How to Plan a Cruise Wedding

© Brad Thompson -

A cruise wedding can be surprisingly affordable. Choosing to be married on a cruise ship is one way to combine many wedding and honeymoon expenses into one lump sum. Another advantage of a cruise wedding is that much of the planning and stress can be removed from the bride, groom and their families. This is because when you purchase a wedding package, you are also purchasing the services of an event planner who will be responsible for the majority of the details of the wedding. Learn how to plan a cruise wedding to see if this is an option for you.

Think about what you want in a cruise wedding. Decide whether you want a destination wedding that occurs during the cruise, or a ceremony that occurs at port before the cruise begins. Also determine where you want to travel on your cruise. There are many destinations, including the the Mediterranean, Alaska, Europe, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean. Allow at least three months for planning and executing all of the details necessary for the event.

Contact the cruise lines that serve the destination and find out what kind of packages they offer. Typically, cruise lines will offer several different packages of varying prices. The least expensive package would most likely be to have a ceremony at the cruise harbor before the cruise. The most expensive package would likely be getting married during the cruise. A benefit of planning a cruise wedding is that the packages are usually all-inclusive. This means that they include an event planner, flowers, decorations, cake, food, beverages, music and a photographer. Many packages can also include formal wear rental. Find out if the cruise line has a ceremony officiant available or if you have to supply an officiant.

Choose a date and book the event with the cruise line of your choice. Choose the package that has the services and options that you want and can afford. Pay any deposits necessary and sign any contracts that are required by the cruise line.

Tell friends and family what you are planning as soon as possible so that they will be more likely to attend the wedding. If the ceremony will be at a cruise port or during the cruise, and passports will be necessary, make sure that you and all of your guests have their official passports and paperwork in order.

Find out what is necessary for a wedding license. Most cruise lines require that the wedding couple be responsible for obtaining a wedding license, but for an extra fee its services may include obtaining your wedding license. Apply for the wedding license within the necessary time frame so that you will have it in a timely fashion. The cruise line will be able to guide you through this process.

Consider setting up a cruise registry to help defray wedding expenses. If finances are tight, this may be an option to help you pay for your wedding cruise. With a cruise registry, your guests can choose to give you money in an account that will pay for cruise wedding expenses as their wedding gift to you.

Find out how the invitations will be handled by the event planner. Make sure the planner has a complete guest list in a timely fashion. If you are responsible for invitations, choose and order the invitations and send them out six to eight weeks before the ceremony.

Decide how formal the wedding will be. If it will be a formal affair, with tuxedos and a wedding gown, arrange for any rentals (if necessary) and choose and purchase the gown and accessories.

Take care of any details that are associated with the wedding package you selected. Make any decisions concerning flowers, food, photography and music that must be made. Make sure that the event planner is aware of any special concerns or desires that you have.

Communicate clearly and thoroughly with the event planner regularly to make sure that there are no surprises. Make sure that the event planner knows the guest list numbers as this develops.

Make any final payments when they are due and confirm, in writing, with the event planner two weeks before the ceremony that all of the details are taken care of.