Have you ever thought about getting married on a boat, out on the open waters?
Sailing has a way of getting under your skin unlike any other sport, and at such short notice! The technical difficulties of owning or operating a boat never stopped parents or pet owners, so why not incorporate it into other high-maintenance events. Like a boat wedding, perhaps?
Choosing a boat as your wedding venue brings some charm to your special day that you could not find anywhere else, except perhaps in a cave wedding, or a forest wedding. It all depends on your aesthetic preferences, and each is lovelier than the other. Still, a day in the sun and salty air, waves caressing the wedding party, an authentic wooden dance floor…
The best thing about the venue is its preset décor. With the sea stretching out into the horizon, there’s a big chance you won’t need much additional decoration, saving yourself from a huge expense. In fact, this is not as expensive a venue as you may think – many brides before you have already contacted enough yacht clubs to make wedding packages a common thing. Most yacht charters come with wedding packages and their own wedding planners. Even without a wedding planner, crews that have already dealt with wedding parties can help you significantly with things like logistics, food, flowers… It takes a lot of stress off the bride’s shoulders, and it helps the crew if they feel comfortable with the new boat layout.
Before browsing boats, you will need to decide on a size. If your wedding party is small, anything goes, but if you want more guests, opt to a number under 150, which is as many as you could seat on a 40-meter yacht. The guests are your major point for concern here. Not everybody was born to sail the seven seas, and unless your guests are all boat-owners, expect a fair dose of seasickness. This problem can be handled by serving ginger in different forms – opt for ginger ale and ginger biscuits, or a ginger-based marinade, if you are serving fish. This is another area best managed by the crew. Consult with them to see what goes and what doesn’t. They have probably all dealt with sickly passengers, and will know what food works on the waves. If the boat comes with its own cook, forget all catering companies, and let him or her decide on all the courses. A happy party should be a priority over a picture-perfect meal, and a seasick party is no party at all.
The ceremony is considered the biggest bureaucratic nuisance when marrying aboard. There is a belief that captains can perform marriage ceremonies, and this is hardly true. There are only a few cruisers where this is an option, and these are the Princess Cruises and Cunard, both registered in Bermuda, Celebrity from Malta, and the Royal Caribbean from the Bahamas. There have been several situations where people got married by an unlicensed captain, but these marriages are considered as shady by the official courts. So unless your captain moonlights as a minister, find a marriage officiant and gather the right papers – in most cases, the boat needs to be docked for the marriage to be recognized by the state. You could make this easier by having the ceremony on a dock, and then boarding everybody, sans officiant. Now, the best ending to a boat wedding would be sailing off into a honeymoon. To do this, you need to work out the logistics of dropping the guests off somewhere when the party is over.
It is not all about having a visually enticing wedding to match your budget, however. There is always a chance for stormy waters on your organized, and paid for date, in which case not a single boat captain will let you set sail. Prevent disasters like this by booking everything no sooner than two or three months before the carefully picked out big day, and have an alternative at hand. Hopefully you won’t need it, but on the bright side, impromptu gatherings are known to be the best kind.
It takes a boater to become a boat bride, but boat weddings may appeal other couples as well, thanks to the list of possible themes can take on a tone as classy or as quirky as you wish, and not come off as pretentious or tacky. 18th century romance novels, naval officers, posh dandies, flappers, a tropical luau, pirates, iridescence, mermaids, the actual Little Mermaid. The sky is the limit. Never forget that you are not doing this for the festivities, but to celebrate you and your loved one sailing into marital waters, may they serve you well!
Featured image credit: Embrace Photography