Tying the knot? Cruise ships offer a cool ceremony option — and, of course, the ship can also deliver you to a host of romantic destinations. But before you send those nautical-themed invitations, here’s what you need to know in order to create the ultimate cruise-ship-wedding getaway.
Marrying at Sea
If you dream of saying “I do” surrounded by open water, first check with your cruise line — some are not legally permitted to officiate while sailing. Nearly every cruise line that does offer weddings has a variety of packages that include everything from flowers to photography to three-tiered wedding cakes. Many lines also offer extras: If you want to share your wedding with family back on land, Princess Cruises gives you the option of adding a webcam broadcast, while bartenders on Celebrity ships will create a special cocktail in your honor. You'll also have the services of a wedding planner, who can help with logistics — such as how to get a marriage license in the country where you’ll be getting hitched (it will be up to you to get the license and pay any additional fees, though).
Marrying Above (or Under) the Sea
Many large cruise ships have wedding chapels on board, or special, photogenic spots for ceremonies. If you are getting married on the MSC Divina, you can say "I do" on a staircase that sparkles with thousands of Swarovski crystals. For something completely different, marry within one of Royal Caribbean’s North Star observation pods — glass gondolas on a crane attached to the ship — and exchange vows suspended 300 feet over the ocean. If you'd rather tie the knot under the sea instead, couples aboard Crystal Esprit can recite their vows while in the ship's sleek submersible vessel, where it will be just the two of you and the captain.
Marrying in Port
All cruise lines allow weddings while the ship is in port, and embarkation port weddings include early boarding privileges for you and your guests; just keep in mind that per-guest charges vary by line. Portside weddings can run the gamut from a full-blown shipboard bash — complete with live music and an open bar — to an intimate ceremony on a sun-drenched Caribbean beach, atop an Alaskan glacier, or in a European castle or villa. Non-sailing guests can join you for portside weddings, too; they just need a photo ID. Note that in-port regulations for same-sex marriages differ based on local laws.