Tell your wedding story through visuals and words.

How to Plan a Cruise Wedding

How to Plan a Cruise Wedding
Don't want a run-of-the-mill wedding but want it to be romantic as ever? Don't want to invite half the town to celebrate your big day but want those closest to you to be there? Quite a conundrum you're in ... or so you would think. The perfect solution to a sticky situation like this is a cruise wedding. We give you the details on how to plan the perfect wedding with the sea as your backdrop.
Sujata Iyer
Contrary to popular belief, not all captains can officiate a wedding on board a ship. He can officiate only if he has a license to do so.

It seems perfect, doesn't it? An intimate ceremony with those closest to your heart. The soft breeze running through your hair and the warm sun making your cheeks blush even more than you already are. An after-party that screams luxury and fun, and then off to your honeymoon, into the blue! A wedding can't get more marvelous than this! A cruise wedding can offer you all this, and much more! Plan the most important day of your life, drink to the joy of your new marriage, and sail away into the sunset (literally).
On Board or On Shore?
The first thing you need to decide is whether you want your wedding to be on shore or on board. This is because while there are cruise liners that offer wedding ceremony packages at sea, not all are licensed to do so. Hence, they have packages that involve the ceremony taking place, while the ship is docked at the port, after which the bride and groom carry on for their honeymoon on the vessel. Note that while almost all cruise liners allow non-sailing passengers to alight the vessel for the ceremony, the bride and groom must book a cruise with the liner to avail a wedding package. Whether you want your wedding party to continue onward with you on the cruise is a call you'll have to make.

There are also liners that offer packages which let you get married at a port stop on the route of the ship. This means you have to plan your wedding keeping that location in mind. Don't worry, all liners that offer wedding packages have hands-on teams that coordinate every tiny detail of your cruise wedding from the flowers to the cake, from the music to the champagne! You may have to go in blind because not all of them may allow you to have a cake or wine tasting like a conventional wedding.
The Legalities Involved
There are legal aspects (read: your marriage license) that you need to take care of in case of a cruise wedding. You will have to get your license from the state or port at which you get married. Whether this port comes under domestic or international jurisdiction, you have to ensure that you adhere to all the rules and regulations regarding marriage licensing in that place, not your home state. This requires a fair bit of planning and is a very important aspect of a cruise wedding. To avoid any of these hassles, many couples get legally married in advance and have a symbolic ceremony on the cruise ship followed by their honeymoon.
The Guest List
Every cruise liner has different rules about the number of guests that are allowed on board for a wedding. While some may allow 8, some may allow up to 50. Each liner will also have different packages to select from according to the scale of the ceremony you wish to have. You absolutely have to adhere to the restrictions regarding the number of people allowed on board, especially non-sailing guests. For a wedding on shore, the wedding is conducted and completed before the official sailing time. Remember, all non-sailing guests will be allowed on board only after a proper identification protocol is followed and will have to disembark after the ceremony.
The Backup Plan
The thing about cruise weddings is that no matter how romantic and intimate it may seem, there are a lot of things that could go wrong with it. For instance, the weather may play foul and you may have to change your on-board venue (if it is an on shore wedding), or you may have to rush through the whole thing. If the weather forecast is unfavorable, the whole trip can get canceled. There goes the wedding and the honeymoon! If you're having the wedding at a port stop and the weather runs amok, the ship may just not dock at the port and all your wedding preparations at the port will have to be canceled. Hence, always, always, always have a backup plan.
Cruise Liners Worth Considering
Given here are links to websites of some of the most popular liners (in no particular order) that hold on-board weddings. As mentioned before, they all have their own perks and packages. Browse through them and see what suits your fancy. The best way to go about planning a cruise wedding is to call the cruise liner directly with any doubts or queries you may have after checking out their packages online. Make sure you visit the vessel on which your ceremony will be held beforehand. And of course, make sure you inform your guests well in advance about the location of the wedding so that they can plan their day accordingly as well.