ARRANGING a wedding can be stressful – who to invite and who not, the venue, reception, caterers, cars and more.
Then there is the cost of it all, not to mention the honeymoon. So how about combining a hassle-free wedding and luxury honeymoon by getting married at sea?
It is more popular than you might think — with one cruise line hosting 1,500 weddings in a normal year, so it has had plenty of practice.
With staff on shore and aboard to make sure everything goes to plan, you simply book the cruise, pick the items you want from the brochure, then relax and look forward to your big day.
Where to get married
CRUISE ships sail all the oceans, so there are plenty of options when it comes for where to tie the knot.
How about the Indian Ocean? Or perhaps the Pacific on a cruise to Hawaii? For guaranteed good weather, the Caribbean is another obvious choice but northern Europe’s fjord cruises are also great for those who are not sun worshippers.
Another popular choice is the transatlantic voyage between Southampton and New York on Cunard’s famous liner Queen Mary 2. You can sail both ways or go by sea one way and fly back.
If retail therapy is your thing, you can fly out, shop then sail back. Unlike airlines, QM2’s captain won’t care what your luggage weighs.
The ceremony itself could take place on deck or in a private room — the choice is yours, but factor in the the possible weather and the size of your party.
If it is just the two of you present, a couple of the ship’s senior officers will be delighted to act as witnesses.
What to expect
LINES have packages that start from under £2,000, excluding the cruise fare. For that price you can expect flowers for the bride and matching buttonhole for the groom, photography, a cake, bubbly and some extras that will vary from line to line.
All operators have dedicated wedding coordinators who will work with you to plan your perfect big day. On fly-cruises, P&O and Cunard allow extra luggage on your flight and have a pressing service for the bride’s outfit.
On Cunard, the bride is escorted to the ceremony by scarlet-uniformed bell boys. Other lines offer special meals, breakfast in bed or on your balcony, special gifts and even spa and beauty appointments to prepare for the big day.
After the ceremony you can book anything from a private lunch or dinner to the ship’s whole nightclub.
Is it all official?
SOME ships offer only wedding-style ceremonies, while others — including Princess, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard and some P&O ships — offer officially recognised marriages.
These take place on a sea day when the ship is in international waters and are conducted by the captain. Legally they take place in the country where the ship is registered and there is no need to register them when you arrive home.
Same-sex marriages can happen as long they are permitted in the country where the ship is registered.
It may take a little while for your official wedding certificate to arrive but you will be given a commemorative one on the day — a permanent reminder of your very special wedding.
Is it just weddings?
NO! Those looking for a commitment ceremony or to renew their vows to celebrate a very special anniversary are also welcome to book packages.