By Judy Cress
Imagine the most important day of your life, free of stress and full of joy! More couples are discovering shipboard weddings.
Contrary to popular belief, the couples are not married at sea by the captain but in port where the bridal couples, loved ones and friends may attend.
A shipboard wedding is a beautiful, reasonable and hassle-free experience. The bride and groom can book their wedding and honeymoon at the same time. The ships offer many wedding packages to fit individual needs and budgets.
The basic package includes the bride's bouquet, groom's boutonnière, wedding cake, champagne, certificate of marriage, a wedding coordinator and an officiate. The packages enable the couple to determine how much they want to budget for their wedding, reception and honeymoon cruise.
Enhancements are offered on all wedding packages and receptions, depending on a couple's preference.
The wedding takes place in a private area on board prior to sailing. The wedding area is beautifully decorated with large bouquets of white flowers. The bridal processional and recessional music are provided.
The beauty of the shipboard wedding is everyone enjoys it! If you choose to be wed at the ship's embarkation terminal, you are able to invite non-sailing guests, as well as sailing guests. The non-sailing guests enjoy the cruise ship environment and often return to cruise on the ship.
Remember, all wedding arrangements have been pre-planned by the bridal couple assisted by their travel agent and cruise consultant. At that time, the couple can decide on their wedding package, any wedding enhancements, the number of guests, photo package and the type of wedding reception they prefer.
Your travel agent and cruise consultant will assist you in deciding on a reception.
The wedding reception can be as simple as the cake cutting and bride and groom toast or as elaborate as a two-hour sit-down dinner. All buffets, hot and cold hors d`oeuvres and sit-down dinners come with open bar service. The reception is scheduled for one hour but can be extended an additional hour provided that there is enough time before the ship sails. The package includes one hour with the wedding photographer, and the photographers go to great lenghts to make sure all your memories are captured and available to you before the honeymoon is over.
A disc jockey provided at an additional cost really enhances the reception.
On the wedding/sailing day, the bride, groom and their guests should arrive at the terminal by 10:30 a.m., where their wedding coordinator will be awaiting.
The coordinator goes over the music, names and requests with the bride and then assists the bride, groom, and sailing wedding guests with early priority check-in. Your coordinator will make sure that all non-sailing guests have guest badges and insure that you have your clothes and any extra wedding materials.
Once the ship is cleared by Customs, the wedding party is given priority boarding onto the ship, where the wedding coordinator will escort the bride to the cabin. The number of wedding coordinators is determined by the size of the wedding; however, even if the wedding party consists of a bride and groom, a wedding coordinator is there to assist them.
As the guests enjoy touring the ship, the bridal party is able to dress and prepare for the ceremony. The guests and bridal party are requested to be at the wedding site 30 minutes prior to the wedding for rehearsal.
The wedding coordinator then meets the bride at her cabin and escorts her to the ceremony for her grand entrance.
The lovely ceremony is followed by the reception. Food and beverages are served, the bride and groom are now husband and wife and the fun begins!
The non-sailing guests disembark, and the wedding couple sails away on their romantic honeymoon cruise.
A shipboard wedding is a great way to simplify your wedding plans and provide you with a beautiful and romantic experience without the stress and hassles a shore- side wedding can create.
Your guests will thank you for inviting them to this lovely and lively wedding
Judy Cress is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. For more information, call (321) 253-3674.