. For a destination wedding, you should enquire about the range of free and paid services on offer from your chosen cruise line.

Today’s cruise ships and itineraries are designed for age-appropriate sailing. Your ship should be chosen according to features that interest and entertain your special wedding group. Some cruise ships have a bridal suite, and you might want to check availability before proceeding any further with your booking.

Personalise your cruise wedding

There will be some features of your wedding that you prefer to have control over. These include:

  • Invitations: possibly including the cruise itinerary
  • Photographer: bring your own or include one in the wedding package
  • Marriage license: apply for your license well ahead of time
  • The wedding dress: make sure everyone is outfitted and ready for the big day

Start planning as soon as the decision is made to have a cruise ship wedding. By booking early you will get the best deal possible, the facilities you require, the destination of your choice, and the peace of mind in knowing you are guaranteed to have a great time.

Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are about cruise ship weddings!

Robert Grant

Loves cruise tips and cruise ships. Shares his personal opinion about cruise deals and cruise tips that might help other travellers. Do let me know if you'd like to read more about certain cruise related topics.

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