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Since the days of "The Love Boat," a cruise has been considered a wonderful choice for a relaxing honeymoon getaway. But nowadays, wedding cruises have captured the imagination of many brides and grooms, as couples seek to simplify matters by combining their wedding and honeymoon into one memorable seagoing vacation.
Each year, more and more couples choose to say their vows in spectacular locations across the globe. However, planning and executing a successful cruise wedding can be a challenge, especially if you're not aware of the local regulations and marriage licensing requirements of your chosen wedding site. But don't worry, our cruise counselors are here to help.
First, you'll need to decide where your ceremony will take place. Only seven cruise lines perform weddings at sea: Princess, Norwegian, Celebrity, Cunard, Pullmantur, Royal Caribbean and Azamara. However, there are two other ways that couples can be legally married on a cruise vacation. With the help of a cruise line's wedding coordinator, you can plan the wedding of your dreams and be married while in port -- either on the ship itself or at an amazing site onshore. Or, to avoid complicated licensing requirements, you can choose to marry at home prior to your cruise and plan a symbolic wedding ceremony aboard the ship -- this is the preferred choice of an overwhelming number of couples.
To help you plan your dream wedding, we've sorted through all the information and outlined your choices. Keep in mind that, regardless of your plans, all cruise lines require you to book a cruise before you reserve a wedding package. Cruise lines allow only a limited number of weddings per sailing, so couples should book early. A Vacations To Go cruise counselor can secure your cabin while we put you in touch with a wedding coordinator who can confirm availability for your ceremony, reconfirm cruise line policies and answer any questions you may have.
Weddings at Sea
To learn more about the wedding-at-sea packages offered by these cruise lines, click the cruise line name below:
Symbolic Weddings at Sea or in Port
Weddings in Port -- On the Ship or Ashore
You can keep it small, with just the two of you, a wedding officiant and witnesses supplied by the cruise line. Or, invite friends and family to sail along with you, or meet up with them at the site of the wedding for the grand occasion.
A great deal of planning goes into coordinating a wedding in port, which is why many couples opt to have the ceremony onboard the ship before the cruise embarks. Onboard weddings tend to be small, intimate affairs. Depending on which wedding package you purchase and the policies of the cruise line, there may be restrictions on how many guests can attend, especially if they are not planning to sail with you.
Typically, your wedding will be held inside, either in the chapel, the ship's library, a reception room or in one of the onboard entertainment areas. For couples who plan to wed on the day of embarkation, we strongly recommend arriving a day before departure. Your Vacations To Go cruise counselor can arrange a pre-cruise hotel stay for you.
Regardless of your ceremony location, here are some important issues to consider:
Licenses: You and your future spouse are responsible for obtaining a marriage license, for a fee, from your wedding destination. You also will need to be familiar with the regulations for marrying in that destination. Some places require that you apply for a license in person, while others allow you to submit an application over the phone or through the mail. Licenses can cost anywhere from $25 in Alaska to $150 in Florida. Often, your cruise line wedding coordinator can assist you in obtaining your marriage license (sometimes for a fee), or can provide you with the information needed to apply for one.
Who can attend? Security has been tightened on all ships, and there are new restrictions imposed on non-sailing guests. The wedding package you purchase through the cruise line will determine the number of guests you can invite to your ceremony and reception. Guests who are paying passengers on the cruise will be allowed to participate in your wedding. Non-sailing guests are generally permitted to come aboard for weddings and receptions, but you will most likely have to compile an accurate list of your guests, including their legal names, birthdays and/or state-issued identification numbers, and give this to the cruise line. Your guests will be asked to show proper identification upon boarding. The strictness of these regulations varies by cruise line and port. In some ports, particularly foreign ports, you may not be allowed to bring non-sailing guests onboard at all. Sailing and non-sailing guests count toward the maximum allowed guests listed for the wedding package you purchase.
Check out our charts (below) to see each cruise line's policy regarding weddings and to verify marriage license application requirements and fees.
In all cases you should contact the relevant government officials or a cruise line wedding coordinator for marriage license requirements and fees. The following chart should be used only as a resource and not as a definitive list. It is subject to change without notice.