20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

August 01, 2020 6 min read

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

(Originally written August 2015 article has been updated)

Cruise ship weddings can be fun, simple, and affordable. Check out the things you should know before planning a cruise ship wedding! Did you know that the average wedding in the United States cost over $20,000? I personally had my wedding on a cruise ship and I loved it! A cruise wedding can be as cheap as $1500-$7000 depending on what you want and how many people will be attending. You can also add things and still have an amazing wedding on a budget. A wedding on a cruise ship is a great way to save money, time, and is a very unique way to tie the knot! I have created this cruise ship wedding guide for anyone looking for perspective and tips on tying the knot on board a cruise ship. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

1.) Reserve in advance 

With any wedding whether land or sea, reserve in advance because you may not be the only couple considering a certain wedding date. Also, you want to book your cruise vacation in advance to avoid it being sold out. 

 
 20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

2.)Your Wedding can be at a port or destination venue 

I had my wedding in Miami before the cruise set sail. You can choose to have your wedding on the ship in your home port before it sets sail or at another port like the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii etc. Keep in mind that you can not have your wedding while the cruise is actually sailing on the ocean because a legal marriage has to be within a country. Also, know that you can renew your vows on a cruise if you are already married! 

3.)Pick the right cruise for you 

For most ships they will require you to book your cruise vacation first before starting any wedding planning so keep this in mind. Also, every ship is different with different cruise lengths and things to offer so you will want to pick the cruise ship that matches your personality. I personally chose to have a wedding on Carnival cruise because it offered affordable wedding packages compared to other ships and I chose a 7 day cruise because it was not too long or too short. A 4 day cruise is also a great option. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

4.) Get the balcony suite 

You will be saving some major bucks on your wedding, so you will have some extra cash to get an ocean view suite with a balcony. I would highly recommend getting a balcony suite because it is more spacious and waking up to different views every morning will be very romantic. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

5) Bring marriage license 

You will need to get your marriage license prior to the wedding. After the wedding ceremony the newly married couple, their witnesses, and clergy will sign the marriage license. It will be up to the couple to file it with the courts after the wedding so that it will be legal. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

6) Non-cruising family members can attend wedding 

  Even if your family members will not be passengers on the ship, they can still be in attendance to your wedding when the ship is in port. When I had my wedding with Carnival cruise line I was able to get onto the ship with all of my family members and friends before the ship was to set sail from Miami, FL and have my wedding. Also, keep in mind there will be no other people on the boat besides you, your wedding guest, and the cruise staff at the time of your wedding because you will be given priority boarding and get on the ship earlier than others for your wedding. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

7.) Honeymoon will still be amazing even with cruising family members 

Speaking of family members, don't worry about your honeymoon being less romantic with family or friends cruising with you. The ships are so big and full of different activities that you are not likely to run into them. However, if you do want to hang out with them it can be very fun. 

8.) Let your guest know your plans ASAP 

When planning a cruise wedding you will want to let your guest know your plans as soon as possible, so that they can have time to prepare or take off from work. You can do this BEFORE sending out invitations by simply emailing, calling or texting your guest to give them a heads up of your plans. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

9.) Make a wedding website & registry 

When it comes to a cruise wedding there are a lot of little details that your guest will need to know and understand. On your wedding website or facebook page be sure to include hotel information, directions to the cruise port and where to meet for the wedding. You will also want to let them know that if they are a non-sailing wedding guest they will need to bring I.D and if they are a sailing guest to bring their passport. Check out how I set up my wedding website here. 

10.)Try to get group rates 

Try to book accommodations as a group so that your wedding guests and you can get better rates and save money on your cruise booking. 

11.) Wedding planners will assist you 

The great thing about having a wedding on a ship is that it will be a lot less stressful. The cruise wedding coordinators take care of everything, you just let them know what you want. Wedding packages offered on the ship also help to take a lot of the work out of the wedding planning. Packages will include cake, food, flowers, and entertainment.. 

Tip: A great company to get some beautiful themed wedding invitations is the stylishscribe.com and you can get real looking artifice flowers looking online. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

12.) When or when not to have your wedding cruise... 

Avoid summer and spring breaks: if you choose to have your wedding during these times you may be sharing your cruise vacation with college spring breakers and families on vacation with their kids However, do book your cruise during these time if it fits into your wedding plans and guest schedules. 
 
Avoid holidays: keep in mind when planning your wedding and cruise vacation that it may be more money during holidays. 
 
Consider the season & weather: of course you will want to try your best to avoid bad weather months. For example I avoided having my wedding during hurricane season in Florida 

13.)Come at least a day prior to wedding cruise 

If you do not happen to live conveniently near the cruise port and are driving or flying in for the wedding, do yourself the favor and stay in a hotel prior to your big day. This will save you from running around like a crazy person and from getting stressed out. It also gives you more time to spend with family and friends prior to your wedding as wedding cruises typically are shorter. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

 14.)Get reliable transportation 

 Be sure to get reliable transportation to the cruise ship for your big day and preferably get a hotel near the cruise port. You may want to consider getting a shuttle from your hotel for you and your wedding party. 

15.) Arriving to cruise port... 

 you will be met outside by a cruise coordinator in a designated area. They will escort you and your wedding party into the ship in order to get ready.For your wedding you and all your guest will have priority boarding and check in. I boarded the ship at 10:00 a.m with all of my wedding guest. 

16.) Getting ready for your wedding 

 Makeup: On the boat they can do your wedding makeup for you or you can be sure that your makeup artist comes with you into your cabin along with your wedding party. 
 
Hair: I would recommend having most of your hair done prior to getting on the boat and leave any minor finishing touches for the boat in order to save time in getting ready for your big day. 
 
Clothes: Dress for the occasion, yes it is a cruise wedding and can be laid back but I would recommend to still dress to impress. 
  
Cabins: Your cabin will be ready early for you and your wedding party to get ready in. 
I would recommend that you request a second cabin be opened so that the groom and the bridal party can get ready in separate locations. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

17.)Wedding ceremony 

keep in mind that the ceremony room you get will be based off of the number of guest that you have attending your wedding. During your big day your guest will be directed to the ceremony room by your wedding coordinator. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

18.)Wedding Reception 

I would recommend that during the reception you just try and mingle with your wedding guest, with the exception of some candid shots and the standard wedding cake cutting photo. The time you have is short and it is better to pick up the professional picture taking after the reception where you will be able to go around the boat and outside to take plenty of photos by the photographer. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

19.) Photos and videography 

You can not bring your own photographer. Also, be aware that with any wedding that the professional photos and videos may be expensive. I personally would recommend getting the professional photos and video of your wedding and try to get the photo package that is right for your budget. 
 See example wedding video: here 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding

20.) Honeymoon 

Time to sit back, relax and enjoy your honeymoon! My honeymoon was spent in Belize, Mexico, Honduras and Grand Cayman on the ship Carnival Glory. We had a balcony suite and really enjoyed every part of our honeymoon cruise from ordering room service in our cabin to snorkeling in the crystal blue waters of Mexico and riding around on a scooter. 

20 Things to know when planning a cruise ship wedding