Pat and Chris, who both had a fondness for cruises, thought there was no better place to have a wedding than on a boat. They both loved the idea of a destination wedding and chose a Royal Caribbean cruise ship to say their “I do’s.”
“We wanted an adventure that was truly “us.” I didn’t want a cookie cutter wedding … I wanted to have time to visit and enjoy every guest,” says Pat, who adds that family and friends reacted with excitement to the news of the cruise ship wedding.
Along with 32 guests, the 40-something couple, who reside in Dallas, Texas, hopped aboard The Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas in Fort Lauderdale Florida for a 5-day wedding journey, which took them to Key West and Cozumel.
The ceremony was held in the ship’s lounge while the ship was docked. Windows overlooking the port on both sides gave a wonderful view of the ocean, says Pat. Chris’s 21-year old son acted as his dad’s best man, while his 14-year old daughter served as Pat’s maid of honor.
After the service, pictures were taken, and a four-course luncheon reception – complete with linens and crystal, was held in one of the ship’s dining rooms.
“It was a wonderful, delightful time,” says Pat.
Because the ship offered a package deal, the couple says planning was virtually stress-free. In fact, Pat estimates it took only 80 hours of planning – and that includes addressing the invitations.
Pat says that for her the best thing about having a wedding on a boat, aside from the lack of stress, was that she and Chris didn’t have to run from place to place on their wedding day. Instead, they could spend time with their friends and family.
Her advice to other couples considering a wedding on a cruise ship?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” she says. “And invite everyone you want to be there. People will really come, as long as you give them plenty of notice.”
Cruise ship weddings are becoming increasingly popular – not just for second weddings. According to travel industry experts, more and more couples marrying for the first time are having cruise ship weddings.
Why are they so popular? One of the reasons is that they are generally less expensive than more traditional weddings. A couple can have a cruise ship wedding for less than $1,000, however the average cost is around $7,000 (and that’s with 100 guests). Also, they are relatively easy to plan, especially if you hire a wedding coordinator specializing in cruise ship weddings. Cruise lines are making the most of this growing trend by actively promoting cruise weddings. Most have all-inclusive packages to make your life easy that include everything from an onboard photographer to wedding flowers. Couples who want more customized packages can forgo the packages and create their own event.
Usually the ceremony at a cruise ship wedding takes place in port (the only cruise ship line that allows captains to marry couples at sea is Princess Cruises). Because each port will have different legal requirements for weddings, it’s important to hire someone who can help you meet all of the requirements. Guests can hop on board for the ceremony and reception, and then say their goodbyes when the ship departs. However, many are opting to stay aboard.
One word of caution: if you’re a control freak you might want to steer clear of this option. Generally a wedding planner will be handling most of the details for you, which might not be for everyone.