Destination weddings with a cruise

Nautical Nuptials

Cruise-loving couples looking for a blissfully simple big day should look no further than their favorite vessel or port city for a cruise ship wedding.

There’s something incredibly romantic about saying, “I do” with the ocean as your backdrop, and — if you’re already thinking of tying the knot on a cruise — there are even more ways to get married on a ship than you may imagine. From the beaches of the Caribbean to the rainforests of Alaska to a ship docked in the heart of the Big Apple, the options of where are as gorgeous as they are varied — just like the ships you have to choose from for where to say your vows.

RELATED: My Big Fat Cruise Ship Wedding 

Cruise Ship Wedding

Wedding Flowers

Best of all, the cruise line can handle everything from bouquets and boutonnieres to centerpieces, décor, and menus to the Champagne toast, photographer, music, and even that tiered, white-frosted wedding cake of your dreams. We’ve seen a gorgeous balloon drop on a Princess Cruises’ ship, ice carvings on a Carnival Cruise Line ship, and Norwegian Cruise Line even lets you check available dates and book online. Ask nicely, and someone may even steam the dress and press the tuxedo before you walk down the aisle.

And since the ship is also the honeymoon getaway, you’ll walk back up the aisle to the most memorable vacation of your life, with balcony toasts to your future, chocolates and strawberries waiting in your room, rose petals amid swan towel animals on your bed, night after night of tables for two, morning after morning of breakfast in bed, and spa treatments designed for two. Sounds appealing, right? Read on to figure out which strategy is perfect for your big day.

Wedding Strategy #1: Docked in Your Embarkation Port

You can say your vows and have a lunch reception in port before the ship sails, so your guests can board for the day and then disembark before the ship pulls out of port. For your guests, the ship is a ceremony and reception site; for you and your new spouse, it’s your home for the week! The best choices for this are ships that embark in big cities with plenty of flights — New York City, for example, is a great choice, whereas a smaller ship sailing out of Antigua in the Caribbean may mean fewer guests are able to attend. Carnival Cruise Line, for example, can have up to 50 non-sailing guests on board to watch the ceremony and toast the newlyweds with cake and sparkling wine. And Holland America Line offers this option in Boston, New York, Tampa, San Diego, Seattle, and Vancouver, among others.

Tying the Knot Tip: Since you can’t board the night before for a rehearsal dinner, we suggest having a welcome reception in your embarkation port city to encourage all traveling guests to arrive the day before. This will protect you from flight delays or other travel issues preventing your guests from arriving on time.

Wedding Strategy #2: At Sea

Whether or not a cruise line is legally able to perform a cruise ship wedding at sea depends on the laws of where the ship is flagged. For example, 13 Princess ships are flagged in Bermuda, so all of those ships’ captains are vested to….

By Sherri Eisenberg

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