Wedding Cruises: Planning Tips

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Getting married on wedding cruises can ease the minds of the bride and groom because many cruise lines offer pre-planned packages that include everything from the groom's boutonniere to a post-ceremony champagne-and-cake reception. But whether it's your first wedding or a vow renewal, some research is necessary to ensure the nuptials unfold without a hitch.

Wedding Cruises: Choosing a Cruise Line
Research the wedding cruises offered by the various cruise lines as ceremony details can vary widely. Some lines, such as Carnival, offer ceremonies either on-board or at ports of call. Others only have the option of holding the ceremony on land.

Wedding Cruises: The Officiant
Contrary to the popular romantic myth, cruise ship captains are not necessarily able to legally join a couple together in wedlock, though many times the captain or a ship's officer can officiate at the ceremony. The cruise line will have a local official, a notary public or other such person present to satisfy the legal requirements. In the case of Disney Cruise Line, a civil ceremony must be performed at port before the ship embarks.

Wedding Cruises: Guest Lists
The number of guests you can have at the wedding ceremony also varies between the cruise lines and depends on available facilities. Be sure to check on this before booking to avoid disappointment when you're sending out the invitations. Also, some cruise lines are "adults only," and will not allows guests younger than 18 to attend.

Wedding Cruises: The Paperwork
Of course, you must have a wedding license, and it must be valid in the municipality from where you embark. This may require arriving a day or two early to arrange. If the ceremony is taking place in a foreign port, additional paperwork may be needed; check with the cruise line to be sure you have all the bases covered.

Wedding Cruises: Plan Ahead
Most cruise lines require you to schedule your wedding cruise at least a year in advance, and confirm the details closer to the departure date. This gives you plenty of time to work with the cruise line's wedding planner or your travel agent to make sure all the details are in place.

Wedding Cruises: Prepare for the Unexpected
Hurricanes happen. So do missed plane connections, engine problems and other mishaps that may cause cruise weddings to not go as expected. Reputable cruise lines will do their best to make it up to you, but to ensure peace of mind, you may want to purchase cruise insurance in case things do go awry.

Whether you work with a wedding planner employed by a cruise line or a travel agent specializing in wedding cruises, a ceremony aboard a cruise ship or at an exotic port of call will provide romantic memories for a lifetime. And as soon as you say your "I Do's" (and sign the paperwork), your wedding cruise will instantly transform into your honeymoon.

Photo by muha on Flickr

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